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A novel of social and moral themes, Hard Times is the archetypal Dickens novel, filled with family difficulties, estrangement, rotten values and unhappiness. Published in 1854, it is set in the imaginary Coketown, an industrial city inspired by Preston, and tells the story of the family of Thomas Gradgrind, a man obsessed with misguided 'Utilitarian' values that make him trust facts, statistics and practicality over emotion. Based on James Mill (the Utilitarian leader), Gradgrind raises his own children, Louisa and Tom, in ...

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