• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Hard Times - a look at Victorian education and the first part of the novel.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The education system in the 19th century was one of the more prominent floors in society. Trainee teachers usually began work around 14 years of age, predictably resulting in poor quality teaching. Subjects and topics were drilled repeatedly until set deep into the children's memories. Numbers of children to a class were incredibly high, meaning there was a huge lack min teacher - pupil relationship. If you happened to be particularly bright then you were likely to be dragged behind whereas if you were unfortunately slow, then you would be left behind with no special help or encouragement. Authorities were very domineering; everybody was expected to be able to follow the system, personal differences were not taken into account in any way productive. Corporal punishment is another feature commonly used by Victorian teachers; children were often beaten because of mistakes, and as you can imagine, violence from teachers was a frequent event mainly due to the narrow minded peremptory conditions. Evidently, the consequences of such an education produced uniformity to such a degree that linked each child into the system. The sense of depersonalisation that consumed the tender young imaginations, so vivid and active - the impersonal existence that dissolved away any trace of flourishing enthusiasm and discarded the dregs; deadpan, stunted adults. ...read more.

Middle

The massive contrast between Sissy and Bitzer's character continues right through to the way they look and carry themselves. Sissy blushes and curtseys when Gradgrind draws attention to her showing that she is emotionally conscious and aware of her situation, whereas Bitzer has no other notable reaction other than the 'correct' answer to Gradgrind's question. Bitzer's appearance is the complete opposite of Sissy: 'so light eyed and light haired that the self same rays appeared to draw out of him what little colour he ever possessed.' Bitzer's seeming deficiency in colour strongly suggests that being part of the education system has drawn out of him the fullness of being a child. The way he reacted to Gradgrind's attention was the way Gradgrind would have every child react - but Sissy didn't. I think Gradgrind has every intention of converting Sissy and by humiliating her I expect other children in the class would be coaxed into doing things his way. The government officer is reasonably similar to Gradgrind in several respects; he too believes that anything other than facts must be wrong - whether this is a statement, a thought or even an object: 'what you don't see in fact, you are not to have anywhere'. He makes it quite clear that fact is taste, and that one must 'never fancy'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although the little Gradgrinds are said to have everything, the reader can clearly see that this is only materialistically speaking; they still have the desire the have fun, and to have fancies. Unfortunately this is completely contradictory to the way in which Gradgrind has brought them up. Education has progressed to such an extent over the past century; and by reading this extract I realise just how grateful I am that I'm being educated in the way of the 21st century. The lack of creativity in Victorian education absolutely horrifies me (probably due to my love of expressive arts), and I think that there is no way that the humiliation and dehumanisation could have had any positive affect on the children. There was no stimulation or variations of syllabus for different levels of academic intelligence and I think that the introduction of these things have had a positive and productive outcome. I am curious to read on having reached this point, especially to look into how the young Gradgrinds turn out. I'd also like to see how Sissy is affected by the system - if she is at all. One of the things that really makes me want to read on, is the introduction of several new characters fairly early in the story; the way they are linked to each other and how they differ as individuals seems to entice my imagination - I want to know what's going to happen next. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Hard Times section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Hard Times essays

  1. By the end of Book 1, Dickens's criticism of Gradgrind's utilitarian thinking is apparent. ...

    Mr Gradgrind was extremely discomforted by this unexpected question. 'Well, my child...I - really - cannot..." He speaks with a stutter and does cannot respond. However, when he is able to incorporate facts into his answer, he is again at ease and will go on talking for long periods of

  2. "In Hard Times Dickens presents a convincing analysis of the social problems that have ...

    We can see from this extract that this lifetime spent indoors has had a serious effect on Bitzer's physique. Sissy on the other hand, is a picture of health as a result of being allowed to indulge in imagination as a child.

  1. How does Dickens present his negative views on education in Victorian society?

    Thomas Gradgrind, a Victorian teacher, one which was the complete opposite of Charles Dickens' views on education, and Dickens expresses this in the name Gradgrind. It can be interpreted as GRADually GRINDing, away at the children of the school, teaching them nothing but facts with very little or indeed no time for fancy.

  2. 'What are the reasons which Dickens gives for the hard times described in the ...

    On top of all this she helps the whole of the Gradgrind family; she is always there for those who need her. She also helps the younger Gradgrind's as she plays a major part in Mr Gradgrind's change. They will benefit from Mr Gradgrind's new more heart orientated attitude.

  1. Hard Times - explore several issues from Dickenss point of view on Victorian Society, ...

    Dickens shows us that Mr Gandgrind is a bit selfish, demanding and aggressive. He only looks at one point and believes he is always right and other people are wrong, "with a rule and a pair of scales, ready to weigh and measure any parcel of human nature and tell you exactly what it comes to."

  2. Key Question: How does Charles Dickens show his dislike of the education system in ...

    Similarly, in the first chapter, the anonymity of the Speaker and children arouses the reader's curiosity but it also helps Dickens to focus on the describing the appearance of the speaker, making his dislike clear through the description of the characters.

  1. Hard Times - Would you agree, from your reading of the novel so far ...

    Stephen sees his life as a kind of hell. In comparison to Stephen Blackpool, Sissy Jupe is an important character because she is 'good' but does not seem perfect. She somehow has a real depth of character which makes her believable, and we admire her for this.

  2. 'How does Dickens present education in particular Gradgrind's philosophy of education in Hard Times?

    The description of the school has been emphasised to reveal a dull and boring place. 'Imperial gallons of facts poured onto them until they were full to the brim' Dickens is making the reader feel sympathy for students enrolled in this school.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work