Hard Times: Book 1 Chapter 8 - Summary & Analysis

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Never Wonder


      Louisa and Thomas both are unhappy because of the restrictions Gradgrind is imposing upon them and the surrounding in which they are growing up. For example, Gradgrind has once objected Louisa to use of the expression, “I wonder” and urged her never to wonder. He is not in favor of giving way to sentiments and affections. He wants to teach only “facts” and reason. He has allowed only this formula: “By means of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division settle everything somehow, and never wonder”.

      Thomas says to Louisa that he is sick of life and he hates it. He continues to say that he will take his revenge when he goes to live with Bounderby because then he will be master of himself in roaming around, watching and hearing something. In this way, he will recompense what he has missed. Louisa says that she has been “wondering” about the life which Tom and she have been leading. Mrs. Gradgrind eventually overhears Louisa’s words that she has been” wondering and she retorts Louisa never to wonder.

Critical Analysis

      The unhealthy effect of Gradgrind’s philosophy of education is now gradually coming into light. Louisa and Thomas are not happy with their life because their emotion and imagination have regularly been suppressed. Even their mother rebukes them for wondering. Mrs. Gradgrind is the blend of comedy and pathos. Her feebleness and ill health makes her pathetic but her speech to Louisa, at the end of the novel, makes her comic.

      Again, Dickens has satirized the Coketown for population. He says that “the eighteen denominations incessantly scratched one another faces and pulled one another’s hair by way of agreeing on the steps to be taken for their improvement which they never did.....but all the bodies agreed that they were never to wonder.”

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