Hard Times Themes

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Mr. Gradgrind's educational philosophy is based on the utilitarian idea that only facts and figures are important. This excludes all other values, especially "fancy." Everything in Gradgrind's world is based on facts, measurement, and strict order. Even his house, with its rigidly symmetrical design, reflects his principles, as do the grounds. Lawn, garden, and walkway are all "ruled straight like a botanical account-book."

Fancy, on the other hand, is embodied in the child's sense of wonder, which Gradgrind attempts to eradicate in his children. Tom and Louisa are not allowed to read poetry, learn nursery rhymes, or indulge in other childish amusements. Instead of toys, their nursery contains cabinets in which various metallurgical and mineralogical specimens are neatly arranged and labeled. Once, when Louisa began a conversation by saying, "I wonder," her father had replied, "Louisa, never wonder!" For him, all questions in life can be...

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This section contains 1,230 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Hard Times Study Guide
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Novels for Students
Hard Times from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.