Compared to some of his other books, this one seems almost light-hearted. Only, it’s not. It’s hard to explain. I really like the contrast of various characters, and the plights of Stephen Blackpool and Louisa Gradgrind.
“Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts; nothing else will ever be of any service to them.”
― Charles Dickens, Hard Times
Thus, the book essentially begins, building its characters, who believe such nonsense, from scratch. The rest of the book plays out the consequences of raising human children essentially without humanity. Along come characters who upset that ardent belief in Fact, and open wide the door for Faith, Hope, & Charity to show themselves to the victims of Fact, and bring disruption and healing.
Nothing is tied up perfectly neat and tidy, but neither is it left all in shambles. Some characters see their faults, learn, and change. Others suffer dreadful consequences. Still others just keep going on in their old way, but alone.
I would love to have read this in college course, and get more out of it via class discussions and professors. It seems ripe for that sort of thing.
I love Dickens.