In Hard Times, is every character able to feel some type of love, even if it's not a "true" form of love? For example, even though Tom claims to love Louisa at the end, is it really love, since he...

In Hard Times, is every character able to feel some type of love, even if it's not a "true" form of love?

For example, even though Tom claims to love Louisa at the end, is it really love, since he never even learned how to love in the first place? We see in the scene between Sleary and Gradgrind that that Dickens believes that everyone has a mysterious force of love, but since it's never nurtured in Tom or Louisa, is their "love" really love?

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This is an excellent question to consider. I would actually argue that there are a number of characters in this wonderful novel who show that they are incapable of love, whatever their words actually indicate. You have identified that Tom is one of these, but I would also add Bounderby and of course Louisa to the list. In the case of Bounderby, we have a character whose life is built on a fabrication of lies and arrogance. He is incapable of understanding Louisa, his wife, and incapable of loving another human, even treating his mother in a terrible way.

For Louisa, and for Tom, we can...

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