Analyze Dickens's art of characterization in Hard Times.

The art of Charles Dickens’s characterization in Hard Times can be analyzed in terms of how Dickens uses dialogue, behavior, and juxtaposition to highlight the distinctive traits of Thomas Gradgrind, Sissy Jupe, and the other key characters in the novel.

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To analyze Charles Dickens’s art of characterization in Hard Times, one can discuss how Dickens crafts the individual characters that appear in his novel. To do so, one can talk about how Dickens draws out the distinguishing traits of his characters through their speech, behavior, and relationships.

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To analyze Charles Dickens’s art of characterization in Hard Times, one can discuss how Dickens crafts the individual characters that appear in his novel. To do so, one can talk about how Dickens draws out the distinguishing traits of his characters through their speech, behavior, and relationships.

Immediately, Dickens demonstrates Thomas Gradgrind’s extremely unsentimental character with words. The first sentence of the novel is as follows: “Now, what I want is, Facts.” Dickens doesn’t attribute the opening speech to a specific character. Yet that’s part of the art of Dickens’s characterization. Based on what happens in the next chapter, it can be reasoned that the opening words were spoken by Gradgrind, as they build on Gradgrind’s stern, unfeeling characterization.

Dickens's art of characterization also involves pairing unlike characters together to further emphasize their clashing characteristics. Right away, Gradgrind is forced to confront his opposite in the form of Sissy Jupe. With her name, words, and manner, Dickens shows how Sissy represents vulnerability, feeling, and almost everything that Gradgrind admonishes. Later, Dickens uses juxtaposition to tease out the pompous, boorish character of Josiah Bounderby and the deeply conflicted character of Louisa, Gradgrind’s daughter.

Another key aspect of the art of Dickens’s characterization in Hard Times is his inclination to abandon past characterizations and let some of his characters evolve into different characters. Eventually, Louisa finds the resolve to confront her dad about their severe upbringing. In turn, Louisa’s dad realizes that he shouldn’t have been so set in his ways when it came to facts. For the finale, Dickens allows Gradgrind’s character to become what he previously condemned: a feeling, intuitive person who’s willing to consider the “wisdom of the Heart.”

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