Hard Times is a novel by Charles Dickens that was published in late 1854 (as Hard Times for These Times) after having first appeared serialized in 20 weekly installments in Dickens’s publication Household Words between April and August 1854. Unusually short for a Dickens novel, Hard Times is set in a fictional medium-sized smoke-filled English mill-town called Coketown. As the title suggests, it is a somewhat bleak novel, focusing on the plight of the increasingly dehumanized factory workers as their lives are contrasted with those of the wealthy.


See a complete list of the characters in Hard Times and in-depth analyses of Thomas Gradgrind, Louisa Gradgrind, Josiah Bounderby, and Stephen Blackpool.

Literary Devices

Here's where you will find analysis of the major themes to motifs, symbols in Hard Times. as well as a listing of its point of view, tone, and other literary devices.


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Deeper Study

Increase your knowledge of Hard Times by reading background information about Charles Dickens and his novel as well as mini essays about the characters of Mrs. Sparsit and Bounderby.