Hard Times Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

Hard Times book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What do you consider the major moral lesson in Hard Times by Charles Dickens?

The major moral lesson Hard Times teaches is that living a life of utilitarian material calculation, rather than a life of empathy, feeling, and imagination, leads to misery.

Expert Answers info

David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write11,865 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

The main moral lesson in Hard Times is that industrialization, if unchecked, can turn human beings into machines, into cogs in a vast system of production. Such a process involves the deliberate suppression of human emotions and the imagination. Under such a system, education exists to cram children’s heads full of facts; there is no place for imagination or empathy. Mr. Gradgrind isn’t concerned with broadening the horizons of his pupils, or encouraging them to think about the world around them. He simply wants to prepare students to be the next generation of industrial automata, robots toiling away for long hours in the factories that are springing up all over the length and breadth of the country.

Utilitarians like Gradgrind have a very impoverished view of human nature, which they see as being readily quantifiable, as something that can be measured, calculated, and controlled. The idea that there are always hidden depths to human nature doesn’t occur to him for a moment. As far...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 935 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write11,320 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

dashing-danny-dillinger eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write186 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

check Approved by eNotes Editorial