Failure of Thomas Gradgrind (Hard Times by Charles Dickens)

Topics: Psychology, Education, Human nature Pages: 4 (1345 words) Published: January 18, 2014
Thomas Gradgrind is a man bereft of any imagination or fancy, and perhaps that is why he is a staunch believer in the practicality of the education system. He discards wonderment and regards facts and figures as the ultimate path to learning. In the novel Hard Times, the author Charles Dickens has shown Gradgrind as an educationist, and hence has portrayed him implementing his views on both his pupils in the school, as well as on his family. He expects his students to engage in nothing but factual education; and brings up his children on the same principle.

Fashioning his children on the principle of logic, he wants to make model beings out of them, which he may portray to society as examples of a practical nature. But he fails to understand the power of human emotions, or rather their weakness. Ignoring all possibilities of what hope and imagination could bring, into the lives of both himself and others around him, he creates a wall of facts beyond which it becomes very hard for his daughter Louisa and his son Tom to see, which they very much come to want. They get sick of their father’s ‘eminently practical’ ways and long to break free from the environment they are made to live in. Their desires and wishes are so subdued that they are forced to turn to whatever respite, no matter how little they can get from any source whatsoever.

Despite his efforts to implement his theory upon everyone around him, the seed of fancy does not die out in his son and daughter, and is evidently on display in the incident where the siblings are caught peeping in at the fanciful circus which fuels their starved imaginations, but their moment is short lived as they are caught by their eminently practical father who chastises them for their behavior. In his views, their behavior is astonishing, for such practical children are not expected to be seen paying attention to things such as circuses and other such buffoonery. His views, which he holds in such high regards, fail here...
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