- Organized in three parts, titled 'Sowing' 'Reaping' and 'Garnering' this novel describes a dystopian English society and economy in the mid-1800s. Bad factory working conditions in fictional manufacturing Coketown provide the setting for this book about the mechanizing effect of industrialization. The prosperous characters in the novel are portrayed as morally corrupt. The opposition of fact and fancy is a major theme; the positive effects of fancy, or imagination, soften the harshness of facts alone. Main characters Gradgrind and Bounderby are focused on fact, treating people as emotionless objects.