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Look carefully at the opening chapters of 'Hard Times' and explore some of the ways in which Dickens' attitudes to education are presented in this chapter.

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Introduction

Look carefully at the opening chapters of 'Hard Times' and explore some of the ways in which Dickens' attitudes to education are presented in this chapter. I am going to explore the opening chapters of 'Hard Times' by Charles Dickens and discuss his attitudes towards education in his time. In particular I'm going to comment on various characters and Dickens' narrative techniques. This novel in Dickens' time was a controversial and a political comment to convey his views on education. Hard Times is about a specific time, the 1840s; and it reflects the harsh and comfortless lives of English people, particularly working-class people in that period. As well as that after about seventy years of the industrial revolution, industrialists were rich and prosperous, whereas their workers were not. In the filthy, poorly built new cities of the North, the workers were very poorly housed, overworked and underpaid. Even women and children worked fifteen hours a day, six days a week, in mines and factories. All of these issues are addressed in the novel and Dickens' exposes the government and industrialists, and he tries to a better quality of life for the workers. ...read more.

Middle

There are also vast differences between the two in their descriptions. The only description the reader gets of Gradgrind is of his "Square forefinger" and a "frown", reducing the reader's image of him as strict and aggressive. Sissy's blushing is repeated three times "... blushing deeper..." making it stick in the reader's mind to suggest shyness, but more positive images of warmth and blood are developed, through the detailed description of her "irradiated" by sunlight. This is in stark contrast to Bitzer, as he is described as; "Cold, pale, with short cropped hair, blinking short and having quivering eyelashes like insects". This makes the reader establish repulsive character in their minds, and with the final comments of "unwholesomely deficient" and "he would bleed white" makes the reader look at him as un-natural and a result of that type of education, this is in contrast to the image of Sissy's warm shy character that the reader acquires. The two character's manner is also described to the reader and again they are in contrast to each other. Bitzer recites an entirely factual, encyclopaedic, abnormal, mechanical delivery of facts; "sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs too." ...read more.

Conclusion

Education now allows for a wide range of subjects as well as compulsory subjects. Teachers now promote imagination and give inspiration to children. They allow input from the children to make sure that a subject is fully understood, and children are taught to the best of the teacher's ability. Schools have also improved and are now a little more colourful and attractive. I think that Dickens thought that education was being taught the wrong way, that teachers held too much power and authority, education allowed no input from children, because there were so many of them and teachers didn't allow it and that schools were bland and not a very nice place to be. The ideas and opinions that he expresses through the novel are; that treating people kindly is more important than facts. That while the government, bosses and managers were getting rich, women and children had terrible working environments, and that this was unfair and so very wrong in all sorts of ways. He wrote this book as a political comment and I think wholeheartedly agree with all of the issues he addresses. Jack Rankin English Coursework Miss Gainford ...read more.

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