Hard Times

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Themes and Colors
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Hard Times, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Dickens depicts a terrifying system of education where facts, facts, and nothing but facts are pounded into the schoolchildren all day, and where memorization of information is valued over art, imagination, or anything creative. This results in some very warped human beings. Mr. Thomas Gradgrind believes completely in this system, and as a superintendent of schools and a father, he makes sure that all the children at the schools he is responsible for and especially…

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Hand in hand with the glorification of data and numbers and facts in the schoolhouse is the treatment of the workers in the factories of Coketown as nothing more than machines, which produce so much per day and are not thought of as having feelings or families or dreams. Dickens depicts this situation as a result of the industrialization of England; now that towns like Coketown are focused on producing more and more, more dirty…

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There are many unhappy marriages in Hard Times and none of them are resolved happily by the end. Mr. Gradgrind's marriage to his feeble, complaining wife is not exactly a source of misery for either of them, but neither are they or their children happy. The Gradgrind family is not a loving or affectionate one. The main unhappy marriage showcased by the novel is between Louisa Gradgrind and Mr. Bounderby. Louisa marries him…

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The best, most good characters of Hard Times are women. Stephen Blackpool is a good man, but his love, Rachael, is an "Angel". Sissy Jupe can overcome even the worst intentions of Jem Harthouse with her firm and powerfully pure gaze. Louisa, as disadvantaged as she is by her terrible upbringing, manages to get out of her crisis at the last minute by fleeing home to her father for shelter, in contrast to…

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