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Charles Dickens - A disscussion on "HardTimes".

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Introduction

Hard Times I think that Charles Dickens wrote Hard Times in 1854 for mainly social reasons. At that time there was a lot of class difference as the higher class was extremely rich and the working class was extremely poor. The magazine that his book was published in was aimed at the upper class and I think Dickens wrote his book for them as they were the people who had the power to change the social system at that time. I also think that Dickens wrote the novel partly because of his personal experiences, as he had a hard upbringing. The plot of the book features around a man called Mr.Gradgrind and how he believes children should be educated. He is a particularly serious character and I think that in the first chapter of the book, the readers are supposed to dislike him because of how he argues his points. For instance, he says things like, "Now what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life," which make him sound extremely dictatorial. Dickens has also emphasised Mr.Gradgrind's point by putting a capital letter at the beginning of the words "fact" suggesting that that is his key focus. On the other hand people may argue that, as a benefactor for the local school he has a right to voice his opinions in this way, so that he can have some say in what goes on there. It is clear by what he says that he dislikes anything fanciful and believes that the school children should only be involved with things that are intellectual. ...read more.

Middle

I have been tired a long time," which obviously show that it is not having a good effect on the mental state of the children. I think when Louisa says things like this, it is as if Dickens himself is saying the words and voicing his opinions through the characters in the book. This gives the readers a good idea of what he thought about Mr.Gradgrind and his system, similarly to what he thought of the social system at that time. It is clear to the readers in the beginning of the fourth chapter that Mr.Gradgrind has no perception of emotion as Dickens says, "Mr.Bounderby was as near being Mr.Gradgrind's bosom friend as a man perfectly devoid of sentiment can approach that spiritual relationship towards another man perfectly devoid of sentiment," which also proves that although Mr.Gradgrind comes across as unpleasant, it is only because he does not have sentimental feelings. This statement also introduces another character, similar in personality to Mr.Gradgrind: Mr.Bounderby. His name is very satirical in that a bounder is the name given to an unscrupulous man who will do anything to get his own way. I think this is a way that Dickens shows he is against Mr.Bounderby and his thoughts and opinions, and him being a friend of Mr.Gradgrind shows that Dickens also disagrees with him. Although their personalities seem to match, their descriptions are somewhat different in that Mr.Gradgrind is seen to be a square looking man and Mr.Bounderby seems to be quite round. I can tell this as in the text there are phrases such as, "a great puffed head" and, "inflated like a balloon." ...read more.

Conclusion

These are all very powerful words and I think that it is when Louisa has made all her points that the readers see Mr.Gradgrind for what he really is: not a man who wishes to crush the happiness of anyone he comes into contact with, but a father who loves his children and only has their best interests at heart, regardless of how misguided his ideas on upbringing are. I can tell this because he says things like, "my poor child," and, "I never knew you were unhappy, my child." The plot outcomes really bring Dickens' points of view out into the open as he has shown how the characters that were oppressed by Mr.Gradgrind's system have been destroyed and how the people who stayed true to themselves have succeeded. For instance, Louisa had become the sorry, wretched woman who broke down in front of her father, and Tom has resorted to stealing and deceit. Also Bitzer, who has been brought up alongside Mr.Gradgrind's system has become an unemotional man of facts and figures, who doesn't care for anyone's feelings. Sissy on the other hand who had remained kind and spirited for the whole of the story, and who was raised by the circus, becomes a very carefree and happy woman. Mr.Gradgrind when shown the error of his ways becomes a much more tolerable man and I think the readers respect him for making a change. I think this is how Dickens tries to express the fact that a change in society must be made, and if it were the person who was responsible for the change would be greatly respected and honoured. ...read more.

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