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How does Dickens present his views on education in 'hard times'?

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Introduction

Prose assignment Jonathan Schofield How does Dickens present his views on education in 'hard times'? Hard times is set in the 1840's in the North of England. It's set at a time when Britain is changing dramatically because of the Industrial Revolution, which is mainly affecting this part of Britain. This revolution moved much of the work from the country into towns and cities, and small cramped villages were built around the factories and mills to house the workers. Dickens novel 'hard times' was set during this time. Dickens uses many techniques throughout the novel to show his views on education to his readers, the first of which is to create different characters, some of which contrast each other in different ways . Two of such Characters are Sissy Jupe and Bitzer. They differ in the ways they have been taught and the ways they see the education system. Bitzer is a model student, he has always strictly followed the system and been taught exactly how the system requires him to be taught. He is shown as lifeless and colourless, 'the boy was so light-eyed and light-haired that the self-same rays appeared to draw out of him what little colour he ever possessed.' ...read more.

Middle

Dickens then introduces the teacher, himself manufactured in much the same way as 'piano forte legs', showing that he is also part of an industry, like goods produced in a factory. Dickens creates the name ' M'Choakumchild which alone seems to pose a threat to the children. Dickens also uses a long list of complicated subjects like 'Orthography, etymology, syntax and prosody, to satirise the education system and show that it is ridiculous to teach young children such things. In effect Dickens says that the teachers had been over taught and maybe if M' Choakumchild had 'learnt a little less, how infinitely better he might have taught much more!' This is saying that if there was slightly less room for facts in his brain there would be more room for thought. Dickens ends by comically referring to Morgiana in the Forty Thieves suggesting that it was impossible to 'kill outright the robber fancy' instead that they only 'maim and distort'. This is saying that it isn't always possible to fill the student totally with facts , but to fill them to a point where they have little room for other things such as imagination. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dickens main view in the novel is that the ways the students are taught are wrong and are based too much on just learning facts. He believes that children should be taught to use their imagination and to think for themselves as well as being taught facts. He also believes that the attitude from the education staff towards learning is wrong, they believe that to be the perfect student is to know a great deal of facts, and to think for themselves is not an issue; but Dickens does not believe this. He presents these views in different ways, most of which though include using other characters to his advantage, mainly the school staff. Dickens tells us of their views and uses satire to make his point. He comically describes some off the staff both in their appearance and character. Doing this makes us think of them less seriously therefore taking their views less seriously, which promote his own. He uses language very well, he uses many metaphors and is very descriptive, which helps us to understand the character he is portraying. It is apparent that Dickens' purpose in the novel is to make the reader understand and agree with his views on education, which he does both cleverly and effectively. ...read more.

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