ompare the presentation of Gradgrind and the presentation of the circus.
The Victorian era was a time of great change and in 1854, when Dickens was writing Hard Times, Britain was hugely confident as a developing industrial nation and Imperial power. Hard Times is a fictional literary review of the Science of Political Economy, and the philosophy of Utilitarianism. This was contemporaneous with the Conservative government’s view that the doctrine “the greatest good for the greatest number” should be the guiding principle of conduct. The book is little less than a virulent, scurrilous satire, a lampoon deriding the shortcomings of the times. Dickens centres his story around the Gradgrind family, especially Thomas Gradgrind, hardware manufacturer, founder of a model school and later MP for Coketown, “Eminently practical”, “A man of realities… facts and calculations.” In a letter to his friend Charles Knight, Dickens writes “My satire is against those who see figures and averages and nothing else- the representatives of the wickedest and most enormous vice of this time- the man who, through long years to come will do more damage to the real useful truths of political economy, than I could do (if I tried) in my whole lifetime…” It is through Gradgrind and Bounderby- his colleague and friend, later son in law- Dickens presents this vice to the reader.
As is to be expected in a satire, Gradgrind who Dickens makes to be a target of dislike from the reader, is subtly compared and measured against the circus and its people.
Dickens devotes the whole first chapter and much of the proceeding ones to presenting Gradgrind to the reader. All of the very first paragraph of the book is spoken by Gradgrind and tells us a lot about him as a person. “Now, what I want is, Facts” “Now” employed like this is used to preface remark, clarify a statement, get somebody’s attention and emphasise. It is quite intrusive, and said in this way emphasises his sense of his higher status...