• 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. The purpose of this essay is to consider what role the circus folk play ...

    The reader's introduction to the circus as an event within Coketown comes in what can be considered a surprising way. Whilst Gradgrind is walking home past the circus he notice his own children who have been raised on fact alone watching the circus Gradgrind's exclamation of " In the name

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

    Dickens also uses phrases like "monstrous serpents of smoke" and "melancholy mad elephants doing their heavy exercises" to create a picture of what the factories were like (full of pollution and tired workers working in blackened factories.) He used these metaphors which were very effective to create an even better

  1. Does Charles Dickens Show Affection To The Working Classes Of Victorian England In Hard ...

    Rachael is put in place to represent all that is good in the world; this is done by Dickens purposely contradicting all of the values that Mrs Sparsit possesses. Again a quote from the text that backs up this point is where Rachael says 'I am, as I have told thee, Stephen, thy poor friend.

  2. How appropriate is the title of Frayn's text Spies? Within Frayn's enigmatic and richly ...

    Hayward is actually a German spy or not. In addition to this, we also have to find out who the tramp really is and piece together the clues to Stephen's real identity. In the same way that Stephen and Keith attempt to piece together the mystery of Mrs.

  1. Imagery in Hard Times

    "It had a black canal in it...like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness." The black canal and the purple-running-river with ill-smelling dyes both return back to the images of unnaturalness, and also they give us a feeling of grossness and disgust.

  2. In the opening of 'Hard Times,' how has Dickens written about childhood.

    When he says, "Now, what I want is facts. Teach...nothing but facts..." This quote is telling us what Gradgrind is about and it immediately tells us that he is indeed obsessed by facts and he won't accept anything more or less. His appearance shows what kind of a man he is.

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

    When Stephen looses his job he is unable to get another because once he is rejected by one employer he won't be able to get a job anywhere else. Stephen's friends turn against him because he refuses to join Slackbridge's union.

  2. Title: How does Dickens present the education system in Hard Times?

    We are made to understand that Coketown is 'inhabited by people equally like one another.' This is because everyone especially children were educated to end up in the factories or workhouses, where they did almost the same thing. Due to the 'smokes and ashes' that made Coketown a town of

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