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What literarytechniques does Charles Dickens employ in order to satirise the education system of Victorian England in the opening chapters of hard times?

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Introduction

What literary techniques does Charles Dickens employ in order to satirise the education system of Victorian England in the opening chapters of hard times? Hard times was wrote by Dickens about the Victorian education system. In the Victorian era the education system was very different with classes containing up to 50 pupils. Education was also only for the wealthy as there was definite class structures in place, with people either being very rich or very poor. Throughout the first two chapters of Hard Times, Dickens uses the literary technique known as satirise. He uses it to mock the education system, which he feels was pointless. In the following paragraphs I am going to look at the techniques that Charles Dickens uses to mock the system. Some of the techniques I am going to explore consist of; exaggeration, metaphors and personal comments made by Dickens himself. In the opening two chapters of Hard Times we get a strong negative image of the education system of that time. Dickens portrays it to be both wrong in the way it is taught and that it has very dangerous effects on the recipients. ...read more.

Middle

The exaggeration is also clear in Dickens's characters' names. 'Thomas Gradgrind' is the first character we meet. His name symbolises what the education system was all about, namely grinding the facts into the children. Dickens introduces us to this character with a description of his most central feature: his mechanized, monotone attitude and appearance. The opening chapter in Hard Times describes Mr. Gradgrind's speech to a group of young students, and it is appropriate that Gradgrind physically embodies the dry, hard facts that he crams into his students' heads. Dickens calls attention to Gradgrind's "square coat, square legs, square shoulders," all of which suggest Gradgrind's unrelenting rigidity. Later in the second chapter we are also introduced to Mr M'Choakumchild. Mr M'Choakumchild symbolises what the end product of the education system should result in. Dickens describes him as being, "turned at the same time, in the same factory, on the same principals." This quotation symbolises the sheer mechanisation of the education system as it robs you of common sense and replaces it with hard, useless facts. Mr M'Choakumchild gives us the mental picture of him chocking the children with the facts and killing their innocence. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dickens sums Sissy's appearance and her character by writing "She would have blushed deeper, if she could have blushed any deeper" This shows that by having colour Sissy still has her innocence and imagination, which means that the education system hasn't yet stifled her. Bitzer on the other hand described as having, "skin so unwholesomely deficient in the natural tinge, that he looked as though, if he were cut, he would bleed white." This quotation illustrates the effects, which the pupils endure as a result of the education system. Bitzer has had his entire child like qualities removed and replaced with hard facts. In conclusion I feel Charles Dickens has successfully managed to satirise the education system, by using exaggeration, sarcasm, repetition and literary techniques such as metaphors and imagery. He captures his dissatisfaction with the Victorian system by consistently mocking the schoolroom, the teachers and their teaching methods and sympathises with the pupils who he believes are a product of the education system of that time. The 'jug and mug' principle applies as the children are seen as empty vessels waiting to be filled with useless facts. Dickens's book is made more believable as he adds his personal first hand experiences to enlighten the readers of life in a Victorian School. ...read more.

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