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The human mind responds the most effectively to images - be they figurative or physical. The truth is that, when an individual has an image painted in his head, his level of comprehension is drastically improved. Images can be interpreted in numerous ways whether by film, picture or, as in the case of the images portrayed in Hard Times, in printed text. Although no actual physical image is there, there is a powerful image present nonetheless.
The most powerful of these images, employed by Charles Dickens in the novel Hard Times, is the city of Coketown, observed from a hill, through the smog that surrounds it. No matter what is occurring in the story, the characters are always amidst a sombre tone because it is set in Coketown. This reinforces the mood that Dickens adopts throughout the novel. What is created here is a city where dreams go to die.