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With Regards to the text as a whole, how do the opening two chapters of the "Hard Times" by Charles Dickens reflect the social time in which Dickens wrote?

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Introduction

With Regards to the text as a whole, how do the opening two chapters of the "Hard Times" by Charles Dickens reflect the social time in which Dickens wrote? Hard Times was a novel written by Charles Dickens, born in 1812. Hard times was originally written in serial form, for a magazine called Household Words beginning on 1st April 1854. Hard times is a typical Dickens novel, but one of his shortest novels. Charles Dickens wrote Hard Times originally to improve the financial situation of the struggling magazine. Charles Dickens started work at a very young age due to his father being put in prison due to being in debt. Charles Dickens father was sent to prison when he was ten therefore Dickens went to work in a factor, he hated it, perhaps the suitable name "Hard Times" describes well the difficulties and unhappiness Dickens experienced as a boy. He wanted to go to school instead of working in the factory, but he was always interested in people with little wealth, and the novel explores the unhappiness experienced by some of the people involved in the novel. Dickens felt by writing the fictional novel he could express his thoughts, feelings and reach a wider audience. Charles Dickens eventually made money by working for the newspaper and publishing novels. ...read more.

Middle

The schoolroom is described as plain, boring and what seems a very unarming environment. "The scene was a plain, bare, monotonous vault of a schoolroom." Mr Gradgrind, the speaker, the man of facts, is described as a square looking person, with a square coat, square legs and square shoulders. This gives me the impression of a straight forward, unfriendly and un-warming person. He is made into more of an object and shape than an actual individual person meaning that he has no form of personal feeling apart from the teaching of "hard facts". He is unaccommodating and creates "Hard Times" for the pupils. Chapter Two begins with the introduction of Thomas Gradgrind, "a man of realities facts and calculations. "A man who precedes upon the principle two and two equals four, and nothing over." He always is talked about as THOMAS GRADGRIND, his full name, fact, showing he is an immediate and obedient person. At the start of chapter two, murdering the innocents, Dickens describes Gradgrind with words linked to Mathematics, a factual description to describe a factual man. Dickens then continues to describe the personality of Gradgrind, he refers to him as a "cannon loaded to the muzzle with facts and prepared to blow the regions of childhood to discharge." He uses the metaphor to relate the teaching of facts to war firing facts at the children. ...read more.

Conclusion

There was no form of relationship or feeling between pupils and teachers and the teachers spoke down to the children, they were seen as "little vessels." The novel focuses on educational and economic systems of Victorian England. The children were referred to as numbers making each child feel that they have no qualities. Children were taught facts; fantasy should not exist and must be removed from their heads and replaced with hard facts. Dickens uses particular names for the teachers to suit their character. Thoms Gradgrind was a man of hard facts who grinds facts into the children, hence the name Grad-grind. Mr M'Choakemchild was a man who removes fantasy from their brain and chokes them with facts, hence the name M'Chocke-m-child. The Gradgrind educational system based in the 19th century is somewhat different from education in the 20th century where each child can present their own thoughts and feelings and show their qualities. The teachers have relationships with the children and each child is referred to informally by their first name. In Gradgrinds educational system conversation between pupils and teachers was formal, dry and unarming. From the image I have gathered the times for children who were in education during the 19th century must have been some what hard, hence the name of the novel "Hard Times." GCSE English Coursework Jamie Hartley ...read more.

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