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GCSE: Hard Times

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  1. How does Dickens present his attitudes to education in the opening chapters of hard times?

    This resulted in Dickens developing a bitter resentment towards his mother which most likely influenced the many spiteful female characters portrayed in his novels. The character of Nancy from his novel "Oliver Twist" for example, could be seen as Dickens view of an ideal maternal female. His schooling was once again interrupted and ultimately ended when Dickens was forced to return to work again when he was just fifteen years old. He became a clerk in a law firm then a shorthand reporter in the courts, and finally a parliamentary and newspaper reporter which is how he began his storytelling.

    • Word count: 3821
  2. Look carefully at the opening chapters of Hard Times and explore Dickens attitude towards education and how this refers his concern for society.

    Dickens repeats the word 'Facts' throughout the opening paragraph. He has done this to get the idea across to the Victorian reader. The idea that facts are all that is needed, and all Gradgrind is dependent on. This relates to Rationalism and how Dickens presents it to the reader in a sceptical way. He is putting the point across that children were taught this way in the Victorian period, proving his concern on how education was developing. Continuing in chapter 1, Dickens describes the classroom as "plain, bare, monotonous vault". This implies the classroom is colour-less, empty and lacks characteristics.

    • Word count: 3538
  3. By the end of Book 1, Dickens's criticism of Gradgrind's utilitarian thinking is apparent. Taking the character of either Sissy or Louisa, show how Dickens achieves this.

    This makes it seem rather ironic when Gradgrind turns up at the circus, which he sees as a "clashing and banging band attached to the horse-riding establishment", and walks past "either brushing the noisy insects from his thoughts, or consigning them to the House of Correction," to find his own model children, Louisa and Tom who are watching the Tyrolean flower-act through a hole in the wall. The introduction of Louisa to the chapter confronts Gradgrind straight away. He sees the circus as a place for people with a much lower social context than himself and his family, "to think of these vagabonds," and evidently thinks his children would never be seen there.

    • Word count: 4148
  4. analysis of hard time by charles dickens

    Dickens means to say that there is no true sowing taking place in the "vault of a schoolroom." Against the archetype of youth (spring, sowing, fertility), the older men are "square;" eyes are described as having "found commodious cellarage in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall." Dickens' hyperbole makes architecture out of the physical description of The Speaker (who seems rather villain-like). Dickens wants to demonstrate that the idea of the child's mind as a "vessel" that is "ready to have imperial gallons of facts poured"�this creates adults whose brains are described as mere "cellarage"�space for facts.

    • Word count: 5446
  5. Y10 English Literature Coursework

    This perfectly describes this situation with the system and Gradgrind. He reaps what he's sown, which is his family being torn apart at the end of the novel. We learn that this system is a failing one. It is based mainly on utilitarianism and all they do is force facts onto the children. The aim of the system is to create children who are like models or robots. Mr Thomas Gradgrind is a businessman who has lived by and supports utilitarianism in teaching. He owns a school which his daughter Louisa and son Thomas attend.

    • Word count: 3982
  6. 'What are the reasons which Dickens gives for the hard times described in the novel?'

    Almost as soon as they could run alone, they had been made to run to the lecture-room'. He recognises that his education system was wrong and Dickens makes us feel sorry for him. When Tom robs the bank, we start to see emotion expressed by Mr Gradgrind which shows us how much he is changing. His old view was that emotion is not fact, and is not useful therefore it shouldn't be expressed, but we start to see emotion later in the novel. Tom is in hiding from the authorities in the circus. Mr Gradgrind helps Tom to escape the country even though it is a fact and the law that if you commit a crime you should be punished.

    • Word count: 4071
  7. Examine Dickens' presentation of the education system in 'Hard Times'.

    Many of the children were frightened at school. Dickens strongly disagreed with this system and thought the children didn't learn anything from it. There are three adults involved in the opening chapters of the novel within the classroom; Mr Gradgrind who is the local factory owner and funds the school, Mr M'Choakumchild, the teacher, and an unnamed gentleman; a government officer. Dickens presents all three characters as hard and 'square'. Mr Gradgrind becomes a caricature at the start of the novel. . "The speaker's square wall of a forehead.........the speaker's mouth which was wide, thin, and hard set."

    • Word count: 3719
  8. Hard Times - explore several issues from Dickenss point of view on Victorian Society, including education, marriage, industrialisation, the relationship between the middle class and the working class, and how Dickens uses different methods and techniqu

    He created this character because he is wanting us to react in a certain emotion and feeling. A good example of this is when Gradgrind talks to Louisa about the marriage proposal, "You have been well trained, you are not impulsive, you are not romantic, you are accustomed to view everything from the strong dispassionate ground of reason and calculation. From that ground alone, I know you will view and consider what I am going to communicate." This tells us how Gradgrind brings up Louisa and how hard life is for her.

    • Word count: 3142
  9. Compare and contrast the way in which particular aspects of education are presented in Charles Dickens' 'Hard Times' and Barry Hines' 'Kestrel for a Knave'.

    Dickens seems to reflect on the industrial revolution with dismay and disappointment. The novel was fuelled by what Dickens had witnessed first hand in Manchester, fifteen years prior to writing 'Hard Times'. The novel itself is comprised of three books: sowing, reaping and gathering. 'Book the First'; 'Sowing' offers particular ideas and opinions to the reader, rather like the sowing of multiple seeds. This book imitates an introduction that will be expanded upon during the remainder of the novel. The 'naming' of chapters in 'Hard Times' is significant as the titles themselves are relevant to the message Dickens' is attempting to convey.

    • Word count: 4495
  10. What does Dickens have to tell us about education in Hard Times and how is this communicated through character, plot and his choice of language?

    This is how Dickens implies that different people learn different ways and at different rates. For Gradgrind it could be argued that it was the right way for him as he was educated by his father the utilitarian way. He became a model pupil and owned a school. The reader knows that he was a model pupil as Dickens tells us "five young Gradgrinds ... were models everyone." And "They had been lectured at from their tenderest years." And in Gradgrind's eyes this had worked so "He intended every child to be a model".

    • Word count: 3385
  11. Comparing similarities in 'Hard Times' by Charles Dickens and 'The Star' by Alasdair Gray.

    In this book Locke conveyed his ideas about how our identity and personality come from our knowledge of facts. The opening two chapters introduce the main characters and set the scene. The first chapter is mainly the speaker telling the students of the school where it is set, what they are going to learn and what is needed in life 'fact'. In the second chapter we meet Sissy Jupe daughter of Signor Jupe, a member of the circus. We are also introduced to Mr M'choakumchild, Mr Grabgrind a retired hardware merchant, who owns the school and Bitzer a student in the school.

    • Word count: 3573
  12. The purpose of this essay is to describe the characters of Mr. Thomas Gradgrind (Senior) in Hard Times by Charles Dickens, and Mr. Brocklehurst in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bront.

    Due to this method of writing, we come to the same conclusions as Jane, i.e. we see Brocklehurst as a daunting, overpowering and intimidating man. During this first encounter with Brocklehurst, we discover his religious beliefs. He describes a five year old child who died and 'whose soul is now in heaven', and goes on to say that 'the same could not be said of you [Jane] were you called hence'. This harsh judgement comes not five minutes after he encounters Jane, and he has virtually no knowledge of her character. He also believes that the fact that Jane does not like the Psalms and calls them 'not interesting' proves she has a 'wicked heart...of stone'.

    • Word count: 3185
  13. Discuss the theme of education in ‘Hard Times’ and a ‘Kestrel for a Knave’.

    Cold hard facts, calculations and precision of everything were hammered in, producing uncharitable and 'hard' individuals, devoid of feelings or compassion. This theory was devised by the eighteenth century philosopher, Jeremy Bentham. He assumed that all human beings were motivated by nothing other than material values. The weaknesses are highly exposed as this philosophy is explored by Charles Dickens in 'Hard Times'. Dickens' view was influenced by many things, obviously what he saw going on around him, which was people turning into hard hearted machines, the effect of a utilitarian society.

    • Word count: 3402

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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