Posted at 10.31.2018
Summary: Explores the thematic opposition between truth and pretty, or the top and the center in Charles Dickenss novel Hard Times. Explores the rivalry between these philosophies as a central theme to the CRISIS, and a fundamental crux of individual existence.
Charles Dickens resided in England during the 19th century, during a period of speedy economic expansion when the commercial revolution was completely swing. Industrial places sprung up throughout Britain, sustained entirely by their factories, which furiously churned out prosperity and merchandise and employed thousands of working class citizens. The living and working conditions for manufacturer laborers in these cities were extremely poor, and the prosperous bourgeoisie prospered marvelously by greedily exploiting their employees, unfortunate people who toiled long hours in grimy factories to hardly earn their subsistence. Utilitarianism was a common viewpoint during this period of commercial frenzy, for this embraced the principles of practicality and efficiency; and the success and success of the members of industrial population often depended on these criteria. Dickens was disgusted with the single-mindedness of his world and with the dreary, inanimate atmosphere that accompanied it. In his book Hard Times, an ongoing struggle ensues between the ideas of 'fact' and 'pretty'-- or the 'head' and 'center. ' The rivalry between these philosophies is a central theme to the Hard Times, not to mention a simple crux of real human existence as well. Should an individual bottom his life on fact and rationality, or should he live by the whims of his creativity and fancy, following his heart and soul? Dickens improvements this theme persistently throughout the Hard Times, employing frequent use of descriptive imagery and metaphor throughout book to animate the discord between Fact and Nice, and the consequence of this emphasis is a broader, encompassing critique of industrialized modern culture in general.
Dickens most evidently addresses simple fact and fancy through his portrayal of the education system in Coketown. The first chapter of the book commences with a conversation distributed by Mr. Gradgrind, resolved to the pupils at his school: "Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls only Facts. Facts only are required in life. Plant nothing at all else, and main out everything else. " Gradgrind will take enormous take great pride in in being "eminently sensible;" a "man of realities;" and he nobly (in his thoughts and opinions) endeavors to bestow these attributes on the younger looking pupils--or somewhat, to smother them in factual instructions. In short, Dickens offers an definitely condemning impression of Gradgrind and the school by depicting their forceful, joyless educational methods in contrast to the innocence and fragility of the kids.
Just as Gadgrind rigorously enforces his utilitarian criteria in his school, he is equally fervent in adhering to these guidelines in his own home. He genuinely feels that his ideals are crucial to leading a successful, productive existence, and instructs his children consequently, making use of his "mechanical artwork and enigma of educating the reason without stooping to the cultivation of the sentiments and affections. " Louisa and Tom must absorb large numbers of factual knowledge from an early age, while, together, their daddy systematically represses and eradicates any notions of wonder or thoughts that they might amuse, chiding them, "Never ponder!" And in addition, Mr. Gradgrind seeks through his parental information to elicit the same results as with his school--the transformation of children into machine-like individuals, without personality yet supposedly well suited for efficiently carrying out the monotonous, repeated labors of industrial Coketown.
In addition to his firm commitment to everything factual, Gradgrind himself actually personifies the ideas fact and practicality. Dickens uses considerable imagery to give information of Gradgrind's appearance, which is decidedly severe and methodical, including his "square forefinger, " "square wall of a forehead"--as if the form of a square itself denotes the idea of 'fact'--and eye which "found commodious cellarage in two dark caves. " Later his face is more generally described as "unbending" and "utilitarian, " and overall, every part of his appearance acts to point out his rigid devotion to frigid facts and his detailed disregard of any kind of non-factual nonsense. Dickens uses more imagery to describe the tedious existence of the Gradgrind children under their father, declaring that "life at Stone Lodge gone monotonously round just like a piece of machinery, " and Tom later describes Louisa as stuffed filled with "dry bone fragments and sawdust" by their father.
Mr. M'Choakumchild, a professor at the school, is another individual who is characterized figuratively by Dickens. Although his name is more than sufficient evidence to confirm his detrimental effect on the children, you can find further evidence of the harmful characteristics of his methods. The detrimental repercussions of his educational torments are especially pronounced when Dickens compares him to "Morgiana in the Forty Thieves;" the professor peers into "all the vessels ranged before him, " and Dickens's narrator addresses him: "Say, good M'Choakumchild. When from thy boiling store, thou shalt load each jar brim full by-and-by, dost thou think that thou wilt always destroy outright the robber Nice lurking within--or sometimes only maim him and distort him!" Within this analogy, the ills of suppressing feelings and fancy become disturbingly concrete; for someone to experience a twisted, crippled fancy could possibly be presumed as bad or worse than having none whatsoever, which potential hazard is manifested later in the novel.
Next to Tom and Louisa, Sissy Jupe is another figure in Hard Times who, perhaps most acutely, seems the oppressions of prohibited nice in Gradgrind's schoolroom. As the little princess of any circus performer, she actually is naturally very accustomed to thinking crazy, imaginative thoughts, and she battles in vain to acclimate herself to the meticulously factual lessons in school. In one example, when Gradgrind commands Sissy to describe a horse, she is already so petrified by Mr. Gradgrind's stern, unsympathetic countenance, as well as the intellectual constraints of the lesson already enforced heretofore, that she fails even to offer a response. On the other hand, Bitzer, a youngster in her course, gives a highly abstruse, scientific answer which pleases Mr. Gradgrind hugely: "Quadruped. Gramnivorous. 40 tooth. Sheds coating in springtime. . . "
Later Dickens uses more imagery to immediately contrast Sissy and Bitzer, implicitly furthering the introduction of 'reality' and 'nice. ' When he identifies the two pupils, who happen to sit down in the same row-and, at the time, in the same sunbeam-Sissy, who is full to filled with fancy, is literally glowing in the sunlight: "the girl was so dark-eyed and dark-haired, that she seemed to receive more lustrous color from sunlight. " For Bitzer, who is already crammed full of information and absolutely devoid of any sort of imaginative faculty, the light functions to "acquire of him what little color he ever possessed. . . his epidermis was so unwholesomely deficient in the natural tinge that he seemed as if, if he were minimize, he'd bleed white. " This way, Dickens underscores the ghastly ramifications of an oppressed creativeness by setting off the colorless debility personified by Bitzer's physical appearance, from the sun-drenched vitality that shines from the fanciful Sissy; thus, once more, Dickens exemplifies the backwardness of Coketown's educational system.
Aside from ornamenting his descriptions with recurrent imagery, Dickens also uses various metaphors to stress the opposition between truth and luxury. The particulars of Gradgrind's utilitarian slant on the correct education of the youngsters are peppered with metaphors that Dickens attracts on to mockingly embellish his obstinate convictions. Gradgrind's schoolroom is a "vault, " and his pupils are "little vessels" and "little pitchers, " neatly viewed and naively awaiting the "imperial gallons of facts" which will be crammed into them. Gradgrind intends to forcefully rid these delicate "vessels" of any extravagant and imagination completely, considering these merits to be useless follies that provide no practical utilization in real life, and Dickens emphasizes Gradgrind's over-zealous capacity for devastation when he represents him as "some sort of cannon loaded to the muzzle with facts, and prepared to blow them remove of the parts of years as a child at one discharge. " In short, Dickens offers an undoubtedly condemning impression of Gradgrind and the school by metaphorically depicting their forceful, joyless educational methods in contrast to the naivet and fragility of the kids.
A primary aim of Coketown's industrialized environment soon is apparently uniformity itself, another theme that is greatly increased by metaphorical terms. When Mr. M'Choakumchild is unveiled, Dickens informs us that "he and some a hundred and forty other schoolmasters had been lately turned at the same time, in the same manufacturer, on the same key points, like so many pianoforte lower limbs"--thereby effectively likening the training of teachers to industrialized production, and also hinting that the process of mass producing standardized machines of people is a simple, driving push in Coketown's modern culture. This make permeates the education of the youth in school, where the machine-like professor will mass produce industry-proficient citizens from the raw materials available in the pliable little pupils. And if they are to be suitably equipped for real life, Gradgrind presumes that these children will need facts--slews of facts--and innocence and creativeness are to be rooted away and discarded. The done products of the rigorous training will emerge by the dozens, aptly-suited to excel in the industrial drudgery of Coketown.
Louisa and Tom Gradgrind, unsurprisingly, have the incompleteness of these existence even at an early age, and in a single example when their attention provides the better of them, they can't resist peeping through a fence at a circus performance. When their dad catches them in the act, he is astounded, angered to find them in such a "degraded position. " At this time Tom merely offers "himself up to be taken home like a machine" (my emphasis), but Louisa is not quite so conditioned or obedient as Tom and shows more resistance to her dad. Dickens depicts her singular, pitiful appearance in this moment in time: "struggling through the dissatisfaction of her face, there is a light with nothing to rest upon, a fire with little or nothing to shed, a starved thoughts keeping life alone somehow, which brightened its appearance. " Louisa's inner flames becomes a continuing metaphor throughout CRISIS that symbolizes her suppressed creativeness, and it requires on additional interpretation later in the novel. In this passage, the fire losing inside Louisa has already been starved but persists nevertheless. Figuratively speaking, her creativity smolders weakly and smokily one of the "dry bone fragments and sawdust" that she's been filled with, and rather than a healthy fire of thoughts and imagination, Louisa is filled with "languid and monotonous smoke cigarettes. "
Later in the novel, the long-term ramifications of enduring a childhood devoted to facts become blatantly noticeable. Once Tom obtains his long-awaited self-reliance from his father's cold, scientific command line, the thorough training of his child years violently backfires. Tom spirals downward in a string of more and more irresponsible, self-indulgent conducts, including gambling and drinking, and eventually he gambles himself into monetary crises. His true colors come to the top as he tries to deal with his problems, and we find out that, with all the current facts and results that his father ground into him, Gradgrind acquired apparently either overlooked or fallen lacking instilling any sort of moral fibre in his kid. Ironically, Tom eventually ends up seeking refuge from the law by carrying out in disguise in the circus, the last place his daddy would have forecasted during Tom's disciplined junior. Ultimately, Tom eventually ends up fleeing overseas after he rebukes Louisa for not supporting him with his bad debts, and on international soil, full of remorse, he sickens and dies while attempting to go back to his precious sister. All in all, Gradgrind's horrible parenting is the reason for his son's failures in life; Tom's squashed feelings of curiosity and enchantment exploded out of control after they were unbridled, leading to his swift and fatal downfall. Through Tom's dismal fate, Dickens grimly illustrates the repercussions of Gradgrind's utilitarian affect on those under his care and attention.
Louisa, on the other hands, does not come across so desolate a destiny as her sibling, but the ramifications of her deprived years as a child are nevertheless pronounced. While still young, Louisa marries Mr. Bounderby, an ill-fated decision that resulted largely due to the dispassionate countenance that her father infused in her from an early age. Later, like her sibling, she easily succumbs to temptation once she is freed from her father's flat iron grasp. In her circumstance, the temptation is an affair with James Hearthouse, a man who easily appeals to Louisa's immature, undeveloped thoughts. However, Harthouse rouses Louisa's long-dormant emotions into a sluggish agitation, and before she consummates any infidelity, the psychological poverty of her life engulfs her in a jolting, inescapable reality--the realization that she is destined to lead a numb and passionless existence--and so she returns to her daddy filled with anguish and reproach, accusing him of ruining her. The 'hearth' metaphor looks again, for the once-sedated imaginative tendencies inside of Louisa have become destructive, using "within her like an unwholesome fire. " She spends the rest of her times at Natural stone Lodge under the loving effect of Sissy, endeavoring to regain what possessed become withered and stunted under her father's attention. Regrettably, Louisa has been completely robbed of her interior spirit, her capacity to reside in sense, and she in the end endures a bleak lifetime, struggling to secure a home or children of her own.
Fortunately, Mr. Gradgrind is ready learn the problem of his ways, but his alteration does not free the wreck of his two eldest children. When Louisa results and reveals to him the consequences of his parenting, he's initially doubtful, but is eventually persuaded by the "wild dilating open fire" in his daughter's sight. Once he involves terms with the actual fact that his life and beliefs, everything he previously previously stood for, are in mistake, he finds the wise realization "that there is a intelligence of the Head, and that there surely is a wisdom of the Heart. " Later he acknowledges that Sissy, "by mere love and gratitude, " has brightened his household and his youngest princess: "what the Head had kept undone and could not do, the Center might have been doing silently. " Gradgrind's realization is ironic, for he's the last figure who we'd expect to say the shortcomings of 'facts' and the capabilities of the 'center. ' Dickens's concept is clear: neither the top nor the Heart and soul is inherently bad; instead, the rival philosophies supplement one another, and both should wholeheartedly embraced and juxtaposed so that little or nothing can be "left undone. "
Finally, Sissy Jupe acts as a stark distinction to the other ill-fated individuals. After her dad abandons her early on in the book, she takes up residence with none other than the Gradgrinds themselves. Sissy is innately willing toward expensive and an animated creativeness, and her experiences in the school room show that she will speak from her heart, somewhat than conforming to the spiritless design that Gradgrind's college holds in store on her behalf. Indeed, her center proves too strong and excited to post to the corrupting instruction she will get in school, and therefore she is withdrawn therefore of her 'inaptitude. ' Despite the halt in her education, Sissy grows up into a smart, compassionate girl during her years with the Gradgrinds, still retaining her robust imagination--a rather astounding accomplishment considering the notoriously unwholesome atmosphere of Stone Lodge. Later in the book Sissy becomes a beacon of morals and kindness to the troubled Louisa: "Inside the innocence of her courageous affection, and the brimming up of her old dedicated nature, the once deserted gal shone such as a beautiful light after the darkness of the other. " Furthermore, only Sissy can commence to fix Louisa's misshapen heart with her "soft touch" and "sympathetic hand" and inhale and exhale the beginnings of life into an psychologically dead heart and soul; and again it is Sissy who gives the youngest Gradgrind princess the affectionate nurturing that Louisa and Tom needed so badly in their youths.
By emphasizing the ideas of reality and pretty in Hard Times, Dickens paints a discerning model of the industrialized Victorian modern culture, exemplifying its defects in character types like Gradgrind and Bounderby. Overall, Dickens makes Gradgrind and his school entirely detrimental and sinister, therefore presenting a possible critique of the institutions in Victorian England at the current time. More importantly, however, the smaller world of the class room directly reflects the larger, zealously industrialized culture that is present outside--both Coketown itself and the planet in which Dickens lived. Through the main heroes and their experience in the representative environment of education, Dickens exemplifies the shallowness and decadence of industrialized current economic climate, which is epitomized by Coketown. Gradgrind and Bounderby deem the Coketown personnel, like Louisa and Tom, to be "eternally dissatisfied and unmanageable, " and Dickens openly speculates that there surely is an "analogy between the case of the Coketown people and the truth of the tiny Gradgrinds. " Furthermore, Coketown itself embodies the characteristic information of Gradgrind's home and classroom, shown in the lines "Fact, simple fact, fact, everywhere in the material facet of the town; reality, fact, fact, everywhere in the immaterial, " and the previously observed harms of the Coketown school room are amplified in Coketown's factories, where machinery is "chopping people up" and the personnel face death "young and misshapen. " Additional information of Coketown give evidence of the inherent frailty of its moral and societal underpinnings, for although the town appears mighty and deathless, using its raging factories of fire and smoke and its tyranny within the enslaved workers, Coketown's machinery throbs "feebly like a fainting pulse. " The lack of any sort of supporting basis is further emphasized by the patchy, insubstantial quality imparted on the buildings by its soot and dirt: the town is "shrouded in a haze of its own, " "a blur of soot and smoking, " discernible only as a "sulky blotch after the prospect. " Furthermore, Dickens actually shows that this industrialized modern culture is actually corrupt and sinful when he conveys Coketown as "nothing but masses of darkness" that "confusedly" desire to "the vault of Heaven, " with its chimneys "rising up into the air like fighting Towers of Babel. " These information cast an extremely accusatory, judgmental light on industrialism and its perpetuators in general.
In CRISIS, these perpetuators, or the bourgeoisie overall, are displayed by Mr. Bounderby, a despicable, selfish persona, and a "self-made Humbug" (in his own words) who cases to check out the same school of thought as Gradgrind, and he constantly proclaims the fantastic tales of his impoverished, empty childhood and unlikely rise to fortune. When Gradgrind encounters Mrs. Bounderby at the end of the book, he hastily reproaches her, questioning at her audacity in demonstrating her face to her boy, to which she replies, "Lord forgive you, sir, for your wicked imaginations. " This declaration is ironic on several levels, for Gradgrind has only recently deserted his rigid dependence on facts--but now, that which he considered most dependably factual and true is exposed as a pinnacle of fanciful lays. Furthermore, Gradgrind himself previously propagated the notion that thoughts is worthless and wicked; consequently, there is now sort of role-reversal between himself and Bounderby's mom. Finally, Bounderby, that durable and respected upholder of rationality and fact, is uncovered as an utter hypocrite. He's a man so deeply inlayed in ludicrous fabrications that his complete public identity is an invented faade, a jumble of ridiculous, fanciful delusions, analogous to the elusive, ethereal characteristics of Coketown itself. It is his imagination that is actually wicked, and he merely endorses utilitarian views consequently of his greedy self-interest. By portraying Bounderby as a shameless deceiver who's oblivious to the plight of his employees, Dickens suggests that industrialized culture has been created and sustained without respect to man compassion or morality, and that, as something, this type of world fosters only vice and misery.
In synopsis, Dickens creates a loveless, greed-driven world within Coketown's colleges and factories, where in fact the principles of the marketplace take precedence over human compassion. By sanctioning the proliferation of fact and rationality, as well as the oppression of creativeness of pretty, Bounderby has no benevolent motive. He looks for to increase his wealth by increasing the efficiency of his workers, and the particular education of the children in Coketown is only one manifestation of industrialized greed. Gradgrind, on the other palm, harbors good motives for the kids, but regarding the ramifications of his actions, he is gravely mistaken, as Dickens so explicitly shows. Although Dickens will not give you a clear method for society's ills, he portrays the goodness of humankind in the users of the circus, who "cared so little for basic Fact, " and about whom "there is a impressive gentleness and childishness" and an "untiring readiness to help and pity each other. " On one take note of, however, Dickens is quite clear: human nature cannot be reduced to a plethora of facts and numbers, and neither can it be predicted so:
It is well known, to the make of a single pound weight, what the engine will do; but not all the calculators of the Country wide debt can inform me the capacity once and for all or evil, for love or hatred, for patriotism or discontent, for the decomposition of virtue into vice. . . at any sole point in time in the spirit of one of the quiet servants.
Dickens regularly illustrates the grave repercussions of Coketown's contemporary society, of stifling the open fire of imagination, providing a disturbing point of view of real human greed and its capacity to corrupt.