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

Irony In Hard Times

Extracts from this document...


Show how Dickens uses irony to satirise In the novel, Hard Times, Dickens uses irony to satirise the Victorian society. To be more precise, he mainly satirises cities' ongoing industrialism, the nature of humans as well as other things. Dickens uses the technique to ridicule, or to condemn, things he finds ridiculous or bad. In the first chapter, The One Thing Needful, Dickens portrays Thomas Grandgrind's character clearly to the reader. "Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts..." (Sowing, Chapter I) This quotation clearly shows that, in the novel, Gradgrind's initial concept of education is to feed the children facts. The extract, "Plant nothing else, and root out everything else." exposes to the reader that Gradgrind feels children, like machines, should be supplied what it is needed i.e. facts, and nothing else (fancy or imagination). It is as though Gradgrind is treating the children like machines. Here, Dickens satirises the education system in which Victorian children went through. He, personally, agrees that facts are an important part of life but not the only one. ...read more.


(Sowing, Chapter XV) This quotation portrays Dickens' intentional irony. The latter part of the quotation, "considering how to go on." shows how Gradgrind has no sense of direction. His repetition of actions ("He took a paper-knife in his hand, turned it over, laid it down, took it up again...") indicate, or would do in most people, a loss of direction or boredom. The irony used to satirise is effective because Gradgrind was, previously, not a man who lacked direction and confidence. On the contrary, Gradgrind was a man full of self-belief and felt that everything he did is correct. Here, the irony used to satirise Gradgrind's nature works because Dickens has shown the change of personality of someone who is initially a utilitarian and not the personality of someone who has always lacked self-confidence. Alternatively, Dickens - in the form of a self-conscious narrator - could just explicitly state, "Gradgrind is no longer the man he originally was, he has no self-confidence or direction," instead of applying irony. However, the quotation above could be interpreted differently; "...considering how to go on." could suggest that Gradgrind, as an industrialist, is carefully planning what to do or say next to persuade his daughter to accept what he may well see as a 'business proposal'. ...read more.


The irony here works by using a positive adjective to describe a negative person (Mrs. Sparsit). To satirise the nature of Mrs. Sparsit, Dickens does not have to use irony. Instead he can use descriptive words which are not ironic. In this case, he could have used words such as scheming, spying to describe her. He could also have substituted the word "woman" to something worse and direct like "spy" or perhaps "shadow" to emphasise that Mrs. Sparsit is always on Louisa and Harthouse's tails. Alternatively, Dickens may be being serious when describing Mrs Sparsit as "amiable"; morally it can be argued that she is actually being amiable because she is loyal to her former master. She is loyal because she is still working for Bounderby in the sense that she is doing things he cannot do and in this context, it is spying upon Louisa and his guest. From all the evidence provided, it is apparent that, in the novel Hard Times, Charles Dickens uses irony to satirise industrialism and human nature as well as many other things within the Victorian times that he finds ridiculous or bad. All of the irony is effective because it has shown us the things that Dickens wants to satirise and the irony makes us want to satires those things too. Vinson Yeung 10W English Coursework ...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. How does Dickens present his attitudes to education in the opening chapters of hard ...

    Overall it seems that Bitzer represents the effects of Utilitarianism and Sissy, Romanticism. Dickens uses other characters such as Mr M'Choakumchild and Thomas Gradgrind to portray the way in which the education system works and effects society. Gradgrind is shown as a character that is stern in his ways and very forceful with his opinions of education.

  2. By the end of Book 1, Dickens's criticism of Gradgrind's utilitarian thinking is apparent. ...

    he had for many years been erecting, between himself and all those subtle essences of humanity" however "the barriers were too many and too high for such a leap." Gradgrind is so wrapped up in utilitarianism that he can not express his love for his own daughter.

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

    Furthermore, Dickens shows that the eighteens churches in Coketown were rarely attended, "Who belonged to the eighteen denominations? Because, whoever did, the labouring people did not. It was very strange to walk through the streets on a Sunday morning, and note how few of them the barbarous jangling of bells"

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

    This emphasises his obsession with facts and calculating things as he does not even recognise marriage should be about love and feelings. Louisa: "Do you ask me to love Mr Bounderby?" Gradgrind: "No I ask nothing." Gradgrind sees marriage as a contract he wants statistically the best person for his child.

  1. Y10 English Literature Coursework

    It's used for storing things away and locking them in there. Another meaning for vault is where they place dead bodies on top of each other and leave them there to rot away. By describing the room like this, dickens shows us that the children aren't allowed to live their lives here.

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

    He uses the word 'thin' which gives off an impression that his mouth is closed off, as his lips are thin and can be unnoticeable. Dickens describes him this way as rationalists have no imaginable feelings and therefore no reason to smile.

  1. Looking at 'Down', consider how Dickens presents the impact that Gradgrind's philosophy has had ...

    This shows his failure to understand the real moral of Luke 10:29-37, which is that the Good Samaritan has in fact gained something but this cannot be measured, and therefore in Gradgrind's view he has gained nothing. This is also part of the moral message that the novel is trying

  2. Hard times Coursework

    But nevertheless she marries him and leads a life simply for the sake of leading it, with not much else mattering to her, save her brother Setting The backdrop for all this is the industrial town based on 18th century Preston, with plenty of houses packed side to side with

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