• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Basing your answer on a detailed discussion of two episodes from hard times - book the first sewing - discuss Thomas gradgrind's role and significance in the novel.

Extracts from this document...


BASING YOUR ANSWER ON A DETAILED DISCUSSION OF TWO EPISODES FROM HARD TIMES - BOOK THE FIRST SEWING - DISCUSS THOMAS GRADGRIND'S ROLE AND SIGNIFICANCE IN THE NOVEL "Hard Times" is a book written by Charles Dickens and is set in the fictional city of Coketown. In the book Dickens puts across his views about Victorian society through his characterisation of the individuals in the story. The two episodes I will discuss in this essay are, chapter one and chapter six when Gradgrind informs Louisa of a marriage proposal from Bounderby. I have chosen these two episodes to draw from when discussing Gradgind's nature and his portrayal in the novel as they show a progression in his character. In chapter one, Gradgrind, who is not yet named, is shown as a harsh, unattractive figure with a, "square forehead". His angular face with its', "cave" shaped eyes, square, "wall" of a forehead and, "a plantation of firs" for hair reflects the, "plain, bare, monotonous schoolroom" which stands before him. This shows him to be full of facts just as the schoolroom is. ...read more.


These contrasts are very clever as they show Gradgrind to be kinder than Bounderby, which has not been shown in the past, but also show that Gradgrind is not as kind as Sleary who, incidentally is full of imagination (another contrast with Gradgrind to show that being full of facts is unfavourable). The contrast between Gradgrind and Sleary is partially shown through tone of voice. Although husky and drink-sodden, Sleary speaks comprehensibly, far more so that Gradgrind or Bounderby. Sleary's speech impediment, "thquire", and circus lingo add charm and softness to his speeches, whereas, Gradgrind's matter-of-fact speeches, "He is gone away, and there is no present expectation of his return", present him in a somewhat insensitive light. However, although this disparity depicts Gradgrind as having an unsympathetic nature, his actions and his contrast with Bounderby gives us a more positive view of him. Gradgrind is shown to be different from Bounderby at this point as he wishes to take Sissy in, even though she is not full of facts and could influence his children with stories of her time at the circus, whilst Bounderby says to Gradgrind, "No. ...read more.


The reader can no longer imagine him as thinking of Sissy as a vessel as in chapter one. However, the reader also notices that Gradgrind hasn't made a total reform, far from it, and that he still believes tenaciously in facts. The two episodes also show a change in the way Gradgrind views his status. In chapter one it would be inconceivable that he would spend any time talking to, lower, circus people, let alone be thing about taking in a lowly circus child! I think that through the differences between Gradgrind's character in chapter one and in chapter six he is showing that through better communication and understanding the Victorian education system and industry could change for the better. In conclusion, I think that Dickens has used the characterisation of Gradgrind very cleverly. Even his name reflects his character. The, "Grad" or grade is because of his determination that his children should concentrate on factual matters alone, they are in danger of never fully developing into "normal" people, and the, "grind" and its concern with the different stages of our lives. His descriptions of Gradgrind all show links with the Victorian industry and education system in this skilful political novel. English Vicky Maberley LVI 22nd January 2003 page 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Hard Times section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Hard Times essays

  1. The purpose of this essay is to consider what role the circus folk play ...

    (Charles Dickens: pg41, Hard Times, 1854). Although Bounderby reaches this conclusion in an unbelieving way it Is as close to the truth that the reader will ever achieve, it is because Sissy's father loved her that he has left her in what he hoped to be the care of a

  2. How does Dickens present his attitudes to education in the opening chapters of hard ...

    They would be pictures". Dickens uses this to show how Gradgrind and the other teachers use a form of Romanticism to demonstrate to the children that it is a useless way of thinking. Gradgrind gets Sissy to imagine the flowers on a carpet being real, but Sissy points out that is only fantasy.

  1. By the end of Book 1, Dickens's criticism of Gradgrind's utilitarian thinking is apparent. ...

    The Gradgrind family are dysfunctional and unable to communicate in a normal way. Louisa is the only person who feels any sort of emotion and she is completely incapable of expressing them to any of her family, except for Tom. Louisa's relationship with Sissy is another way Dickens undermines Gradgrind.

  2. Examine Dickens' presentation of the education system in 'Hard Times'.

    Tom has also been damaged by Gradgrind he uses facts all through his life. "So many people are employed in situations of trust; so many people, out of so many will be dishonest." Tom uses a fact to pardon himself for robbing the bank where he worked.

  1. Y10 English Literature Coursework

    He has no sympathy or sensitivity which is how Dickens shows us the system is cold and harsh.

  2. Hard Times Essay

    This makes us ponder the question: did Charles Dickens believe that an education was to be void of all facts, or did he believe that fact mixed with fiction was the correct way to educate children? Dickens shows his opinions very clearly throughout the book.

  1. Look carefully at the opening chapters of Hard Times and explore Dickens attitude towards ...

    Victorians would have recognised this in the Victorian Period, and therefore understand Dickens feelings on rationalism. Dickens uses the title 'Murdering the Innocents' as he wants to expose rationalists to the reader in an unfavourable and sinister view. Dickens opens the second chapter with "THOMAS GRADGRIND".

  2. How does Dickens shape the reader's impressions of the Gradgrind education system in the ...

    Again the repetition of square emphasises his rigid and firm beliefs. He is set on his ways like the facts he believes in. Again Dickens refers to his posture by saying that his ''neck cloth seems to be trained to take him by the throat''; this is similar to a

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work