Hard Times Essay, Research Paper
In Charles Dickens’ novel Hard Times a conflict between Tom and his father Mr. Gradgrind is caused by
childhood devoid of fancy. Tom rebels from such a past by gambling, drinking and other unsavory habits.
This father/son conflict enhances the meaning of the work by showing how an improper upbringing can
lead to failure in adult life.
Mr. Gradgrind’s whole philosophy on life was that life itself should be composed entirely of facts
and nothing else. He believed the only way to make a successful man was to strip away the very essence of
his childhood, fun and fancy. Gradgrind forced his beliefs upon his children Louisa and Tom and while
Louisa simply became incapable of love, Tom vowed for vengeance against his father’s dogma. Tom plans
to enjoy life and wreak havoc at the same time when he moves out of their house the Stone Lodge. He
finances his expenses through Bounderby whom he manipulates by incorporating his needs to seem in his
sister’s favor. Tom also uses his sister’s great love for him by preparing her to marry Bounderby as this will
help in increasing his financial means. Tom lies to Stephen Blackpool telling him to loiter around the bank
for a job opportunity when in fact he is preparing to frame Stephen for a robbery he commits.
Tom does not go unpunished for his evil deeds for his planting the seeds of dishonesty he reaps
the harvest of guilt and isolation. When the villagers bring Blackpool out of Old Hell Shaft he clears
himself of the robbery by naming Tom as the man who told him to reside outside of the bank. Tom
attempts to escape from the country and after a brief encounter with the interfering Bitzer he manages to
leave and never return. Tom finishes the rest of his life as solitary depressed man his last words pleading
In Hard Times Dickens’ portrayal of the conflict between Gradgrind and his son contributes to the
message against the Utilitarian school of thought. Since the child never learned the fancies of society the
man abused them to the point of self-destruction. Tom’s life was led down the path to tragedy by his father’s
strict interpretation of the All-Fact No-Fancy way of “life”.