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Both Hard Times and Great Expectations demonstrate struggles of the individual in an unjust society. In Hard Times, Sissy Jupe struggles with the facts-only, imagination crushing world of the Industrial Revolution. Pip struggles with issues of class and expectations.
Gradgrind is a perfect epitome of a myopic society.
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. (ch 1)
The problem is that there is no imagination, no love, no happiness in this world of facts. It may produce efficient human beings, but it also produces depressed ones.
Pip is also depressed, because all the world cares about is money and he doesn’t have any. When he gets it, his efforts to be embraced by the upper class go awry and end in disaster.
Magwitch explains that he brought Pip up to a higher status because he wanted to show a world that a gentleman was not better, after his experience being wronged by society.
At last, me and Compeyson was both committed for felony… Compeyson says to me, ‘Separate defences, no communication,’ and that was all. And I was so miserable poor, that I sold all the clothes I had, except what hung on my back, afore I could get Jaggers. (ch 42)
In the end, neither character survives the struggle with society whole, but each makes the most of the life he or she has chosen to live.
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