Hard Times Essay
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Mr Gradgrind says ‘ is it satisfactory to me… to know that you do not come to the consideration of that question with the previous habits of mind, and habits of life, that belongs to many young women’ in reference to fancy and emotion when deciding whether to marry Mr Bounderby or not. Later on in the page we are told that Louisa was ‘ compelled to throw herself upon his breast and give him the pent-up confidences of her heart’. However this doesn’t happen because Mr Gradgrind fails to see it.
This is because of the ‘artificial barriers’ that have been set up between him and his daughter and these barriers are primarily fact and his utilitarian views. It is a utilitarian view because he believes the decision should not be made based on the individual happiness of Louisa but on what will be best for everyone and therefore looking past her. It also is criticising Utilitarians and Mr Gradgrind through the use of dramatic irony in the sense that we see that Loo yearns to talk to her father but he doesn’t and we are criticising his inability to see it.
The barriers being set up are metaphorical barriers he has put between himself and his daughter emotionally to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people. The barriers are themselves blocking out ‘subtle essences of humanity’ with reference to fancy. By saying that fancy is an essence of humanity in accompaniment with Gradgrind’s will to get rid of fact we see that Dickens is showing us that utilitarian principles strip us of these essences of humanity and therefore de-humanises us.
Furthermore it is a very human ideal for a daughter to confide with her father or parent in general but here Louisa has been stripped of that showing us even more then de-humanising qualities of fact. Dickens then goes on to say that these subtle essences of humanity ‘will elude the utmost cunning of algebra until the last trumpet… blow even algebra to wreck’ saying to us that fancy and emotion will always beat fact. The ‘last trumpet’ is judgement day so Dickens is saying that fancy will win until the end of eternity.
This passage clearly shows Dickens preferences to emotion and how he feels it is superior although he does give fact some credit when he says ‘blow even algebra’ as if algebra is a tough subject to blow. Then dickens talks about how ‘with his… utilitarian… face he hardened her again’ telling us that utilitarianism is hardening Loo. First of all this builds sympathy for Loo because we were told earlier that Loo wanted to throw herself upon her father but she cant because of the barriers and is hardened again and secondly builds up our dislike for Gradgrind and utilitarianism more because of its hardening qualities.