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

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

Extracts from this document...


How does Dickens write about Childhood In the Opening two chapters of Hard Times? The opening schoolroom scene in Dickens novel Hard Times brings us straight to one of the novel's most significant themes, education. The novel starts with the voice of a headmaster, Tomas Gradgrind, 'Now what I want is facts, teach these boys and girls nothing but facts.' He is addressing a class in what is known as his 'model school'. Here, and through out the first chapter, he insists on the value of facts and that imagination and fancy is not allowed in life. Hard Times is a novel of Dickens insight on childhood and therefore education at the time he wrote it. He includes his beliefs on romanticism and empiricism in 1854. This is explored using several techniques such as, repetition, metaphors, similes, long, convoluted sentences, and the beliefs of a main subject through out the story, fact and imagination. The story is set in a dark and gloomy industrial town called 'Coketown' during the industrial revolution. The industrialism has been portrayed through the name of the town, 'Coke' meaning the unwanted substances left over from producing iron. Coketown is not described in great detail until after the second chapter. The first and second chapter, concentrate on introducing us to the main themes and subjects. Dickens wrote the novel at the highpoint of the industrial revolution, at the time people were worried that their jobs could be replaced by machines, so they travelled to bigger cities to try and find work. ...read more.


Bitzer seems very bleak, like the rest of the townspeople, but Sissy seems more colourful and imaginative as deeper words and colours are used to describe her. Sissy is one of Dickens's heroines; she is pure and innocent. She is immediately associated with heavenly light and I are told the ray of light 'irradiated' her. Both Sissy and Bitzer are seen later on in the novel, Sissy a lot more than Bitzer. But Gradgrind has taken in Sissy, as her father abandoned her, she is now a friend to him and his family. Bitzer is not seen a lot, he was involved in the attempted arrest of Gradgrind and has therefore betrayed Gradgrind. Bitzer's character never fully develops, he is unfeeling and unimaginative from the beginning to the end. We are first introduced to Gradgrind's voice at the start of the novel. He is teaching a large class with his sentiments about facts and the need for a pragmatic view of the world, this for him is what a sound education is all about. His appearance is threatening and unattractive, he is accompanied by two other adults, a schoolmaster, the other anonymous. The first description Dickens gives of Gradgrind uses repetition and builds an image of a bold, stern man straight away, 'The emphasis was helped by the speaker's square wall of a forehead ...The emphasis was helped by the speaker's mouth...The emphasis was helped by the speaker's voice...The emphasis was helped by the speaker's hair...' ...read more.


The school itself is described as a factory, 'He and some one hundred and forty other schoolmasters, had been lately turned at the same time, in the same factory...' This is what really built the image of the school up for me. It sounds as though the whole education system was made to run like a factory. The pupils are the machines and the teaches are the workers, like men and women who operate machinery are only useful to their masters for this, M'Choakumchild is only useful to Gradgrind because he is so full of facts. Dickens believed that children should have an imagination, he was a romanticist. He wrote Hard Times at a time were everyone believed in empiricism, it was very different from other novels that were wrote at the time. Dickens has used characters to represent empiricism, for example Tomas Gradgrind, as he has with characters representing romanticism, for example Sissy Jupe. Dickens dedicated Hard Times to a philosopher friend of his, Tomas Carlyle, who felt very strongly that society was threatened by industrialism. In 1892 he made the following statement, "It is the age of machinery in every outward and inward sense of that word. Nothing is now done directly by hand; all is by rule and calculated contrivance ... Men are grown mechanical in heard and in heart, as well as in hand." Throughout Hard Times Dickens refers to the workers as 'Hands', men and women who are only important to their masters because they can manage machines. We can see that Hard Times reflects the issues in Carlyle's statement, the themes of industrialism and everything following fact. Claire Boal ...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 are the reasons which Dickens gives for the hard times described in the ...

    Her relationship with her father is deadened by the education system which also kills her emotions. Her relationship with her mother is non-existent as Mrs Gradgrind just lies around all day. At the start of the novel she has a very strong relationship with her brother Tom.

  2. How does Dickens present his attitudes to education in the opening chapters of hard ...

    This allowed children to gain a decent education so that they would be more in control of their future. However, this law could have had a negative effect as the people who educated the children were the same people who ran the factories meaning the factory owners could teach the

  1. Dickens calls his novel Hard Times. How does Dickens communicate a sense of the ...

    the lifelessness of the workers which is ironic since the machinery is more alive than the people. Furthermore, the image of an elephant is designed to terrify the reader and radiate the idea that machinery was a terrifying thing for the workers to be around all day.

  2. Examine Dickens' presentation of the education system in 'Hard Times'.

    "Do you ever see horses walking up and down the sides of rooms in reality?" "Yes sir!" from one half. "No sir!" from the other. When they are questioned by the government officer they do not know the answer to simple questions.

  1. Hard times: how does Dickens use the first four chapters of "Hard Times" to ...

    the children through a factory like process, these aggressive names really emphasis how they are treated. Dickens also introduces his own feelings and thoughts by using authorial comment: "Ah, rather overdone, M'choakumchild - if he had only learnt a little less, how infinitely better he might have taught much more"

  2. Look carefully at the opening chapters of Hard Times and explore Dickens attitude towards ...

    set and spacious, as if he has something to hide behind them. As commodious means spacious, it implies Gradgrind can hide his personality and emotions behind his eyes as it emphasises 'space'. 'Cellarage' could also be known as 'dark and underground', eyes are a window to personality, but Dickens has

  1. How does Dickens shape the reader's impressions of the Gradgrind education system in the ...

    Again the repetition of square emphasises his rigid and firm beliefs. He is set on his ways like the facts he believes in. Again Dickens refers to his posture by saying that his ''neck cloth seems to be trained to take him by the throat''; this is similar to a

  2. Hard Times was one of Dickens novels that focuses mainly on the education system ...

    Dickens describes the rooms as ?plain, bare monotonous vault of a school One of the main statements Dickens is trying to make throughout this novel is the obsession and repetitiveness of facts. The word fact is repeated so much that it feels like its being shoved into the children?s heads.

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