Hard Times cover

#1 - 01 - Book 1, Chapter 01, The One Thing Needful

Hard Times

Download 01 - Book 1, Chapter 01, The One Thing Needful audio
Download 02 - Book 1, Chapter 02, Murdering the Innocents audio
Download 03 - Book 1, Chapter 03, A Loophole audio
Download 04 - Book 1, Chapter 04, Mr. Bounderby audio
Download 05 - Book 1, Chapter 05, The Keynote audio
Download 06 - Book 1, Chapter 06, Sleary's Horsemanship audio
Download 07 - Book 1, Chapter 07, Mrs. Sparsit audio
Download 08 - Book 1, Chapter 08, Never Wonder audio
Download 09 - Book 1, Chapter 09, Sissy's Progress audio
Download 10 - Book 1, Chapter 10, Stephen Blackpool audio
Download 11 - Book 1, Chapter 11, No Way Out audio
Download 12 - Book 1, Chapter 12, The Old Woman audio
Download 13 - Book 1, Chapter 13, Rachael audio
Download 14 - Book 1, Chapter 14, The Great Manufacturer audio
Download 15 - Book 1, Chapter 15, Father and Daughter audio
Download 16 - Book 1, Chapter 16, Husband and Wife audio
Download 17 - Book 2, Chapter 01, Effects in the Bank audio
Download 18 - Book 2, Chapter 02, Mr. James Harthouse audio
Download 19 - Book 2, Chapter 03, The Whelp audio
Download 20 - Book 2, Chapter 04, Men and Brothers audio
Download 21 - Book 2, Chapter 05, Men and Masters audio
Download 22 - Book 2, Chapter 06, Fading Away audio
Download 23 - Book 2, Chapter 07, Gunpowder audio
Download 24 - Book 2, Chapter 08, Explosion audio
Download 25 - Book 2, Chapter 09, Hearing the Last of It audio
Download 26 - Book 2, Chapter 10, Mrs. Sparsit's Staircase audio
Download 27 - Book 2, Chapter 11, Lower and Lower audio
Download 28 - Book 2, Chapter 12, Down audio
Download 29 - Book 3, Chapter 01, Another Thing Needful audio
Download 30 - Book 3, Chapter 02, Very Ridiculous audio
Download 31 - Book 3, Chapter 03, Very Decided audio
Download 32 - Book 3, Chapter 04, Lost audio
Download 33 - Book 3, Chapter 05, Found audio
Download 34 - Book 3, Chapter 06, The Starlight audio
Download 35 - Book 3, Chapter 07, Whelp-Hunting audio
Download 36 - Book 3, Chapter 08, Philosophical audio
Download 37 - Book 3, Chapter 09, Final audio

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The shortest novel by far of Charles Dickens', Hard Times is also one of his most idea based works. In it, he launches a scathing attack on the prevailing fashion of believing in Utilitarianism, a philosophy that proposed the goal of society should be “the greatest good for the greatest number of people.” Dickens felt that such a philosophy saw people as mere statistics and not as individuals.

The novel was published in serial form in his magazine Household Words. It is also the only novel where London is not featured. Set mainly in the fictional industrial town of Coketown, the book is divided into three sections “Sowing,” “Reaping” and “Garnering.”

It tells the story of a wealthy, retired industrialist, Thomas Gradgrind. His two children are brought up according to strict Utilitarian principles and their teaching is completely devoid of imagination and compassion. When the elder Gradgrind takes in an orphan called Sissy, events are set to take a turn. The Gradgrind children are completely under their father's control. As they grow, the son becomes a dissolute wastrel, while the daughter is compelled to marry a man thirty years her senior. How the Gradgrinds resolve these issues and how they begin to understand the true value of human life makes up the rest of the story.

Filled with memorable characters, as are all Dickens' novels, Hard Times is also the writer's attempt to reveal the dark side of the Industrial Revolution. Dickens was also trying to show that morality and wealth do not necessarily coexist. The overwhelming obsession with scientific temper, the worship of facts, the practical and materialistic ethos that was pervading the country in the Victorian era at the cost of all that was imaginative, humane and spiritual are other things that the writer was deeply concerned with.

Hard Times besides being Dickens' shortest work, is devoid of a preface and illustrations unlike all his other books. As a social protest novel, Hard Times also reflects the rapidly changing nature of society in Victorian England. The rise of a newly rich class, arrogant in their power to purchase anything and everything, completely devoid of social graces and the right pedigree was a phenomenon that bewildered many of the older generation. The world was also undergoing great periods of political unrest. Europe was changing and so was America which was then in the grip of the Civl War. Set against this background, Hard Times is a vivid portrayal of the era.

Tinged with dark humour and satire, this is indeed a great read for young and old readers!

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