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'Hard Times' by Charles Dickens - Explore how Dickens establishes the characters of Gradgrind and Bounderby in the opening five chapters

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Introduction

'Hard Times' by Charles Dickens Explore how Dickens establishes the characters of Gradgrind and Bounderby in the opening five chapters of 'Hard Times' and how he influences the reader opinion of them. The purpose of this assignment is to consider what the author of 'Hard Times'; Charles Dickens in actuality thinks of the two characters Mr Thomas Gradgrind and Mr Josiah Bounderby in the opening five chapters of the novel. Furthermore I am trying to explore how Dickens tries to influence our view on the two characters on our first impression. In the opening chapter, 'The one thing needful', we start to discover Mr Gradgrinds harsh and unpleasant personality. On the first line Gradgrind, who we don't identify at this stage of the book, says, "Now, what I want is, Facts, Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts, Facts alone.... ..... root out everything else." This implies to us that Gradgrind doesn't want his pupils to have a single element of enjoyment inside them, and suggest that the children will be sorrowful rather than in high spirits whilst being educated. Dickens also starts to bring an element of gloom into the book for the reason that on the second chapter he starts describing the classroom as prison ...read more.

Middle

In chapter three, 'A Loophole' we finally get an insight into Thomas Gradgrind's home-life where we are first introduced to his family of five children all models of Mr Gradgrind. We also find out that his house is called Stone Lodge, which was situated one or two miles from a town formerly known as Coketown. We are told that his children are starved of imagination and were bought up on facts and instead of having drawers and cabinets full of the enjoyable fixations children boast, the Gradgrind children have cabinets full of various departments of science. When we finally get to see Louisa and Tom, Mr Gradgrinds Children they are at a circus, since Gradgrind had evidently objected to the principle of fun in the opening chapters in the book, we are drawn into the story when we want to identify how Gradgrind will respond towards his own children who are in a circus. Then when we hear Louisa Gradgrind talk about why she and young Tom Gradgrind came, She said, "Wanted to see what it was like." The way she speaks this is almost robotic just like Bitzer from the school. ...read more.

Conclusion

At of this stage in the book makes us wonder if Gradgrind is really as harsh as he looks like he is or he is going to use Sissy as a servant to help look after Mrs Gradgind and the house. The writer also turns us against Bounderby because he won't help give an orphan a further opportunity in life and education. Continuing in this chapter we also begin to realise the affections Josiah Bounderby has for Louisa. Even though he admires Tom as he more than admires Louisa, Later on in the novel Bounderby goes on to marry Louisa. So when Bounderby kisses Louisa and then goes off, she grabs a cloth to rub her cheek where Bounderby kissed her, and Tom describes her rubbing her cheek so firmly that she'll 'rub a hole in her face.' And she replies by saying 'you may cut the piece out with your penknife...', This makes us think that Louisa doesn't appreciate Josiah's affections. Finally my assessment shows Gradgrind's and Bounderby's personalities are based on facts, but through the story Gradgrind was becoming a better character whilst Bounderby was still depraved. And how he had affections for Louisa and then wanted to marry her later on in the novel shows that he is determined to get what he wants, without the opinion of others. ...read more.

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