Is Dickens successful in realistically presenting the problems of industrial society in Hard Times?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Where I think that Dickens' greatest success lies in Hard Times is through the depiction of a social mentality that fails to account for the complexity of emotional thought.  For the people in Coketown, like Thomas Gradgrind, the industrialist mentality in which "facts, not fancy" becomes the basis for all being in the world.  Dickens is able to show how difficult a condition this is.  Dickens is able to clearly assess how emotional thought and emotional understanding is needed in order to make life worth living.  When Louisa condemns her father for not providing her with the emotional frame of reference to exist in reality and when Tom becomes a source of sadness and shame for his father, Dickens has demonstrated success in depicting how a life devoted to only one source of the good can be limited.  Dickens is able to show that "hard times" results when individuals fail to account for multiple and differentiated forms of being in the modern setting.  Thomas' own acceptance of this demonstrates Dickens' success in showing the problems of mentality and mindset that exists within an industrial society.l

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