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Through close analysis of the first two chapters of Hard Times, explore Dickens' attitude towards education

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Introduction

English Coursework Hard Times Through close analysis of the first two chapters of Hard Times, explore Dickens' attitude towards education. In the first chapter, Dickens introduces us with a glimpse of the story, with a descriptive insight into the school and its policies. We are not revealed the names of the characters in the opening chapter, but it introduces the schoolmaster by mere description of character and appearance. This, rather than introducing us by name, gives us a close and detailed description of one of the main characters, the schoolmaster, his views and manifestation of the school itself. This will help us understand the schoolmaster, Mr Gradgrind, and brings us to a clear understanding of his most important policy, a constant motif throughout the chapters, 'Facts'. We are also unaware of the setting but, again introduced by appearance. This is all significant to the story itself, as this is all a factual description, underlining the schools factual education. ...read more.

Middle

This is a geometrical description of the schoolmaster, portraying him as a square character, and again factual, even his appearance is mathematical. The passage continues with a graphic, factual description of the schoolmaster, using his features for emphasis of his character. 'The emphasis was helped by the speaker's voice, which was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial', again we are introduced to Gradgrind's dry, dull character, but commanding and 'dictatorial'. As the paragraph continues to assess Gradgrind we realise that everything about Gradgrind is factual, form the way he looks, to the way he dresses. 'Trained to take him by the throat with an unaccommodating grasp, like a stubborn fact, as it was,-all helped by emphasis', referring to his neckcloth, he force-feeds the pupils obstinately with facts. The chapter concludes with a sentence long paragraph comparing the pupils with 'vessels' that are 'ready to have imperial gallons of facts poured into them until they were full to the brim'. ...read more.

Conclusion

The motif emerges constantly throughout the next few sentences, 'A man of realities. A man of facts and calculations', this confirm his personality, being a 'man of facts' he incites his factual educational policies on his pupils. 'A man who proceeds upon the principle that two and two are four, and nothing over', Gradgrind sticks to the basic facts and principle, this is essential because, as we see later on Gradgrind demands (when asking how to describe a horse) only brief facts, to the point, no in depth description. Gradgrind it seems, is portrayed as a perfect, almost faultless, 'With a rule and a pair of scales, and a multiplication table always in his pocket', he is never lacking information, mathematical information or factual. The passage then continues to say that his mentality can never be altered or hindered 'You might hope to get some nonsensical belief into the head of George Gradgrind or John Gradgrind........., But into the head of Thomas Gradgrind- no, Sir', this implicates his stubbornness towards his beliefs, and ideas. ...read more.

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