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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.

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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