Books and Movies Reviews

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. Thefirst; 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-rounded
human beings through the educational process. One has to
wonder how different the story would be if Gradgrind did
not run the school. How can you give a utilitarian man such
as Gradgrind such power …