Take a passage from Hard Times (a paragraph long) and explain why and how this paragraph is important to the key themes of the novel.

I’ve taken a passage from Book the First: Chapter two, which I was engaged with when it was read in the lecture. This passage is broken up through the stage of three pages. It is one of the initial places that the audience introduced to one of the key themes which is the conflict with being able to attain imaginative freedom versus fact, fact, fact.

Dickens’ emerges this concept of Imaginative freedom when introducing a circus girl names Sissy Jupe. Her importance to this theme is that she is the symbol of everything that is allowed to be out of line and free. By introducing her in this paragraph Dickens’ also shows how harsh people can be when they think they are of a higher standard, as shown by Mr Gradgrind when he complains about the way she says her name.

“Girl number twenty”, said Gradgrind, squarely pointing with his square forefinger, “I don’t know that girl who is that girl?” “Sissy Jupe, sir,” explained number twenty, blushing, standing up, and curtseying.
“Sissy is not a name,” said Mr Gradgrind. “Don’t call yourself Sissy. Call yourself Cecilia.” … Page 8

“Girl number twenty is unable to define a horse!” said Mr Gradgrind, for the behoof of all the little pitchers. “Girl number twenty possessed of no facts, in reference to one of the commonest of animals! Some boy’s definition of a horse. Bitzer, yours.” …. Page 9

Another notion, which I find really interesting, is the underlying argument between imaginative freedom and fact. It is almost as if Mr Gradgrind is tagging in someone who he believes holds sufficient about of detail to embarrass someone who lacks the basics, someone who breathes their sentence and goes with the flow. Bitzer’s role isn’t just to answer the question it is to foreshadow the desperate lengths the idea of ‘fact’ goes to the life of the citizens in Coketown.

“Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Shed coats in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in the mouth.” … Pages 9-10

This scene in the novel, at the school, reveals the constant concept which runs throughout the story. That Coketown is not just a town who judges those who are poor, though live with happiness in their lives rather than to those who live in an upper class or higher status and are despaired by how unhappy facts make them. However, it introduces ‘Imaginative Freedom’ and by having it allows the character and the reader become more open to the benefits of being ‘free’ within your mind and in this society.

Image: CokeTown https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8vq8RsksyLo/VUMTidv6luI/AAAAAAAAzdE/F_AYvzfffo0/s640/blogger-image-1743185939.jpg

Quotes: Dickens, Charles, and Fred Kaplan. Hard Times. 1st ed. Print.

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5 thoughts on “#4 Themes in Hard Times

  1. Annaliese, I really enjoyed reading your blog this week! I loved the way you included specific quotes in your analysis because it makes my understanding of the novel clearer. I also appreciated very much your understanding of Coketown, not just as a city that underlines poverty, but as a town that can lead to imaginative freedom. I agree with you, at the end, when you say that people who grew up in wealth condition but without sentiment, didn’t conduce a better life. Instead, those who have grown up with ought money turn to be far happier than the ones who grew up with money. After all, tenderness and affection are more important than wealth and this is very clear from your writing! I loved the very positive interpretation of the story! Well done!
    Bea

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Annaliese! I really loved your blog this week, the quotes you picked from the book and the way you explained it was perfect! You have actually made the book quite easier to interpret, well done. Keep up the good work, I look forward to what you write next!

    Liked by 1 person

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