Hard Times Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

Hard Times book cover
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What is the moral of story Hard Times?

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The moral of Hard Times is that a life built completely on the basis of facts and statistics is limited and unhappy. Gradgrind raises his children, Tom and Louisa, to value only money and to live entirely by practical values. As a result, Tom robs a bank, and Louisa marries the older Bounderby, a man she doesn't love, to gain money and security. She is miserable and nearly runs off with James Harthouse.

Through Tom and Louisa, Dickens shows the limitations of the philosophy of utilitarianism, which defines happiness as the greatest good for the greatest number. In contrast to the Gradgrinds, Dickens introduces Sissy Jupe, the abandoned daughter of a circus clown, who represents the world of creativity and caring that Gradgrind wants to eradicate as worthless. She is a kind and compassionate person who prevents the elopement of Louisa and Harthouse and helps Tom out of his predicament with the bank theft. Through her, Dickens shows the importance of such "worthless" parts of life as imagination, love, and compassion for individual human beings.

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