The Balance of the Head and the Heart Essay

The Balance of the Head and the Heart Essay

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“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” (Dickens 5). So says Mr. Thomas Gradgrind, the proponent of a Utilitarian educational philosophy in Charles Dickens’ Hard Times. Cold, hard facts are what Mr. Thomas Gradgrind’s philosophy consists of, and cold hard facts are exactly what Tom and Louisa Gradgrind are raised on. They are taught by their father and by society to live their lives based on these facts. They are instructed to conduct themselves in accordance to them and nothing else. As stated by Taylor Stoehr, “Tom and Louisa Gradgrind are products of the Gradgrindian system, raised in Stone Lodge, taught in the school of hard facts, model grindings off the parent stone” (Stoehr 171). As a result of being raised in the loveless atmosphere of Stone Lodge and in accordance with the strictly enforced rules of the Gradgrindian system, Tom and Louisa are deprived of opportunities to cultivate imagination, emotions, and “fancy” (Dickens 5). The children are themselves fragmented and insufficient fragments who have been formed by a hard system of hard facts. By blocking every available outlet for the interplay of fantasy and emotion, Mr. Gradgrind unintentionally generates two extreme outcomes for his children. Even though the Gradgrind philosophy has completely different effects on Tom and Louisa Gradgrind, it ultimately deprives them both of the happiness that only a balance between the wisdom of the Head and the wisdom of the Heart can create.
Throughout their childhood and adult lives Tom and Louisa both come to resent the Gradgrind philosophy but are otherwise affected by it in completely different ways. Althoug...


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...n be seen as blank, unfeeling and depressed, much like the characterization of Louisa. In order to be completely balanced one’s training must consist of both the wisdom of the head, and the wisdom of the heart.



Works Cited

Butt, John, and Kathleen Tillotson. “Hard Times: The Problems of a Weekly Serial.” Dickens at Work. New York: Oxford UP, 1958. Rpt. in Twentieth Century interpretations of Hard Times. Ed. Paul E. Gray. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1969. 38-46.
Dickens, Charles. Hard Times. 1854. Kaplan and Monod 1-222.
Scheckner, Peter. “Gender and Class in Dickens: Making Connections.” The Midwest Quarterly 41.3 (2000): 236-250.
Simpson, Margaret. The Companion to Hard Times. Westport: Greenwood, 1997.
Sonstroem, David. “Fettered Fancy in Hard Times.” PMLA 84.3 (1969): 520-29. JSTOR. Concord U Lib., Athens, WV. 16 December 2009 http://www.jstor.org/.

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