Hard Times

Author Name: 
Dickens, Charles
Grades: 
9
10
11
12
Comments: 
General
(Page numbers refer to Penguin Classics Edition) This novel is set in nineteenth century industrial England. A factory worker is set up by a rich boy to be falsely accused of robbing a bank (to cover up his own crime). A father learns that his system of rational education (utilitarianism) is faulty when his logical daughter who marries for practical reasons is seduced by a family friend and she doesn’t know how to handle it (nothing actually happens, but the gradual, well planned out road to the seduction is detailed quite clearly). Detailed description of drunken mother who mistreats her young son- turns out to be a lie much later in the book(chapt 4 pg 60) Notes at the front of the book- author fell “passionately in love” with a girl. Later married someone else and seperated from her and “befriended” a young actress “who may have become his mistress”. Mentions of novels and authors. Brief mention that park admission was free except during hours of church service. A number of mentions that circus women were not “at all particular in respect of showing their legs”. A lot of smoking and drinking throughout the novel. notes at the back of the book- Book 1 Chapter 5- discusses laws to make people religious by force. Baptism was withheld from unwed mothers until she got a letter from her employer “testifying to her previous good character, her shame, and capacity for hard work”
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
A man’s wife becomes a drunkard who lives on the streets, but he is not allowed to divorce her, so he conducts a chaste love affair with another woman.Asks if there is a law that would punish him if he lived with her without marrying her (since he is not allowed to marry her)- there is such a law. A lot of minor negiah- kisses on the cheek, men kiss girl goodbye, woman lightly lays her hand on man’s arm, woman kisses man’s hand, when man is trying to seduce married women puts his arm around her and “embraces” her- she sits frozen.
Religion/Hashkafa
Many brief mentions of going to church service, church bells.Man dreams of having wedding in church.
Language
Man falls down a hole called “Hell shaft” Language- idiot, stupid, ass (pg 205book 2 chapt.7), damned (pg 212 book 2 chapt 8) for C-----’s sake (pg 290 book 3 chapt. 6). Book 1 Chapter 15- efforts were damned
School Resource: 
Teen: 
0
Rating: 
Classic