Hard Times

Hard Times by Charles Dickens (1854). “Now, what I want is, Facts,” reads the opening of this entertaining melodrama animated by impassioned social protest and indignant satire. In the humorless martinet Gradgrind, who preaches and practices uncompromising logic and efficiency, Dickens lampoons the soulless utilitarianism of Victorian philosopher John Stuart Mill. Such reason has spawned the grimy, industrial city of Coketown—which Dickens contrasts with a traveling circus—and informs the subplot concerning Stephen Blackpool’s inescapable, unhappy marriage (a sour fictionalization of Dickens’s own domestic miseries).

Total Points: 8 (TM 5) (MW 3)