hard-timesIn keeping with the novel’s dystopian vision, Time is here likened to a factory (as well as having, for some unexplained reason, an occasional, masculine gender): ‘Time went on in Coketown like its own machinery:  so much material wrought up, so much fuel consumed, so many powers worn out, so much money made…. In some stages of his manufacture of the human fabric, the processes of Time are very rapid.  Young Thomas and Sissy … were effected in a year or two; while Mr. Gradgrind himself seemed stationary in his course, and underwent no alteration. Except one….’

As is hinted at in this last phrase, even within one person Time can seem to proceed at multiple rates, some too fast, some too slow. Ask yourself, Is it not true? But whether fast or slow, it is always unidirectional and its future is always unknown–predictive, statistical, perhaps, but not one hundred percent certain. Later, Louisa, nearly fully grown, ‘tried to discover what kind of woof Old Time, that greatest and longest-established Spinner of all, would weave from the threads he had already spun into a woman.  But his factory is a secret place, his work is noiseless, and his Hands are mutes.’

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