A STEP BEYOND
TERM PAPER IDEAS
- THE NOVEL
- What role did the Industrial Revolution play in the
writing of Hard Times?
- How does the weekly serial form affect the structure
of the novel?
- In what ways can Hard Times be considered a bitter
novel? A hopeful novel?
- How does the social criticism of the novel compare
with that of Bleak House? Of Little Dorrit?
- In Chapter 4 of Book the Second, the narrator comments,
"Private feeling must yield to the common cause." Explain
this in terms of the novel's events and relate it to a current situation.
- Compare and contrast Bounderby and Gradgrind.
- In what ways can Stephen be considered a martyr?
- Who is the main character of Hard Times? Defend your
- How are the various levels of society represented
by the characters?
- Comment on the significance of Louisa's remark to
her father, "You have been so careful of me that I never had a
- What role does Sissy Jupe play in the novel?
- Compare the characterization of Sleary and his troupe
with the Crummles acting company of Nicholas Nickleby.
- How is Gradgrind educated in the course of the novel?
- How does Mrs. Gradgrind function in the novel?
- Is Harthouse a round or a flat character? Explain.
- How are Sissy and Bitzer compared early in the novel?
Why? Is the comparison developed?
- How is the parent/child relationship handled in the
novel? Pay special attention to the Gradgrinds, the Jupes, and Bounderby
and Mrs. Pegler.
- Describe the effect Sissy Jupe has on the lives of
three of the major characters.
- In what ways is Mr. Jupe's presence felt throughout
the novel? How does he affect one of the story's chief morals?
- Chart the progress of Mrs. Sparsit's relationship
- Why is Bounderby called "the Bully of Humility"?
- In what ways is Stephen a realistic character? In
what ways is he not?
- Compare M'Choakumchild's school and its theory of
education to that of Wackford Squeers's in Nicholas Nickleby or to some
other novel which uses this topic.
- In what ways does Bitzer prove himself to be the prize
- How does Dickens use names to signify his characters'
- How does the presence of Mrs. Pegler add suspense
to the novel?
- Looking at Dickens's life, find out which of the characters
in Hard Times have autobiographical overtones.
- LITERARY TOPICS
- How is irony used in the death of Stephen Blackpool?
- Discuss the ways in which Coketown is seen metaphorically
as a jungle.
- How is coincidence used in the novel? Is it beneficial
or harmful to the realism of the book?
- How does Dickens use comedy in the novel? Cite at
least five examples.
- In what way does Christianity affect the tone of the
novel? What Christian symbols are used?
- In what ways is Hard Times a satire? Explain.
- How are colors used as symbols in the characters of
Sissy and Bitzer?
- Discuss the symbolism of the circus and how it relates
to the novel as a whole.
- Research the efforts to organize unions in the United
States in the early part of the twentieth century. How are they similar
to those described in Hard Times? How are they different?
- In what ways does the novel speak to us today? Are
any of the issues presented by Dickens still with us? Which ones?
[Hard Times Contents] [PinkMonkey.com]
© Copyright 1985 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
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