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

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Introduction

Look carefully at the opening two chapters of Hard Times and explain some of the ways in which Dickens' attitudes to education are presented. Look in particular at: * Presentation of Gradgrind and M'Choakumchild. * Write about Sissy Jupe and how she contrasts with Bitzer. * Comment on the use of language and the distinction between narrative and direct speech for effect. Dickens wrote Hard Times in 1854, when the industrial revolution was active. This influenced the way the book was written. In the first two chapters of Hard Times, Dickens' attitudes to education are presented. He uses two characters, Gradgrind and M'Choakumchild to show the bad views of education and the opposition to Dickens' views. There is an immediate tension between Dickens' way of thinking and Gradgrind's and M'Choakumchild's. Gradgrind and M'Choakumchild call the children vessels and do not use names but numbers. The children are allowed no independent thought. While Bitzer is how he is "supposed" to be, Sissy Jupe is free spirited and rebellious and exposes the contrast between the two characters. Dickens' wrote Hard Times when society was changing and opinion was frowned on and fact only was needed. ...read more.

Middle

He believes that fact is all that the children need to know and like Gradgrind does not believe in freethinking. M'Chockumchild is the one who will teach the children how to be like in school life and social life. Gradgrind and M'Choakumchild are presented as plain people who do not like change. They have only one straight-forward idea of how the education system should be. They both see children as empty vessels and believe that they should be seen and not heard. Dickens' shows the juxtaposition of two pupils in the first two chapters; Sissy Jupe and Bitzer. Sissy Jupe is known as 'girl number twenty' to Gradgrind. She is free spirited and rebellious especially when Gradgrind contradicts her father's occupation. She is extremely independent. Children were seen as empty vessels by Gradgrind and M'Choakumchild but Sissy was no empty vessel. It is ironic that Sissy's father is a horse breaker and therefore a breaker of spirit but Sissy spirit will not be broken. She contrasts with Bitzer because he is the complete opposite to her. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dickens' writing is very critical and he uses the book to portray how wrong the education system was. Dickens is trying to put forward the idea that everyone can not possibly be how Gradgrind and M'Choakumchild want them to be. In the last paragraph Dickens says "when from thy boiling store, thou shalt fill each jar brim full by and by, dost thou think that thou wilt always kill outright the robber Fancy lurking within - or sometimes only maim him and distort him!" this means you can fill the children with knowledge but it will not matter. On looking at the first two chapters of Hard Times, the ways of education Dickens displayed is very different to school life today and would not be acceptable in today's society. Children should be able to show their capability and their imagination freely and to continue to express this throughout not only their education but also their life. Dickens uses Hard Times to criticise how the education system was and how it could be made better. Dickens puts forth his real feelings. Luckily, the education system has changed since the book was written and children can have freedom, individuality and opinion. ...read more.

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