Hard time topic, English homework help

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Discussing Hard Times. This discussion requires four posts using the options below.

Options for Posts

How to Post



Option 1: Topic Starter

Click “Create Thread” in discussion board.

Read the discussion prompts carefully and provide a response to one of the questions. Be sure your response answers the entire prompt, in detail, and be sure that you have proofread carefully. Provide textual support.

You can submit one topic starter per discussion.

Option 2: Challenge

Read a classmate’s post, and click “Reply.”

Respectfully challenge a classmate’s response. Explain your disagreement in detail and provide textual support.


Option 3: Agree and Add New

Read a classmate’s post, and click “Reply.”

Agree with a classmate’s post. Explain why, in detail, and add new information or evidence. Provide textual support.


  • Do not plagiarize. Use only your own words and ideas to analyze the texts. The only sources you should use are the works of literature themselves.
  • Use MLA format for citations.
  • Proofread your posts.
  • You will be posting 4 times. You must complete an Option 1 for two different prompts (each a separate post) AND respond to a classmate for two different prompts. Your second and third posts will respond to a classmate’s post using Options 2 and/or 3. You must write substantive response posts. This means you have to do more than say you agree, disagree, or compliment what your classmate has said.
  • Be sure to specify which prompt you’re responding to.
  • Review the grading rubric that will be used.

Discussion Topics for Hard Times:

**For this discussion you must post an Option 1 for 2 different prompts AND respond to a classmate’s post for 2 different prompts. You will post a minimum of 4 times.

1. Hard Times defends imagination and fancy (which, for Dickens, seems to include dancing, plays, circuses and fairytales, as well as pictures, literature, and music) against abuse by Utilitarians and propagandists. Provide an example from the story that illustrates the Utilitarian argument against “fancy” and then discuss how the novel functions as an argument against this point of view and why this is significant.

2. Thomas Gradgrind in Hard Times is initially cantankerous, and a socially alienated figure absorbed by his obsession with “the facts.” Gradually over the course of the story he changes his attitude and reforms his view. What factors are responsible for changing his outlook on life? And why is this significant?

3. The influence of the female characters on the moral life of Coketown society is generally beneficial, especially in terms of the effect of Rachel and Sissy on the principal characters. However, certain female characters–Mrs. Blackpool and Mrs. Sparsit–have a decidedly negative influence on the action of the story. What social and economic roles do women play in Hard Times? What do you think Dickens sees as “appropriate” and “inappropriate” roles for women? Why are certain women in the story punished and others rewarded?

4. The cast of Dickens’s Hard Times is largely working- and middle-class–the notable exceptions being the aristocrats James Harthouse and Mrs. Sparsit. Compare these two characters, and how Dickens uses them in the novel. What aspects of the British aristocracy in the nineteenth century do they exemplify? What have they in common? In what ways do they differ significantly? How, apparently, does Dickens use them to attack the aristocracy?

5. One of the more obvious patterns in the book is the effect of parents upon their children, a pattern that involves Tom, Louisa, Sissy, Thomas Gradgrind, Mrs. Gradgrind, Mrs. Peggler, and JosiahBounderby. What theme about child-rearing emerges from a study of these relationships? Which relationships may we regard as “successful,” and why? Select one parent/child relationship to illustrate your analysis.

6. Coketown, named after the coking coal used in the blast furnaces of its steel mills, is not a mere backdrop to the action of the novel, but an abiding presence, a pervasive atmosphere, and a controlling context. With reference to several specific passages that describe the town’s physical makeup and atmosphere, discuss the uses to which Dickens puts Coketown in the novel.

7. The names of the characters in the story are often suggestive of their natures. Select two characters and discuss the significance of their names in relation to their character development, plot, and theme.

8. In what ways does Bounderby exemplify the worst aspects of the factory-owning class? What do you think Dickens was trying to accomplish with this character?

9. George Bernard Shaw argues that Dickens deliberately wrote Hard Times to make his middle class readers feel “uncomfortable.” Locate the sources of this discomfort, and explain how it serves Dickens’s thematic intentions in the novel.

10. To what extent does the title of the novel, Hard Times For These Times, be applied to three of the novel’s principal characters? Consider the social, educational, monetary, and personal implications of the phrase “hard times.”

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