Essay on Utilitarian Logic in Hard Times

Essay on Utilitarian Logic in Hard Times

Length: 1678 words (4.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Utilitarian Logic in Hard Times


Utilitarianism "Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in spring......" A perfect example of a product of utilitarian education, Bitzer defines a horse off the top of his head in a split second. Utilitarianism is the assumption that human beings act in a way that highlights their own self interest. It is based on factuality and leaves little room for imagination. Dickens provides three vivid examples of this utilitarian logic in Hard Times.

The first; Mr. Thomas Gradgrind, one of the main characters in the book, was the principal of a school in Coketown. He was a firm believer in utilitarianism and instilled this philosophy into the students at the school from a very young age, as well as his own children. Mr. Josiah Bounderby was also a practitioner of utilitarianism, but was more interested in the profit that stemmed from it. At the other end of the perspective, a group of circus members, who are the total opposite of utilitarians, are added by Dickens to provide a sharp contrast from the ideas of Mr. Bounderby and Mr. Gradgrind.

Thomas Gradgrind Sr., a father of five children, has lived his life by the book and never strayed from his philosophy that life is nothing more than facts and statistics. He has successfully incorporated this belief into the school system of Coketown, and has tried his best to do so with his own children. The educators see children as easy targets just waiting to be filled with information. They did not consider, however, the children’s need for fiction, poetry, and other fine arts that are used to expand children’s minds, all of which are essential today in order to produce well-...


... middle of paper ...


... imagination; which is the way life ought to be lived. Dickens obviously had a definitive opinion of the way life should be lived and did an excellent job of depicting it. His method was somewhat indirect in the sense that he worked backwards to get his point across, but turned out to be very effective as the story progressed.

Most of the story revolved around utilitarianism and the study of cold hard facts, but when the character flaws began to surface as a result of this philosophy, Dickens is quick to emphasize them. One actually sees the main character of the book and firm supporter of utilitarianism, Mr. Thomas Gradgrind, experience the faults of his practice and begin to stray from it. Now, after watching his life fall apart, maybe he wishes he were in the circus.

Works Cited:

Dickens, Charles. Hard Times. New York: WW Norton & Company, Inc. 1990.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Charles Dickens' Hard Times

- Charles Dickens' Hard Times The death of God for many in the Victorian era due to scientific discoveries carried with it the implication that life is nothing more than a kind of utilitarian existence that should be lived according to logic and facts, not intuition or feeling – that without God to impose meaning on life, life is meaningless. Charles Dickens, in Hard Times, parodies this way of thought by pushing its ideologies and implications to the extreme in his depiction of the McChoakumchild School....   [tags: School Dickens hard Times Essays]

Powerful Essays
845 words (2.4 pages)

Utilitarianism in Dickens' "Hard Times" Essay example

- ‘Hard Times’ is a wonderful story, but when one thinks about the reality that lies behind the work, the novel becomes a masterpiece. This novel becomes very important because utilitarianism was the main thought in Victorian era. Utilitarianism, “the forms of liberty and equality that will produce the greatest happiness depend on the state of the educational, political, economic, and social structure” (Harris). Everything is explained by logic and facts. It is easy for the reader to find out that Dickens teases this theory, but the exciting thing is how he does it through the characters....   [tags: Literary Analysis ]

Powerful Essays
1226 words (3.5 pages)

Hard Times - The Theme of Education Essay

- Hard Times - The Theme of Education In this piece I intend to explain how Dickens is trying to represent education in the Victorian era and how he feels about the style of teaching that is widely used during his times. I also intend to make references to how the representation of Victorian schools by Dickens compares, historically to the actual conditions in a school from the Victorian era. As soon as the book begins we are introduced to a style of teaching that is dependent only on facts. One of the main characters of the novel is Thomas Gradgrind and he is the enforcer of this utilitarian style of education and is described as a man who is very strict....   [tags: English Literature]

Powerful Essays
2703 words (7.7 pages)

Essay about Hard Times and Charles Dickens

- The novel Hard Times by Charles Dickens is a fictitious glimpse into the lives of various classes of English people that live in a town named Coketown during the Industrial Revolution. The general culture of Coketown is one of utilitarianism. The school there is run by a man ready to weigh and measure any parcel of human nature . This man, known as Thomas Gradgrind, is responsible for the extermination of anything fanciful and integration of everything pertinent and factual into the young, pliable minds of Coketown’s children....   [tags: GCSE English Literature Coursework]

Powerful Essays
1822 words (5.2 pages)

Introduction To Hard Times Essay

- The shortest of Dickens' novels, Hard Times, was also, until quite recently, the least regarded of them. The comedy is savagely and scornfully sardonic, to the virtual exclusion of the humour - that delighted apprehension of and rejoicing in idiosyncrasy and absurdity for their own sakes, which often cuts right across moral considerations and which we normally take for granted in Dickens. Then, too, the novel is curiously skeletal. There are four separate plots, or at least four separate centres of interest: the re-education through suffering of Mr....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
1985 words (5.7 pages)

Charles Dickens ' Hard Times Essay

- Charles Dickens believes that the key to a quality education is the inclusion of creativity and imagination in the structure of learning. At the time of writing the novel Hard Times, Dickens was extremely dissatisfied with the education system in place in Victorian England. He believed that education was a big part of a person’s life and contributed to their outcome as human being in society. The education at the time severely emphasized utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is when actions are considered good and right if they benefit a majority....   [tags: Hard Times, Charles Dickens]

Powerful Essays
1618 words (4.6 pages)

Charles Dickens ' Hard Times Essay

- Charles Dickens’ Hard Times portrays Gradgrind in an intriguing way. He works his way up in life, starting as a hardware trader, later starting a school and eventually becoming a member of Parliament. He is strict in forcing facts and figures on his family and his students because he wants them to succeed; his flaw with this is that his philosophy seemed to work for him, but in reality it doesn’t work for anyone (including him). This connects and contrasts with two characters in the story, Josiah Bounderby, the owner of the local factory, who is successful through lying and poor treatment of others, as well as James Harthouse, who causes damage in people’s lives just out of boredom....   [tags: Hard Times, Charles Dickens, Gradgrind, Suffering]

Powerful Essays
1834 words (5.2 pages)

The Blue-collar Appeal of Hard Times Essay

- The Blue-collar Appeal of Hard Times    In Hard Times, Charles Dickens gives us a close-up look into what appears to be the ivory tower of the bourgeoisie of his day, yet these middle-class characters are viewed from a singular perspective, the perspective of those at the bottom of the social and economic system. Though Dickens’ characters tend to be well developed and presented with a thoroughly human quality, the stereotypical figure of arrogant and demanding Bounderby fails to accurately capture the motivations and attitudes of the typical successful businessman of the day and is an indication of the author’s political motives....   [tags: Dickens Hard Times Essays]

Powerful Essays
2568 words (7.3 pages)

Charles Dickens' Hard Times Essay

- Charles Dickens' Hard Times Charles Dickens’s novel Hard Times critiques the use of extreme utilitarianism as an acceptable means to governing a society in which citizens are able to lead happy, productive, flourishing lives. “Just the facts,”19th century English utilitarianism argued, are all one needs to flourish. Those answers that we can arrive at by way of mathematical, logical reasoning are all needed to live a full human life. Hard Times shows however that a “just the facts” philosophy creates a community inhospitable to the needs of one another, a society nearly void of human compassion, and one lacking in morality....   [tags: Charles Dickens Hard Times Essays]

Powerful Essays
1105 words (3.2 pages)

Hard Times Essays

- Hard Times In this paper I would like to discuss the possibly affects that this book might have had on the world, the time around Charles Dickens, and the fact that Charles Dickens paid close attention to the world around him. Charles Dickens, born Charles John Huffman Dickens, was born on Feb. 7 1812 in Portsmouth where his father was a clerk at the Naval Pay Office. Four years later his family moved to Chatham and then later moved to London. In 1824 Charles Dickens father went to Debtor's Prison....   [tags: Dickens Hard Times Essays]

Free Essays
894 words (2.6 pages)