Hard Times is Dickens's most political novel. Set in the industrial north of England, in the fictional Coketown, he examines the lives of working people, who are taught by the capitalists Gradgrind and Bounderby to think only of the facts of life and not to indulge in imagination. Gradgrind's own children have been educated thus, and as a result are dysfunctional and disconnected from their feelings. Only Sleary's travelling circus company seems to offer any hope of humanity in Coketown. Hard Times is a deeply moving story written in anger to strike a blow for the victims of the dehumanising processes of industry.
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