Author(s): Kate (EDT) Charles; Flint Dickens
Coketown is dominated by the figure of Mr Thomas Gradgrind, school headmaster and model of Utilitarian success. Feeding both his pupils and family with facts, he bans fancy and wonder from any young minds. As a consequence his obedient daughter Louisa marries the loveless businessman and 'bully of humanity' Mr Bounderby, and his son Tom rebels to become embroiled in gambling and robbery. And, as their fortunes cross with those of free-spirited circus girl Sissy Jupe and victimized weaver Stephen Blackpool, Gradgrind is eventually forced to recognize the value of the human heart in an age of materialism and machinery.
Charles Dickens (1812-70) was a political reporter and journalist before establishing his reputation as a novelist with PICKWICK PAPERS (1836-7). His novels captured and held the public imagination over a period of more than thirty years. Kate Flint is Professor of English at Rutgers University. Her published work includes The Victorians and the Visual Imagination (2000).