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Hard Times By Dickens Essay

1264 words - 6 pages

Julie-Anne Blackie

Explore the ways in which Dickens' attitudes to education are presented in the opening two chapters of Hard Times.

Dickens was born in 1812 and was a popular author with the Victorian audience and was a great observer of society. 'Hard Times was written in 1845 and was published in 'Household weekly'. Dickens experienced hardship as a child as he was sent to work in a blacking factory at the age of twelve because his family was sent to Debtor's prison. Dickens retained a deep interest in and ...view middle of the document...

The speaker is described as ‘square’ which characterises him as a man who has no real flexibility in his manner and his appearances. His "dry, inflexible mouth" creates humour as it comes across that he has no expression in his teaching and is a very dull character. This shows the teaching standard at that time was very minimal like their facial expressions. The repetition of the word 'facts' reflects the effect of the Industrial Revolution which created machines which is reflected into the educational system. The neck cloth is significant as it represents strangulation which depicts the torture the children have to go through every day. It also shows that objects also felt like the education system was terrifying for children. Dickens uses the negative adjective ‘dark caves’ to depict the speaker is not very pleasant to look at and isn’t positive about his teaching.

The classroom is described as a 'plain, bare, and monotonous’. These adjectives show how the classroom is a mundane environment which lacks character and individuality. Using the metaphor ‘vault of a schoolroom’, Dickens shows us how the schoolroom is almost like prison which also has no character and is mundane and suppressed leaving the children having no sense of imagination .Depersonalisation and dehumanisations caused by the excesses of the Industrial Revolution permeate the opening chapter of 'Hard Times'. Dickens metaphorically names the children 'little vessels' which strips away their identity and individuality. This raises sympathy for the children as they are victims of a cruel, hard educational system. But this is the harsh reality of the life the children had to live in 1845.

The title of the second chapter 'Murdering the Innocents' is reference to a biblical story. Herod ordered new born baby boys to be killed as they could ruin his reign as King. Dickens uses the name ‘Gradgrind’ to depict how he grinds the children down leaving the children’s imagination no existence and he crams their heads full of facts which represents a mechanical process in which he teaches the children. Mr. Gradgrind has certain methods of teaching as he is self-assured and has great belief in his own doctrine. He believes no child should have an imagination, no creativity and ‘no fancy’. He wants children to be submissive and he only wants to churn out robotic workers which relates to the Industrial Revolution. Gradgrind addresses the children by numbers because there is so many children they are number e.g. "girl number 20". This has a negative connotation as they don’t think children should get addressed with proper names and has no individual identity; this leaves room for him to fill their heads with facts. Dickens also uses the negative simile ‘he seemed a kind of cannon...

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