The Fate of Tom Gradgrind Essay

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Tom Gradgrind, one of the children raised in the Gradgrind household in Charles Dickens’ book Hard Times, is one of the pivotal characters in the novel; both in terms of theme as well as plot development. The son of Thomas Gradgrind and beloved brother of Louisa Gradgrind, Tom embodies the unabashed self-interest that Dickens depicts throughout the novel as a problem within a society etched in the ideals of hard facts. Although for the majority of the novel Tom appears to be a self-centered opportunist, there are instances where he demonstrates appreciation – and even humane affections – towards his sister Louisa that foreshadow a possible reformation for the character. His feelings towards Louisa, combined with the fact that Dickens …show more content…
It is interesting to note that Tom never actively seeks to torment his sister Louisa; he does not even seem aware that he has caused her any real harm by persuading her to marry Bounderby. Although the reason behind the persuasion is purely selfish, it appears as though he does not know that he is actually making his sister suffer for his own again. This is apparent when Tom nonchalantly says to Mr. Harthouse, “Not that it was altogether so important to her as it was to me…because my liberty and comfort, and perhaps my getting on, depended on it; and she had no other lover, and staying at home was like staying in jail – especially when I was gone” (Dickens 166). While it is hardly arguable that Tom only thought of himself when convincing her to marry Bounderby, the fact that he believed that she had no strong feelings against the marriage shows that his intention was not to hurt her. In fact, it almost looks like he believes that he has done her good by getting her out of a place he compares to a “jail”. Further demonstrating Tom’s ignorance regarding Louisa’s feelings in the matter is the fact that he tells Mr. Harthouse that “[Louisa] has settled down to the life, and she don’t mind” (Dickens 167).
The possibility that Tom is generally more ignorant about the contemptibility of his beliefs and actions, rather than inherently ill-natured, can be seen even in some other instances. For example, when

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