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GCSE: Hard Times

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  1. Key Question: How does Charles Dickens show his dislike of the education system in his novel Hard Times?

    In brief, the children were forced to learn facts by rote - the only principle that the Utilitarian masters considered of value. It was their belief that for children who were destined to live lives of misery in poverty, the only thing useful for them would be to become efficient workers. As a result, the children's education followed the same monotonous, formal and mechanical process like their work in the factories. In "Hard Times", Dickens criticises the educational system fiercely, and illustrates his dislike through a wide range of linguistic and other devices.

    • Word count: 2465
  2. Looking at 'Down', consider how Dickens presents the impact that Gradgrind's philosophy has had upon Louisa. What wider moral points is he trying to make?

    Gradgrind despises most as it falls into his category of "fancy". The narrator serves as the "moral authority"of the novel. By way of frequent interuptions giving a kind of opinion, the narrator shapes our interpretations of the novel, for example: "It is known, to the force of a single pound weight, what the engine will do; but not all the calculators of the National debt can tell me the capacity for good or evil, for love or hatred, for patriotism or discontent, for the decomposition of virtue into vice, or the reverse, at any single moment in the soul of one of these quiet servants, with the composed faces and the regulated actions."

    • Word count: 2894
  3. Dickens calls his novel Hard Times. How does Dickens communicate a sense of the hard times which the working classes experienced due to industrialisation and Victorian attitudes to education? In your answer you should consider how Dickens uses characteris

    In "Hard Times", Dickens expresses the difficulties experienced by the working class in showing their lack of individuality as a result of industrialisation. The workers are described as "equally like one another...who all went in and out at the same hours, with the same sound upon the same pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day was the same as yesterday." Dickens uses alliteration and repetition here - "same hours...same sound" - to express the dullness of the workers' tedious routines and emphasise their lack of individuality.

    • Word count: 2309
  4. The purpose of this essay is to consider what role the circus folk play within the structure of Hard Times

    The idea of the circus with its extended family and the multi job roles is a contradiction to the ideas of Coketown and Gradgrind, within Coketown all of the workers have singular job roles and job abilities, and they are not multi talented instead they know only one job. It becomes more and more apparent the role of the circus when the reader is faced with this knowledge that Coketown and Gradgrind are interested only in fact and that neither believes nor encourage emotion of any kind.

    • Word count: 2255
  5. How does Dickens shape the reader's impressions of the Gradgrind education system in the first three chapters of Hard Times

    Dickens presents us with the character Thomas Gradgrind in this novel. We are given a very vivid description of him and Dickens uses a number of devices to do this. His first device is the name 'Gradgrind'. If the name is split up you get 'Grad' and 'grind'. The 'Grad' part refers to a graduate of the fact system or a grade, evaluation or judgement. The 'grind' part refers to grinding teeth, a grinder. This process is associated with inanimate objects, the way in which the school dehumanises the children. The 'grind' part of the name is also related to how the children are being ground down to just stores of facts and they are being ground down losing all emotion.

    • Word count: 2619
  6. Explain how the theme of education is presented in Hard Times. What comments do you think Dickens might be making about his own times?

    Dickens also employs the outer appearance of Gradgrind to parallel the inner personality of Gradgrind, "Square coat, square shoulders and square legs". This seems to highlight Gradgrind's nature of unrelenting rigidity. Dickens also uses tricolons to really exaggerate the impression of this character being dull, boring and old fashioned. As a result, his educational ideas are seen to be dull and boring too. We get the overall impression from Dickens that he doesn't particularly like this factual style of education and the narrator's tone is mocking and ironic.

    • Word count: 2804
  7. Hard Times - a look at Victorian education and the first part of the novel.

    All the same, and all plugged into the same matrix. The novel Hard Times powerfully reflects Dickens' personal interest in the education system. He seems to have taken samples from particular features of education and amplified them to create a fictional scenario constructed from reality. The fundamentally dogmatic features of authority e.g. Thomas Gradgrind, Mr. Mchoakumchild etc, are uncompromising to differences of any kind: 'You mustn't tell us about the ring, here.' This is Gradgrind's response to Sissy Jupe, who tells him how her father 'belongs to the riding'.

    • Word count: 2321
  8. English/English Literature Coursework Joint Folder

    Dickens is keen to depict his Victorian contemporary world of Coketown in an essentially satirical context. It is emblemed with certain thematic issues including religion, the nature of employment and education, which follow course throughout the book. This surreal caricature of the Victorian landscape contrasts with Lodge's realistically styled piece. Lodge's passage, which holds a fictional veil over the names of "Rummidge and the Dark Country", is clearly intended to represent Birmingham and the Black Country. In Hard Times it can be expected that Dickens wanted to emphasize Coketown as the "worst about Industrial Britain". What purpose would be privileged to do this?

    • Word count: 2530
  9. Title: How does Dickens present the education system in Hard Times?

    At the end of the day, the education was worthless because most of the children died in the workhouse. Dickens used Hard Times to criticise the society for failing so many of its children. Dickens argues against a mode of factory style, grad-grinding production that exterminates the fun out of life. He believes that education should not be a thing of going through volumes of head-breaking questions and being put through an immense variety of paces. Hard Times not only suggests that fancy is as important as fact, but it continually calls into question the difference between fact and fancy.

    • Word count: 2339
  10. What techniques does Dickens use to show his views of the Victorian society, in particular, education and its effect on young people? What would be Dickens' view of education today?

    Thomas Gradgrind champions this system and has raised his children, Tom and Louisa (and their siblings) this way. His long-time friend, Bounderby, a factory owner, also appreciates the system. Louisa is a misled, miserable girl and Tom is an ambitious and unwholesome youth. When a circus performer's daughter, Sissy Jupe joins the Gradgrind School, she shakes things up a little by her interpretation of life other than of hard facts. Her father has outlasted his usefulness with the circus and he runs away, deserting her. Gradgrind takes pity on her and takes her in as one of his servants.

    • Word count: 2135
  11. Look carefully at the opening chapters of 'Hard Times' and explore some of the ways in which Dickens' attitudes to education are presented in this chapter.

    He gets these views across through his themes, his presentation and his use of language. By using these he attacks the government and industrialists specifically and effectively. Dickens presents the teachers and inspector in a negative light and reveals his ideas and opinions on education through his presentation of them. The first point at which he does this is through his presentation of Mr Gradgrind. Dickens presents Gradgrind as a strong, harsh person; everything about him is emphasised and he repeats this word too, he does this to illustrate his own point.

    • Word count: 2051
  12. Compare and Contrast the role of Character and Characterization in the novels 'Hard Times' and 'Love on the Dole'.

    There are three main characters in 'Hard Times' that display realistic qualities, moreover representing three different socio-economic positions; from lower class to upper class. Therefore, it is essential to witness the characters of 'Hard Times' as more than just caricatures for an allegorical novel; it is important that they are real, thinking, breathing, and feeling people, who are driven by impulse, desire and acceptance. In contrast, in 'Love on the Dole' Greenwood delves into the sub-conscious minds of his characters using techniques such as stream of consciousness; stream of consciousness that is present throughout the novel, as the reader appears to grow up with Harry or through the presentation of Larry as an outsider.

    • Word count: 2094
  13. Charles Dickens - A disscussion on "HardTimes".

    I think that Dickens puts across his views on how children should be educated by the way he describes Mr.Gradgrind in the first chapter. For instance he says, "the speaker's square wall of a forehead," and, "the speaker's mouth, which was wide, thin, and hard set," which help to show Dickens' opinion of Mr.Gradgrind and his ideas about facts. I think this description of Mr.Gradgrind is also written to describe his mind as well. This is because all of his features are described as being hard and square, just like his opinion on how children should be taught; clear and hard.

    • Word count: 2904
  14. Look carefully at the first four chapters of "Hard Times" by Charles Dickens and explore some of the ways in which Dickens's attitudes are presented.

    Firstly his first name "Thomas" was taken of that of Thomas the doubter in the bible. His surname "Gradgrind" suggests that he is not a particular pleasant person and that he grinds people down. In this case are his students of his school who fall victim to his teacher's monotonous teaching of the grinding of facts into their young minds. "The speaker, and the schoolmaster, and the third grown person present, all backed a little, and swept with their eyes the inclined plane of little vessels then and there arranged in order, ready to have imperial gallons of facts poured into them until they were full to the brim."

    • Word count: 2936
  15. Heightened Representations of Reality in Dickens' Hard Times.

    It is later revealed that Bounderby is, in fact, not a self-made man, further influencing the reader to dislike him. In this way, the novel becomes a harsher story in which the narrator and the author directly and bluntly depict the lives of people in an industrialized, utilitarian society. Coketown embodies a harsh, fact-oriented city where there is no room for joy or imagination. It is tainted by a utilitarian philosophy as well as factory smoke. Dickens condemns the utilitarian and when he describes any hope in the novel, it is only relating to characters who reverse their ways and return to their senses-Gradgrinds being the prime example.

    • Word count: 2191
  16. 'How does Dickens present education in particular Gradgrind's philosophy of education in Hard Times?

    'This is the principle on which I bring up my own children' This shows that Gradgrind not only teaches this to students but his family as well, we see how his system effects his family later in the novel. Also Gradgrind's children have a study instead of a playroom, and instruments instead of toys, this shows how Gradgrind is no more loving at home then when he is a teacher. Dickens explains how Gradgrind sincerely believes in his system of education, and has found no fault in it yet.

    • Word count: 2830
  17. Hard times: how does Dickens use the first four chapters of "Hard Times" to introduce the themes of the novel by Charles Dickens.

    "The speaker's obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square shoulders" By using imagery Dickens is trying to influence the reader to dislike Gradgrind. We get the impression that Gradgrind is a boring, colourless person who always has to have the last say in the matter. Dickens describes his mouth as "wide, thin and hard set" so the bigger his mouth the more facts he can teach. The language Dickens uses is trying to make us detest and despise Gradgrind and this is helped by the way he treats his pupils.

    • Word count: 2049
  18. How does Dickens contrast wealth and poverty in the opening book of Hard Times?

    The above quote is describing Coketown, which houses the poorest segment of society and is filled with noise, grime, and smoke. While the description of Coketown does not specify the horrors of the 'Hands' working conditions, it does create a general impression of filth and noise. "not all the calculators of the National Debt can tell me the capacity for good or evil, for love, for patriotism or discontent for the decomposition of virtue into vice, or the reverse, at any single moment in the soul of one of these its quiet servants."

    • Word count: 2330
  19. The book

    The poor quality of living was added to by the huge smoke clouds which hung over the cities. This "smog" made it hard to breathe and was so bad seeing things became harder. The book starts when Dickens introduces the characters; the first two chapters are short yet are scene-setters. Dickens explains that; Mr Gradgrind - a politician and schools owner, Mr McChoakumchild - a new teacher and Another man - we are not told who the man is or why he is present, are in a classroom full of children. Dickens describes Mr Gradgrind as being a square man and Mr McChoakumchild as a school teacher who was fresh for the factory which "makes teachers".

    • Word count: 2142
  20. What do you learn about the Education System though the book, “Hard Times” by Charles Dickens

    The children aren't being killed bodily; only the innocent part of them is being murdered, so that innocence and imagination never get in the way of their acceptance of the harsh realities of the dreary lives they are soon to face in the factory. This was the education style of the time. Firstly, we learn that the classroom is; "Plain, bare, monotonous vault," This description of the room gives us the impression that it is quite boring and intimidating for the children and you get the impression that it is never-changing.

    • Word count: 2061
  21. Childhood is an integral theme in both Hard Times and God of Small Things

    human condition, because their very fragility, without the adult illusion of control over life's fluidity, makes it obvious how vulnerable they, like their apparently less vulnerable elders, are to social, political and emotional phenomena that can devour their lives. While Dickens spreads the focus of the story over a larger range of characters than Roy, he still uses the children's emotions as a strong conveyer of the sentiment or moral of a scene and the story as a whole. A great example of this abuse of emotions is Louisa's continual sadness and confusion as she is bought up to act like a woman while still expressing the characteristics and mentality of a child or youth.

    • Word count: 2291
  22. Hard Times - A Practical Criticism

    Here he addresses the monotonous and repetitive life of the worker, which is reminiscent of a factory assembly line. Dickens here seems to be a firm believer of the notion that we are just all bit parts in the machine called life. He represents this through the fact that the workers will allow their work and their greed and will to progress to occupy their life to such an extent that it engulfs them. And destroys their very life turning it into a robotic nightmare, as they are too transfixed with a detached goal that they themselves become detached from life.

    • Word count: 2817

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?

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