Hard Times : Embodying the mind-numbing materialism of Victorian England is Professor Thomas Gradgrind, one of Dickens's most vivid characters. He opens the novel by arguing that boys and girls should be taught "nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life." Forbidding the development of imagination, Gradgrind is ultimately forced to confront the results of his philosophy--his own daughter's terrible unhappiness. Full of suspense, humor, and tenderness, Hard Times is a brilliant defense of art in an age of mechanism.