Charles Dickens ' Hard Times Essay
27 April 2015
What does it Matter? In Hard Times, Charles Dickens explores several themes that he believed adversely affected both the individual in particular and society in general in Victorian England. Following what Thomas Carlyle had termed the “Condition of England Question,” Dickens focuses on the physical, mental, and spiritual oppression of the people, both wealthy and poor, as a result of the prevailing philosophy of the era, Utilitarianism. This philosophy, in turn, influenced the educational system of England at the time, resulting in an education built upon the strict foundation of knowledge of hard facts while denying the importance of fancy or the development of imagination.
This is the pervasive conflict that lies at the heart of the novel Hard Times, touching all characters and serving as the driving force for the emptiness, corruption, and sorrows of the mind and soul of individuals and the growing miseries of a society in crisis. Dickens’s novel expresses the belief that humans must possess both the ability to reason as well as utilize their imagination, and that these gifts must be respected and cultivated by the societal structure in order to improve the human condition for people from all walks of life. In Hard Times, Dickens proves that his characters, armed with only the knowledge of fact, divorced from imagination through the mechanization of education, labor, and an industrialized economic system…