Permalink for this paragraph 0 I just finished Hard Times by Charles Dickens for my British Literature class, and I think it is a great example to apply New Historicism to, so that it may be fully appreciated and understood.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 The novel centers around a few citizens in Coketown, which is an industrial city perpetually covered with the smog from its factories. Thomas Gradgrind is a man who only believes in “Facts” because “Facts alone are wanted in life” (9). He raised his children, Louisa and Tom, with a no-nonsense philosophy that prohibited imagination and stunted creativity– things that Mr. Gradgrind views as completely unnecessary and inhibit success in life. He does not even let his children begin sentences with “I feel…” or “I fancy…” because that leaves things open to interpretation, not fact. Louisa and Tom are listless and do not now how to deal with their inherent emotions because of the way they were raised, and both fall into their own serious troubles as a result. Sissy Jupe, on the other hand, was taken into their home in order to be educated in Mr. Gradgrind’s school– which of course stresses absolute fact– but she originally grew up in the circus. The circus is a fun-loving, wondrous place that embodies everything Gradgrind cannot stand, so he tries to instill his values in Sissy. However, Sissy prevails and holds on to her caring, empathetic personality that Dickens portrays as the more favorable way of thinking that leads to true happiness.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Dickens’s opposition and critique of the values of the Industrial Revolution are essential to understanding the novel’s satire; without out the historical background, a reader of Hard Times would miss Dickens’s purpose for writing it.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Works Cited
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Dickens, Charles. Hard Times. ed. Kate Flint. London: Penguin Group, 2003. Print.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Flint, Kate. ”Introduction.” Hard Times by Charles Dickens. London: Penguin Group, 2003. xi-xxxii. Print.