Life and works: was born in Portsmouth in 1812. He had an unhappy childhood because his father went to prison when he was 12 and he had to work in a factory from these suffering days he tray inspiration for he works. When he realised that he had a talent for writing he became a journalist at the Parliament and Law Courts. He had a great successful and he continued with his novel such as Oliver Twist, Hard times and David Copperfield. In these novel he showed children’s life in the slums and factories. In all his novel the background of the story was the social issues and the conditions of the poor in Victorian Age. He died in 1870 and he was buried in Westminster Abbey.
-Plot of dickens’ novel: Dickens was a storyteller and his novel was influenced by the Bible, fairy tales, fables and nursery rhymes and by the Gothic novel [reaction against the industrialization, denunciation of social problem, very monotony plot]. London was the setting of the great parts of his Novel, in fact he knew London and described it in realistic details. At the beginning his character belong to the middle class and he satirised. In his mature works Dickens showed to the reader the abuse of the modern society. He was not a revolutionary he was only describe the social condition during industrialization.
-Didactic aim: Children are often the most important characters in Dickens’s novel. Children in these novel became the moral teachers for the readers. In fact in this way the readers love his children and they became a model of behaviour for people. This didactic aim was very important because the upper class understood the social problem of the lower classes and poor .
-Plot: This novel is set in a imaginary city called Coketown. Thomas Gradgrind is an educator who belief in fact and statistics and he found a school where his theory are thought. He had 2 children and he repressing them their imaginations and feelings. He marries his daughter to Josiah Bounderby a rich banker but this marriage is unhappy. Tom, the other son , is lazy and selfish robs his employer but he is discovered and obliged to leave the country,
-Structure: The novel is divided in 3 books: the first book shows the education of Tom and Louisa ;
The second books shows what their education had bring: Luoisa’s unhappy marriage and Tom’s selfishness and criminal ways. The third book gives to the reader the details.
-A critique of materialism : criticism and denunciation of utilitarianisms and industrialization.
Hard time denounced the difference between the rich and poor or between factory owners and workers who were force to work long time in a dirty and dangerous factory for low pay. This Novel uses the characters and their story to denounce the gap between rich and poor and criticize the materialism of the Utilitarianism which was the basic Victorian attitude to economics. Hard Times shows that 19th century England transformed the human beings in machines without emotions an imaginations. Dickens’s principal aim in hard times is to illustrate the dangers of allowing humans to become like machines, suggesting that without compassion and imagination, life would be unbearable.
-Mr. Bounderby (bounder= canaglia) is the stereotype of the self-made man and he is proud of that. He is falsely humble, Dickens said that he is a “Bully of humility”, in fact he always proclaim himself as a man who has done it all alone with only his strength, so it’s a paradox: he always tell to everybody that he is humble but h, really, he shows that he’s not at all, and also he refuses and disgusts the humble people but in the same time he described himself as part of them. He is a rude man, eminently practical, calculating for this reason the author doubts about his friendship with Mr. Gradgrind (there could be a friendship between them, a person without feeling and emotion?).
Mr. Bounderby is a rich man, is a factory man “made out of a corse material”,he is big, opulent, he seems older than his age and he hasn’t not much hair (“he had talk it away/off”). He is a “ballon” ,vain and boastful and he loves to proclaim himself with his booming voice like a trombone.
-Mr. Gradgrind He is the headmaster of the coke town school ,he believes that human nature can be measured and governed by rational rules. So he try to transform the children of his school into machines according to that rules. His philosophy are facts (stick to facts), and He is a mathematic, logical, practical and provident man like we can see in his description (he had square finger, head, coat and shoulders) . He is the perfect man of the Victorian age who put at the first the economic aspect of the life and then the feelings (which are not considered). Even the children are the facts: they are the number of his school and not person, a reasoning animal whose had to be formed the mind upon facts!. He’s a material man empty of any content except for his vainglory and arrogance