Cruel Intentions in Hard Times by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens wrote Hard Times as an attempt to show the injustices of life for many different people and to explain that in order to be happy, people need one another. Through the epiphanies of many characters in this novel, Dickens shows their realization of this fact and how they plan to pursue their goals from there on. These characters are used as mouthpieces to spread the theme to the reader. Louisa Gradgrind, Stephen Blackpool, and Tom Gradgrind are such characters. All three follow their respective lives for the first book of the novel. As the story progresses, the reader sees these characters become unhappy and distant with their previous views as life begins to turn on them. For each, a last fleeting moment presents itself as they plan to change their ways and move forward to their best suited destination. Stephen, Louisa and Tom differ in their prior lives, their paths to change, and final plan of action, but they change for the better. These changes are used by Dickens to voice what he wishes in this novel. Through the use of many literary elements Dickens does this. Dickens uses imagery and foreshadowing to reflect the change in Louisa’s, Tom’s and Stephen’s view on life.
Louisa Gradgrind, the daughter of Thomas Gradgrind, has always followed her father’s philosophy of leading a factual based life, ever since her upbringing in her fathers school and up to many important decisions in life. Not until her marriage to Mr. Bounderby comes close to failing, does she realize the mistakes made in her life. She charges to her fathers home and expresses her concern to her father in a time of need. Dickens uses this moment of Louisa’s to showcase his mastery of imagery. This imagery adds to the event by characterizing Louisa’s thought patterns as a child of numbers. Louisa immediately speaks of her learning being twisted saying “…if I had groped my way by my sense of touch , and had been free… “(Dickens 162). The strong verbs that he uses to give voice to Louisa prove her feelings and let the reader know, this is not a hoax, she really means this. Another example lies in Louisa’s explanation of her marriage. She states, “…no general laws shall ever rule or state for me father, until they shall be able to direct the anatomist where to strike his knife into the secrets of my soul” (162). Her view of the anatomist exemplifies her growing up as she uses a metaphor of pouring out her soul with the exactness of the human anatomy. Her childhood has leaned her towards this side of life and away from anything mythical. She has difficulty explaining her feelings now even in this epiphany because of this. As she realizes the wrong that has taken place in her life, Dickens uses the connotation of her words to wrap images around her thoughts.
Louisa’s change in heart is also foreshadowed by Dickens in the novel. Dickens is a writer of order and he felt the need to drop hints of this coming of...