Hard Times, by Charles Dickens, was a representation of his time. Times were hard for children and adults alike. People who questioned what they were taught, often went through struggles and “hard times. ” Eventually, the people who were looked down were the ones who really helped those in need. Throughout the book, there are many ironic instances. Thomas Gradgrind was a man built on the idea that facts and statistics were the only truth in life and all that was needed to have a healthy and productive life. The only truth to him was his very own vision of the truth.
Simple put, Thomas Gradgrind strived for perfection. He strived to be perfect, which is what his philosophy was based on, and he strived to make his children perfect and not to wonder. He raised his children never to wonder, never to doubt facts and to never entertain any vice or fancy. As soon as Gradgrind’s children were old enough to absorb, he was feeding giving more lessons than they could hold. His children were brought up only knowing one way to live and that was the idea that if it is not fact, then it is false.
He was emotionaless as were his children because they were brought up only knowing what they were taught by him. Eventually, as Gradgrind’s children became older, what they were taught began to turn sour in their minds. Tom, Grandgrind’s son, began to despise his father and all he was taught and thus began to rebel. He took to smoking and gambling, which eventually led to his downfall. Tom had grown up to become a sycophantic, self-absorbed parasite. He had turned out the exact opposite as hoped.
Thomas Gradgrind had raised his children never to wonder, but wondering intrigued them. Gradrgind had observed his children peeking into a circus tent because they were curious as to what was inside. The children were scolded for being curious, but seeds were planted into their minds of how there was more to life than what they had been taught. Futhermore, Tom, a usually well-behaved child, began to rebel after this incident. At first, he was rebelling in his mind, but eventually, after Tom moved out of his father’s house, so began his more visible rebellion.
Once more, this is exactly what Mr. Gradgrind had tried to avoid whilst raising his children. When Tom Gradgrind was in serious trouble because of his gambling debts, he confided in his sister, Louisa. Louisa was brought up to be emotionless and to not feel compassion, concern, or sympathy. But, when her brother Tom was in need of his sister’s help, she, for the first time, felt love for her brother. Josiah Bounderby was a fraud. He had lied about his childhood to make people feel sympathy for him.
Josiah Bounderby was a middle aged factory owner who was quite wealthy. Bounderby looked at his workers as “hands. ” To him, his workers were nothing more than robots. He felt that he was above them because of his wealth and his position. He thought that the penniless had no souls and no feelings. However, as Bounderby later is proved to be a fraud, it turns out that he was at the same level, if not lower, than the people he described that worked for him. Sissy Jupe, a child who had been scolded for her inability to accept fact over fancy, was not approved by Mr.
Gradgrind. He tried everything in his power to make Sissy Jupe more like him, but he could not because she had been raised by loving people who taught her that there is more to life than just statistics. After Sissy Jupe began living with the Grandgrind family, She began to rub off on them. After observing her and her values, The entire Gradgrind family saw that she was a genuinely caring and sympathetic girl and that’s when they started to notice that something about then was flawed; something in their life was missing.
Sissy Jupe showed the Gradgrind family what it feels like to love and how it feels to care. A child who was scorned for being herself was teaching a supposed “perfect” family values they did not possess and they were grateful. In conclusion, life didn’t turn out the way that was expected by many characters in “Hard Times. ” Those who strived to have perfect children, didn’t. And those who were looked down on proved be essential characters in finding that there was more to life than what they were taught.