The world of Hard Times For These Times revolves around a small industrial town firmly in the grip of one businessman. Bounderby is owner of the local mill and Gradgrind, his employee, is the schoolmaster--together they define and enforce the town's moral character with an iron fist. Many of the characters--including Gradgrind eventually--try and fail to resist Bounderby's influence, to their own demise. Published in 1854, the novel revealed Dickens' sharpest views on capitalism and its questionable moral underpinnings and spurred significant critical debate among his contemporaries.
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