Charles Dickens has written many novels and most of them are very well-known. The prominent among his novels are mostly the works which discuss the plights of the poor people in enormously increasing England – industrially and intellectually. With no space or the minimum space left for the have-nots, this novelist took the charge and began writing with the perspective in mind. His novel Hard Times discusses two very important things – one is how the poor people saw rich England and how the rich people saw poor England. As a reader, you can apparently find two sections of characters in the novel. There is a visible contrast. Let’s discuss the same.
On one side, you can see characters like Gradgrind, Tom, Mr M’Choakumchild and on the other, you have the ones like Louisa, Sissy, and Stephen. The contradiction is not only visible in their lifestyle but also in their intellectual attitude towards various things and ideas. While Gradgrind and Choakumchild believe that knowledge does not have to do anything with the emotional attributes, Sissy has a different approach and that’s the reason she has to lose her seat.
Talking about the abstract scenario, the circus has been pushed out of the city and many banks and factories have replaced the empty or the farming fields. For happiness or leisure that brings joy in life, people have to go outside the city. Louisa and Tom, in their childhood, often try to peep inside the circus but they are caught by their father and can never meet themselves with the pleasure they want. On the other hand, Sissy is born in that environment and that’s why she finds herself deluded when she is with the intellectuals… a stark contrast is visible.
About the novel, reading Hard Times is not as boring as reading many other Victorian novels is. Charles Dickens might be said to be on his better, if not the best, writing this novel. It’s not as romantic as Jane’s novels might be; it’s not as cynic as Thackeray’s novels might be; it’s not as revolutionary as Hardy’s novels might be… still, there is a different thing about it – Hard Times is something different and it has to be treated as such. If you want to read it, you should begin without thinking too much; it is to be read and enjoyed and pondered thereafter.
All the best reading this novel! More reviews will be coming soon on Books to Read.
Hard Times is one of those Victorian novels which is easy to read and easier to understand. Do read it if you are making a list of Victorian novels for your reading.