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Examine how Dickens presents his concerns in the opening chapters of Hard Times.

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Introduction

Examine how Dickens presents his concerns in the opening chapters of Hard Times. Hard Times the novel wrote by Charles Dickens first published in 1854. The book is a political novel, used to portray the distressed situation in Victorian times. It highlighted the education, industrial revolution and the conflict between the social classes. Unlike other such writings at the time, the novel was unusual in that it is not set in London. However the fictitious Victorian industrial town of Coketown is often claimed to be based on Preston. Dickens begins the satire, humour and ignominy towards the educational system in Hard Times by introducing an insulting, power obsessed, factual teacher Mr Gradgrind. He expresses his concerns and feelings through Mr Gradgrind. First of all he starts by describing Mr Gradgrind's teaching methods, 'Now, what I want is facts' he only teaches facts and expects the pupils to learn and answer facts. 'Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts'. Mr Gradgrind doesn't want to any of the children to be taught opinions as he doesn't want any of them having opinions whilst working in the factories when they leave school. ...read more.

Middle

Further on in the novel he introduces another character, a pupil, Sissy Jupe. Mr Gradgrind introduces Sissy by calling her 'Girl number twenty '. Dickens shows that the pupils are treated like they are prisoners. 'Sissy Jupe, sir explained number twenty, blushing, standing up and curtseying'. Mr Gradgrind expects to be treated like royalty and considering that Sissy blushes shows that the children are in an unfriendly environment and under pressure from Mr Gradgrind. 'Sissy is not a name,' said Mr Gradgrind, 'Don't call yourself Sissy, call yourself Ceilla'. Mr Gradgrind renames her, because the name Sissy Jupe replicates the Patron Saint of creative art, and he doesn't like that as he only wants to teach facts. Dickens continues the sarcasm through Mr Gradgrind. 'He doctors sick horses', 'Very well then, he is a veterinary surgeon, a farrier, and horsebreaker'. Mr Gradgrind takes Sissy's opinion and sarcastically changes it into real jobs. 'Girl number twenty unable to define a horse!' Mr Gradgrind pressures Sissy into describing a horse, knowing that she is not capable to describe a factual definition of a horse. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dickens describes Bitzer as the same as he describes the room. 'If he were cut, he would bleed white'. Again Dickens uses the same colour to describe both the room and Bitzer, white. Dickens shows that the room and Bitzer are restricted of colour. Dickens then gives Bitzer's definition of a horse, it contains no opinions just facts. This suggests that Bitzer has been taught a factual definition of a horse, and just repeated it. 'She curtseyed again, and would of blushed deeper', 'Bitzer, after rapidly blinking' Dickens implies that the children are constantly under pressure. 'they looked like the antennae of busy insects' He uses a simile to show that they are nervous. Dickens humorously and sarcastically names the main forceful characters, 'Mr Gradgrind' and 'Mr M'Choakumchild' He reflects the names on how the pupils were taught in the educational environment at the time of the novel. The name Mr Gradgrind comes from the teacher grinding the children down with facts. Further on another forceful character Mr M'Choakumchild is introduced to the novel. Again his name is based on the teaching methods, choking the children with facts. 'If he had only learnt a little less how unfinitley better he might of taught much more' ?? ?? ?? ?? Matthew Maher Page 1 of 4 ...read more.

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