Take a passage from Hard Times and explain why and how this paragraph is important to the key themes of the novel.
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Hard Times By Charles Dickens is a novel, which expresses the harsh and insensitive theme of utilitarianism in its purest form. Utilitarianism is the thought of whether something or someone is useful to society and whether they benefit to the growth and development of humanity. Within the Chapter 2, this utilitarianism society is explicitly exposed through the characters of Mr. Gradgrind, Sissy Jupe and Bitzer.
‘Bitzer,’ said Thomas Gradgrind. ‘Your definition of a horse.’
‘Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.’ Thus (and much more) Bitzer.
‘Now girl number twenty,’ said Mr. Gradgrind. ‘You know what a horse is.’
This scene occurs within a classroom where Sissy fails to provide a distinctive and exact definition of a horse and is totally embarrassed because of it. The theme of utilitarianism comes in to play, as the story is based around a world of exact values and precision, nothing less. Sissy fails to provide a ‘use’ to society in the eyes of Mr. Gradgrind thus, meaning she doesn’t belong in this society. This paragraph is an important aspect to the novel, as it reveals to the reader that being a utilitarian society does not allow the growth of human nature and fails to allow the humane side of people to flourish.
The “subtle essences of humanity” which are free will, vulnerability and emotion are diminished in this world, but are sought through the character of Sissy Jupe. Sissy being from the circus brings forth a new dimension to the monotonous society, this being imagination. Imagination doesn’t exist is Mr. Gradgrinds world and her creativeness frustrates him immensely.
Overall, the theme of utilitarianism within this paragraph is key to the novels message as it allows for audiences to understand the importance and demand for human nature.