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How Does Dickens explore the conflict between "The Wisdom of the Heart and the wisdom of the Head"?

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Introduction

How Does Dickens explore the conflict between "The Wisdom of the Heart and the wisdom of the Head"? Throughout the novel "Hard Times" by Charles Dickens, there is an underlying theme, of the "wisdom of the head" and "the wisdom of the heart." Dickens brings across these ideas using the characters of his novel. For example, in the beginning, it appears as though characters (such as Mr. Gradgrind and Mr. Bounderby) functioning on the belief of the wisdom of the head, whereas contradicting characters, (such as Sissy, and Louisa) appear to believe in the wisdom of the heart. For example, the start of the novel opens in a classroom, which is where children are taught how to think. In this particular class, the students are being told that they are to learn nothing, but straightforward facts. In the book, the word "fact" has been emphasized by always spelling it with a capital later. ...read more.

Middle

Gradgrind and Sissy are totally contrasts of one another. This is clear to us, as it appears that Gradgrind is at a loss for words, whereas Sissy knows what Louisa wants to hear, and is prepared to say and do just that. Another example of a character, which Dickens has used to show the conflict between the head and the heart, is that of Mr. Bounderby. In this novel, Bounderby is the villain. We know this, because of the way in which he treats Stephen Blackpool, (another character that Dickens has used to portray the wisdom of the heart. When Stephen dies, he begs Gradgrind to clear his name, which contradicts with Gradgrind's logical thinking, simply because everyone thought Stephen to be guilty, and therefore, it would be going against what he felt to be right). Also, he marries Louisa without feeling any love for her whatsoever. Bounderby is used to represent the social type of gentlemen of the times. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, there's a contrast between Mr. Bounderby and his mother, as they both believe in separate wisdoms. These types of contrasting characters are seen throughout the novel. The most obvious of which, would be that of Gradgrind and Sissy, as for the first few years of her life, (being risen in a circus family,) she was not taught that facts are more important then anything else. This founding belief she was taught by her father, is vital in understanding the wisdom of the heart, as it is especially emphasized when she's around characters such as Gradgrind or Bounderby. Without characters such as Louisa and her estranged husband Bounderby, the difference between the two beliefs would never be highlighted. All in all, I feel that Dickens has used his characters to explore the conflict between the wisdoms of the head and heart, as each of them represent a different way of thinking and of acting. Rochelle Enticknap 11th September 2002 Anglo European School English ...read more.

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