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

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Emmanuel Ntombura 12/07/03 In the Opening of 'Hard Times,' How has Dickens written about childhood INTRODUCTION The basic plot of this novel is that Dickens is talking about yourself and finding your own character. Dickens employs an extravagant prose style to satirise his characters and repetition is a linguistic device and a stylish feature of Dickens's prose. For example, at the beginning of the novel, few characters appear to have certain beliefs/personalities but as time goes on, they change or a certain event happens in which they find themselves. Examples of characters who experience this change are Gradgrind and Louisa particularly. At the beginning of the novel when we first see Gradgrind we immediately get the impression that he's a strict and bad tempered man that lives according to the "principles of facts only." Later on in the novel, there was a turning point if you like where Louisa and him have a heartfelt talk about her childhood where she tells him "she's been tired a long time." From that conversation it's clear that it affected both Gradgrind and Louisa and as a result they both changed their ways. In Gradgrind's case he's longer an orthodox user of "facts" as a way of life. ...read more.


The grind part of the name is a connotation of a mechanical process or grinding knowledge into children. He's quite forceful and rough, not to mention he's a driven educator. He wants his kids and the school kids to stick to their 'factual' education and forget about their imaginations. All that is nonsense to him. The children in this novel are portrayed as weak because their only option was to obey commands from their elders without question. They couldn't rebel like today because it wasn't part of the culture. In the classroom the children were given numbers e.g. "girl no. 18 or boy no. 7." This is so that it could be easier to remember who they were. It's almost like dehumanising the children. Quite frankly teachers were not concerned with names, they were there for one thing to teach the "facts" well. The only sign of rebellion we get in the early stages of the novel when Louisa and Thomas (Gradgrind's children) go and visit the children against Gradgrind's will. This is because circus folk in those days were not very high in the social column and so Gradgrind didn't want anything to do with them. To get any fun, children would've had to sneak behind parent's backs. ...read more.


Bitzer on the other hand is more Gradgrind's type. He worships him and does whatever he is told. When it comes to his name, it has a much harsher sound than Sissy. Bitzer appears to be a very clever boy especially when he defines the horse, "Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth..." It's clear that he looks up to Gradgrind and wants to be just like him "plain, bare, inflexible, unaccommodating, etc." The thing about Bitzer is he is like an adult while still a child. He's the only child that doesn't seem to have changed when he's grown up than when he was a child. He's uncompromising which could be a good thing if in the right situation. What Bitzer fails to realize though is that Gradgrind changes and he fails to do that. So when Gradgrind comes to him for help he refuses, saying to him "You are the one that made me what I am." Bitzer is really sycophantic and he refuses to change and move on despite circumstance. In conclusion, it's clear that the main themes are fact and imagination. Fact is the model way to bring up children. Gradgrind bases his life on them because of the sense of certainty in them. Imagination was overlooked and unnecessary, even discouraged. Things aren't always, as they seem though. Like I said at the beginning, Dickens is talking about growing up to find yourself and your character through time. ...read more.

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