Hard Times

Hard Times

Thomas Gradgrind Character Analysis

Mr. Gradgrind is a school superintendent who promotes an education based on facts alone (no talk of imagination or emotions, please) and later becomes a Member of Parliament. His two eldest children, Louisa and Tom, suffer greatly from being brought up under this philosophy, and Gradgrind eventually comes to learn the error of his ways and dedicate his life to fostering faith, hope, and charity.

Thomas Gradgrind Quotes in Hard Times

The Hard Times quotes below are all either spoken by Thomas Gradgrind or refer to Thomas Gradgrind. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Hard Times published in 2001.
Book 1, Chapter 1 Quotes

"Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!"

Related Characters: Thomas Gradgrind (speaker)
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 1, Chapter 2 Quotes

‘Bitzer,' said Thomas Gradgrind. ‘Your definition of a horse.'

‘Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.' Thus (and much more) Bitzer.

Related Characters: Thomas Gradgrind (speaker), Bitzer (speaker)
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 1, Chapter 15 Quotes

‘Father,' said Louisa, ‘do you think I love Mr Bounderby?'

Mr. Gradgrind was extremely discomfited by this unexpected question. ‘Well, my child,' he returned, ‘I — really — cannot take upon myself to say.'

Related Characters: Thomas Gradgrind (speaker), Louisa Gradgrind (speaker), Josiah Bounderby
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 2, Chapter 12 Quotes

‘This night, my husband being away, he has been with me, declaring himself my lover. This minute he expects me, for I could release myself of his presence by no other means. I do not know that I am sorry, I do not know that I am ashamed, I do not know that I am degraded in my own esteem. All that I know is, your philosophy and your teaching will not save me. Now, father, you have brought me to this. Save me by some other means!'

Related Characters: Louisa Gradgrind (speaker), Thomas Gradgrind, Louisa Gradgrind, James Harthouse
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:

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Thomas Gradgrind Character Timeline in Hard Times

The timeline below shows where the character Thomas Gradgrind appears in Hard Times. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 2
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
That scary-looking man is Mr. Thomas Gradgrind. He proceeds to grill the children on what practical knowledge they possess (not much, with... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 3
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Mr. Gradgrind walks back to his home, called Stone Lodge, he thinks with satisfaction about the education... (full context)
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
...tries to clear her brother of any blame by saying she brought him along. Mr. Gradgrind just scolds them as he takes them home, and adds, "What would Mr. Bounderby say?" (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 4
Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
...inflated, coarsely made man. He is standing in Stone Lodge, boasting to the feeble Mrs. Gradgrind about his rags-to-riches background—he spent his youth living in a ditch, deserted by his mother,... (full context)
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Mr. Gradgrind returns with Louisa and Thomas, having dragged them from the circus, and indignantly exposes the... (full context)
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
Mr. Gradgrind and Mr. Bounderby set off for Coketown to confront the Jupes. As they leave, Mr.... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 5
Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
Mr. Gradgrind and Mr. Bounderby stroll into industrial Coketown, once a red brick town but now discolored,... (full context)
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
On their way to the Jupes' home, Gradgrind and Bounderby collide with Sissy Jupe and Bitzer; Gradgrind finds, to his chagrin, that his... (full context)
Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
...jeers at her and her father's way of earning their living. In response to Mr. Gradgrind's somewhat kinder questions, she docilely leads them to where she and her father are staying. (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 6
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Sissy leads Mr. Gradgrind and Mr. Bounderby into the pub, called the Pegasus's Arms, where she, her father, and... (full context)
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
...he loved dearly, because of his shame in his failure to earn their living. As Gradgrind and Bounderby discuss what they ought to do with this now father-less child (Gradgrind wants... (full context)
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Sissy returns in tears upon discovering her father's desertion, and accepts Mr. Gradgrind's offer to take her into his home and educate her. The circus players, who all... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 7
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
Mr. Gradgrind, Louisa, and Sissy enter the room. Upon questioning, Sissy lets slip that she and her... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 9
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
After a lot of time spent with Mr. Gradgrind's education of facts, Sissy hasn't made much "progress." One night she falls into conversation with... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 14
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
...grown into young women, and Tom is now a young man, apprenticed to Bounderby. Mr. Gradgrind's education of facts has not affected Sissy, who has acquired none of the knowledge he... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 15
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
Mr. Gradgrind summons Louisa to his room, and informs her that Mr. Bounderby has asked for her... (full context)
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
...will marry Mr. Bounderby, which she knows is her father's wish. Taking her downstairs, Mr. Gradgrind announces the news of the betrothal to his wife and Sissy. Louisa sees the look... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 1
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
...and the Bank's porter. In their conversation, they discuss what a lazy young man Tom Gradgrind is. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 2
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
...who recommended that he go work for Bounderby, whom his brother refers to, along with Gradgrind, as the "Hard Fact fellows". Mr. Harthouse and Mr. Bounderby meet, and after Bounderby pompously... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 6
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
...who she lost, when suddenly there is a knock at the door. Louisa and Tom Gradgrind enter. From the look on his face, it is clear that Tom is not here... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 9
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
As Mrs. Gradgrind lies dying, she feebly attempts to tell Louisa that she has realized that she and... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 1
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
Mr. Gradgrind leaves her to rest, and Sissy comes in. Louisa immediately is filled with anger and... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 3
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
...her into a carriage in which they rush to Stone Lodge. There, he confronts Mr. Gradgrind, yelling about Louisa's affair with Harthouse. When Gradgrind reveals that Louisa came to him rather... (full context)
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
Losing none of his bluster, Bounderby then demands of Mr. Gradgrind an explanation for his daughter's behavior. As Mr. Gradgrind hesitatingly tries to explain that her... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 4
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
...skeptical of all of their claims, and angrily storms off, with Tom following after him. Gradgrind expresses sadness that an innocent man would be falsely charged with a crime, which causes... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 5
Femininity Theme Icon
...Bounderby's house, and triumphantly presents her to Bounderby (who happens to be meeting with Mr. Gradgrind and Tom), as one of the suspects connected with the robbery. Her actions draw a... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 6
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
He then calls Louisa to his side, who has also come along with Tom, Gradgrind, and many others, and tells her to bring Mr. Gradgrind to him, which she does... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 7
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
Tom, however, has mysteriously disappeared. As Stephen gave his last instructions to Mr. Gradgrind, Sissy whispered something in Tom's ear, and he vanished before anyone present at Stephen's rescue... (full context)
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Gradgrind goes into seclusion for a full day, not eating or speaking to anyone, and emerges... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 8
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
"Bitzer," says Mr. Gradgrind, "have you a heart?" Naturally, his old star pupil does not, and neither will he... (full context)
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
...he will let Bitzer use his carriage to take Tom back to Coketown. Louisa and Gradgrind are dismayed, but Sissy recognizes that Sleary, in fact, has a plan to free Tom.... (full context)
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Gradgrind tries to pay Sleary, but Sleary refuses any money, saying instead that Gradgrind should just... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 9
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
...miserly old lady. Mr. Bounderby continues being the arrogant, blustery humbug he always was. Mr. Gradgrind remedies his ways and changes his philosophy of life and education so that facts make... (full context)