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Exploring some of the ways in which Dickens's Attitudes to Education are presented in the early Chapters of Hard Times

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Exploring some of the ways in which Dickens's Attitudes to Education are presented in the early Chapters of Hard Times In Charles Dickens's industrial novel 'Hard Times' written in 1854, we see various attitudes towards the topic of 'education' from several different characters in the early chapters of the novel. In this essay, I am going to explore Dickens's attitudes towards education, compared to those in the novel, and how they are presented in these chapters. In the first chapter, Dickens seems to give an 'over the top' description of Mr. Gradgrind, using repetative, monotonous, mimetic language, through which he shows us that Mr. Gradgrind's attitude towards education is purely based on facts. This can be seen at the beginning of the first chapter when Mr. Gradgrind says, "Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life... Stick to Facts, sir!" One can see facts are important to Mr. Gradgrind as the word 'Facts' has a capital letter most of the time, no matter where it is in a sentence. ...read more.


He can do virtually anything he wants to. If he wants to shut down a school then he will. Dickens portrays the inspector as a boxer with the use of metaphors. He describes him as, "...a professed pugilist; always in training, always with a system to force down the general throat like a bolus". He presents him as an "ugly customer", someone who's willing to take on anyone at anytime with confidence and determined to defeat them, just so he can be successful. He also writes, "he always fought All England". I think this means the inspector defeated his opponents by abiding to the national code of rules. He did not do anything that was wrong. He was so powerful that he could "knock the wind out of common sense"! He doesn't seem to like common sense much, as it is too fancy for him, as one can see in the conversation between the inspector and Sissy. The inspector asks the class, "Would you paper a room with representations of horses?" ...read more.


One can see that Sissy likes 'fancy' whereas the inspector frowns upon the idea and likes to stick to facts. There is a lot of friction between the two topics and the inspector forces it into the children's brains that they shouldn't fancy! Mr. M'Choakumchild is again presented in a slightly different manner to that of the inspector. We are told more about his knowledge rather than his power and his appearances. Dickens writes, "He and some one hundred and forty other schoolmasters, had been lately turned at the same time, in the same factory..." Here, Dickens is describing Mr. M'Choakumchild as a mass produced object from a factory with all the necessary features (i.e. all of the subjects mentioned). Dickens is rather more implicit and feels that if Mr. M'Choakumchild had learnt a little less then he could have turned out as a better teacher than he is. I think that overall, Dickens is not satisfied with any of the teacher's approach and attitude towards education. He feels that education should involve common sense, and without common sense, education is just a bundle of facts, which are hammered into your head. ...read more.

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