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

Hard Times - Charles Dickens: 'Discuss the theme of education in Hard Times'

Extracts from this document...


Hard Times - Charles Dickens 'Discuss the theme of education in Hard Times' Charles Dickens was a great author of the 19th Century and his books are recognised and loved nation wide. Many people understand the meaning to his books, as they are not just plain fiction. In the novel Hard Times Dickens intensely criticises the British system of education and how it has evolved over the years: the 19th Century philosophy of 'Utilitarianism'. Dickens believed this system was a failure, as it changed children's minds and morals, and it is this novel that he attempts to show the horrors that this system has created. A principle was formed by Jeremy Bentham, the eighteenth century philosopher, calculating 'the greatest good for the greatest number'. This theory explained that self-interest was the primary motivating force behind all human conduct; people strived for pleasure and tried in vain to avoid pain. Bentham advocated a system of calculation known as 'moral arithmetic'. This was used whenever a decision had to be made about a particular choice of action, be it an individual deed or a law affecting million. The equation was a simple one: pleasure vs. pain. If all the factors fell in the direction of pleasure for the greatest number then the appropriate course of action was adopted. ...read more.


the good or evil, for love or hatred, for patriotism or discontent for the decomposition of virtue into vice, or the reverse, at any single moment in the soul of one of these its quiet servants, with the composed faces and the regulated actions. The 'sophisticated' utilitarian system of education robs the children of their childhood. It takes away all imagination, wonder and prosperity for them and replaces it with cold calculation and mathematical thought. This is not good as childhood is the greatest part of a person's life, and this education is not teaching them life skills, only how not to be clinically humane. Children are denied access to stories, thus halting their flourishing imagination at a sudden stop. They are exposed to statistics at an early age and therefore have a 'cold', mathematical future as they are constantly fed facts without any imagination to escape to. Children grow up to be just out for themselves, as selfishness and 'hardship' takes over them. They have been taught that humans desire nothing but material possessions and that they must do everything in their power to get these. This makes them cold and mechanical, as that is all they have been taught and imagination and happiness has been locked away from them. ...read more.


There he openly suggests two forms of educational emphasis: facts and imagination. Dickens suggests that the exclusion of the imagination and the mere pursuit of facts is inhuman and will, given time, produce disastrous results. The novel explores the consequences of planting a utilitarian philosophy in childhood. Tom, Louisa and Bitzer are all products of a system that is ultimately shown to be a failure. The irony of the agricultural metaphor or sowing and reaping gains considerable significance, given the novels preoccupation with industrialism. The central theme of the novel is the conflict of Fact and Fancy in children's education. The grim pursuit of facts is contrasted with the colourful and rich life of the imagination as experienced by the circus folk. When one of them is subjected to the rigours of Gradgrind's educational philosophy her human nature naturally rejects the attacks made on it: Sissy Jupe leans nothing from the artificially imposed educative processes familiar in the Gradgrind household. Nut, as we see later in the novel, her own essential goodness is instrumental in educating those suffering from the inadequacies of the Gradgrind philosophy. The children are denied the natural pursuits of childhood such as play, fantasy, fun and entertainment. They are 'dead' as children and are forced, by Gradgrind's system, to become unnatural children. They are therefore without essential qualities needed in adulthood and as of this they become in humane. Tom Spence ...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. What literary techniques does Charles Dickens employ in order to satirise the education system ...

    and we know her father is in the trade of travelling and working with horses. She has grown up watching and being hands with the horses her father works with. Yet Bitzer gives a very factual response to the question and has properly never been near a horse in his life.

  2. charles dickens hard times

    Bitzer is the model pupil of Gradgrind's model school. He is in the story to show how Gradgrind alters the minds of the children, in many ways Bitzer is like Gradgrind but not in physical appearance. For instance Bitzer has light colour hair and blue eyes.

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

    Louisa is very cold and reveals no emotion, this being from not ever experiencing emotion. To the reader, she is very straight to the point and can sometimes be abrupt. Louisa, like her father is also full of facts from his system of education, but we see how later in

  2. Imagery in Hard Times

    It exemplifies the conditions in which 'Coketowners' lived and worked in, and it shows that since they can live in conditions such as these, then they too must have very unnatural personalities. Dickens then speak of the rattling of the windows and the monotonous working of the piston.

  1. How does Dickens write about Childhood In the Opening two chapters of Hard Times?

    I think that Dickens is again expressing that he believes imagination is a must as M'Choakumchild has a lot of knowledge but his students will never be complete people as they will only ever see one side of life.

  2. How does Dickens contrast wealth and poverty in the opening book of Hard Times?

    to the muddled relations between rich and poor, especially in his treatment of Stephen, when he asks for a divorce. Whereas birth or bloodline formerly determined the social hierarchy, in an industrialized society, wealth determines who holds the most power.

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

    colour from the sun...the boy was so light eyed and light haired that the self-same rays appeared to draw out of him what little colour he possessed. His skin was so unwholesomely deficient in the natural tinge, that he looked as though...he would bleed white."

  2. Charles Dickens wrote Hard Times in 1854, it was a political novel used to ...

    Sissy is the main character from the circus, she is colourful, kind-hearted and a symbol of everything that Gradgrind is not, when she is to be taken in when her father runs away, she releases something inside of Gradgrind. This is something that we fist thought he was incapable of,

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