By Charles Dickens
Hard Times--Dickens's shortest novel and one in all his triumphs--tells the tragic tale of Louisa Gradgrind and her father and has had lasting attract generations of readers.
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Extra resources for Hard Times
That was the cot of my infancy; an old egg-box. As soon as I was big enough to run away, of course I ran away. Then I became a young vagabond; and instead of one old woman knocking me about and starving me, everybody of all ages knocked me about and starved me. They were right; they had no business to do anything else. I was a nuisance, an incumbrance, and a pest. ” His pride in having at any time of his life achieved such a great social distinction as to be a nuisance, an incumbrance, and a pest, was only to be satisfied by three sonorous repetitions of the boast.
I’m suggesting that the language of his anger in Hard Times is all that he can muster time and space to develop. The novel is conceptual from the start—an examination primarily of issues more than souls. ” Dickens has pace and room enough only for the anger that usually accompanies his issue-oriented perspective. Character is, of course, offered in the novel; Dickens cannot help but express his genius for presenting us with people who are unforgettable. But the major portions of his talent, energy, and column inches, of necessity, are devoted to crucial topics; and, given the way Dickens’ talent works, we get, necessarily, more of the journalistic voice, the voice about issues—and more issue-forced caricature than character.
Vagabond, errand-boy, vagabond, labourer, porter, clerk, chief manager, small partner, Josiah Bounderby of Coketown. Those are the antecedents, and the culmination. Josiah Bounderby of Coketown learnt his letters from the outsides of the shops, Mrs. Gradgrind, and was first able to tell the time upon a dial-plate, from studying the steeple clock of St. Giles’s Church, London, under the direction of a drunken cripple, who was a convicted thief, and an incorrigible vagrant. ” Being heated when he arrived at this climax, Josiah Bounderby of Coketown stopped.
Hard Times by Charles Dickens