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During the Victorian Age, Britain implemented utilitarianism in an attempt to improve the affects that the Industrial Revolution had on the country and its people.
The conditions of life changed dramatically during this period; people moved en mass to the cities from the country for work. This caused major displacement and many people had a difficult time adjusting to their new circumstances. Familes (entire familes, children and parents) worked 24 hours per day for small wages, they lived in shanties which provided poor shelter, and illnesses ran rampant.
Hard Times also illustrates for the reader the problems of the children. They worked, but rather than working alongside their parents as they always had, they were now separated. The family unit began to disintegrate and children were abused by the system. All of these things are thrown light on, including the use of "formula education."