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GCSE: Hard Times

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  1. How does Dickens present his negative views on education in Victorian society?

    Charles Dickens wrote this book in order to convey to the contrary his ideas of education. Utilitarianism and rationalism were the hallmarks of this period, a utilitarian will provide the greatest good for the greatest number and a rationalist will exclude any metaphysicality from the situation and only focus on the factual element. Education was regarded as a machine like most practicalities, and the children were just tools that could be welded according to the facts they were taught. Coketown is the fictional city where Hard times is set, it is portrayed as an average Northern town at the time, which Charles Dickens first describes as 'a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves forever and ever'.

    • Word count: 1814
  2. What literary techniques does Charles Dickens employ in order to satirise the education system of Victorian England in the opening chapters of Hard Times?

    In Hard Times Dickens created his characters to reflect his views on education and showed this by the language he used to describe and tell the story. The main literary technique used by Charles Dickens is the use of exaggeration, using powerful language to elaborate reality much of which contains the truth. Dickens exaggerates the names of the characters and the description of the characters and classroom to show you how ridiculous the education system was and how wrong it was in the way of teaching children.

    • Word count: 1746
  3. How Dickens Presents the Education System in "Hard Times".

    Dickens repeats the word 'Facts' throughout the opening paragraph. He has done this to get the idea across to the Victorian reader. The idea that facts are all that is needed, and all Gradgrind is dependent on. In the novel children are referred as animals! "You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon facts." This quote shows how the teachers feel about the children, they think they are worthless and do not deserve to be treated in a humane manor.

    • Word count: 831
  4. Does Charles Dickens Show Affection To The Working Classes Of Victorian England In Hard Times?

    Obviously this must have a meaning to Stephen and you realise as you read the novel that it has, he is just a normal worker, stuck in a dead end job, working each day for the next, but yet he gets on with it, no complaining, moaning, just gets on with the job that he is required to do and in which sense you now see how he is a hero. He doesn't save lives, put out fires or anything like that but instead he just gets on with his life, no complaining, just does his job.

    • Word count: 1965
  5. What does Hard Times show about Dickens attitude towards education?

    So in his school, Gradgrind makes sure that the only thing being taught to the children are facts and figures. The children in the classroom aren't even being called by their real names; they have been given numbers by the teacher. The classroom itself is described as "a plain, bare, monotonous vault of a schoolroom". Now a vault is usually a square, bland room made usually from steel or metal and is used usually for storing money in banks. To have a classroom described as this gives the reader an accurate picture of how dull it was.

    • Word count: 1562
  6. Key Question: How does Charles Dickens show his dislike of the education system in his novel Hard Times?

    In brief, the children were forced to learn facts by rote - the only principle that the Utilitarian masters considered of value. It was their belief that for children who were destined to live lives of misery in poverty, the only thing useful for them would be to become efficient workers. As a result, the children's education followed the same monotonous, formal and mechanical process like their work in the factories. In "Hard Times", Dickens criticises the educational system fiercely, and illustrates his dislike through a wide range of linguistic and other devices.

    • Word count: 2465
  7. How does Dickens present his attitudes to education in the opening chapters of hard times?

    This resulted in Dickens developing a bitter resentment towards his mother which most likely influenced the many spiteful female characters portrayed in his novels. The character of Nancy from his novel "Oliver Twist" for example, could be seen as Dickens view of an ideal maternal female. His schooling was once again interrupted and ultimately ended when Dickens was forced to return to work again when he was just fifteen years old. He became a clerk in a law firm then a shorthand reporter in the courts, and finally a parliamentary and newspaper reporter which is how he began his storytelling.

    • Word count: 3821
  8. What impression does Dickens give us of Coketown and its people in Hard Times?

    He refers to the school as 'all fact', showing that the next generation were brought up to be identical to the last. The children are being made into a product of fact, strongly linking with the theme of industrialisation. The school headmaster's name, 'M'Choakumchild', suggests a lot about his character, especially given his position at the school. The name links with the theme of fact and fancy strongly by implying that the children's imagination was choked. Although the name 'Mr M'Choakumchild' suggests that children were forbidden to use their imagination, at the same time it sounds as if children made it up.

    • Word count: 1104
  9. Hard times shows women as powerless and trapped with in a patriarchate society. How far do you agree with this statement? Discuss at least three female characters.

    It could also show that she is refusing to take Bounderby's hand in marriage but in the end "realising" shows she has given up and can't handle the pressure given to her feel Dickens has presented women as powerless figures rather then having power, this may be because they are effected by the masculine ruled society at the time which "Hard Times" was wrote. Throughout this novel Dickens shows repression to women, Sissy is trying not to be repressed by Mr Gradgrind however, Sissy is such a strong character Gradgrind tries and tries and tries to do this but Sissy

    • Word count: 1009
  10. Using the first two chapters of Hard Times explore how Dickens shows his dislike to the education system

    In the eighteen hundreds teachers only taught facts, the teachers only believed facts were needed and so that's what they planted. Dickens keeps saying facts because he wants to drill facts into the reader's head, so they know how the school children felt when they had facts drilled into their heads. Dickens wants to show through the names of the chapters, what his thoughts are towards the education system. Dickens calls the second chapter 'Murdering the Innocents'. From the word 'murdering' I get thoughts of anger, sadness and ruthlessness.

    • Word count: 1582
  11. Analysis of Hard Times Chapter 2

    However, when Bitzer speaks, he defines the horse like a dictionary. This tells us immediately that Bitzer has learnt definitions, giving the impression of a studious pupil. He gives exactly what is required of him by his teacher. Also, Bitzer's name is like the name of a horse. This is ironic and adds to the sense of the pupils being like animals; required to learn these "facts." Sissy Jupe is the first girl mentioned in the novel. Previously, all the men have been very strict and authoritarian. When Gradrgrind first refers to her, he calls her "Girl number twenty."

    • Word count: 653
  12. Look carefully at the opening chapters of Hard Times and explore Dickens attitude towards education and how this refers his concern for society.

    Dickens repeats the word 'Facts' throughout the opening paragraph. He has done this to get the idea across to the Victorian reader. The idea that facts are all that is needed, and all Gradgrind is dependent on. This relates to Rationalism and how Dickens presents it to the reader in a sceptical way. He is putting the point across that children were taught this way in the Victorian period, proving his concern on how education was developing. Continuing in chapter 1, Dickens describes the classroom as "plain, bare, monotonous vault". This implies the classroom is colour-less, empty and lacks characteristics.

    • Word count: 3538
  13. How does Dickens present education in the novel Hard Times?

    "Now, what I want is facts" His education is delivered in a narrow limited manor. It is taught by dictation: 'He seemed a kind of cannon loaded to the muzzle with facts, and prepared to blow them clean out of the regions of childhood at one discharge.' This shows how Mr. Gradgrind bluntly talks at the children. The only interaction between him and the class is a fired question and a limited answer. Another method of his teaching is humiliation; this is demonstrated by the passage, "Girl number twenty"... "Who is that girl?" "Sissy Jupe, sir."

    • Word count: 1162
  14. Analysis of page 1 'Hard Times'

    Dickens uses this device, repetition, to emphasize a specific point. The speaker says; 'Facts alone are wanted in life'. This implies his opinions and views are very fixed and he is not open minded. This also connotes he is not open to new concepts and change. He highlights this point by saying; 'Stick to facts, sir'. He says this to the schoolmaster, advising him and almost to instruct him to do as he says. Dickens describes the school room as; 'plain', 'bare' and 'monotonous'. This gives the connotations of boredom and a stereotypical lecture theatre in a school. The word 'monotonous' would imply the room having little decoration, being unelaborated.

    • Word count: 796
  15. Hard Times(TM) is a social satire which explores the ills of an Industrial Victorian society. What is Dickens trying to teach his readership?

    He worked for three years in a blacking factory. It was there where he gained an insight into what was the life of the 'hands'. We can clearly see Dickens sympathising with these types of people in his book in the characters Stephen and Rachael. After three years of work he went back to schooling, from his schooling he would have seen the government start to intervene in the education system, making it compulsory, Dickens shows his dislike for this in the second chapter title, 'murdering the innocents'. After his schooling was complete he became a journalist and thereafter a writer.

    • Word count: 1044
  16. Looking at 'Down', consider how Dickens presents the impact that Gradgrind's philosophy has had upon Louisa. What wider moral points is he trying to make?

    Gradgrind despises most as it falls into his category of "fancy". The narrator serves as the "moral authority"of the novel. By way of frequent interuptions giving a kind of opinion, the narrator shapes our interpretations of the novel, for example: "It is known, to the force of a single pound weight, what the engine will do; but not all the calculators of the National debt can tell me the capacity for good or evil, for love or hatred, for patriotism or discontent, for the decomposition of virtue into vice, or the reverse, at any single moment in the soul of one of these quiet servants, with the composed faces and the regulated actions."

    • Word count: 2894
  17. Explore how Dickens presents the theme of education in the first two chapters of Hard Times. What point might he be making about the educational system of his day?

    The capitalisation of "Facts" by Dickens shows us that they are revered by Gradgrind at an almost godly level. His figure is mocked: "the speaker's square wall of a forehead" showing his forehead as a block, flat and plain; and "commodious cellarage in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall" suggests that his eyes are set back and are obscured by his brow. Dickens uses tricolons to further exaggerate his tone and appearance; "the speaker's mouth was wide, thin, and hard set", "the speaker's voice, which was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial". This creates the impression that Gradgrind's character is drab and dreary, and thus his company will be tedious and monotonous too.

    • Word count: 818
  18. Imagery in Hard Times

    When he speaks of interminable serpents, he symbolises the smoke as serpents, evil and malicious creatures. When Dickens speaks about serpents, there is a reference to the creation story in the bible; the serpent corrupts Eve and gets her and Adam sent away from Eden, from paradise, from peace, leaving only a difficult life for us. This can be shown by the difficult life of the inhabitants of Coketown. "Seen from a distance in such weather, Coketown lay shrouded in a haze of its own, which appeared impervious to the sun's rays." This is a quote from the beginning of chapter one in book two, and in some ways it makes it seem as though Coketown is in a world of its own, not bothered by the outside world, and shielded by its own smoke.

    • Word count: 1449
  19. Dickens calls his novel Hard Times. How does Dickens communicate a sense of the hard times which the working classes experienced due to industrialisation and Victorian attitudes to education? In your answer you should consider how Dickens uses characteris

    In "Hard Times", Dickens expresses the difficulties experienced by the working class in showing their lack of individuality as a result of industrialisation. The workers are described as "equally like one another...who all went in and out at the same hours, with the same sound upon the same pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day was the same as yesterday." Dickens uses alliteration and repetition here - "same hours...same sound" - to express the dullness of the workers' tedious routines and emphasise their lack of individuality.

    • Word count: 2309
  20. Discussing Hard Times By Charles Dickens.

    Gradgrind's view on education was opinions aren't wanted and to be successful in life all you need are facts. Gradgrind say's "what I want is facts." Tom and Louisa are brought up on facts. They don't socialize or go out and see what happens outside of the house. They are lonely children. They want to see what happens outside the house so they go out to the circus that comes to their town. Where they see Sissy. Gradgrind cannot believe it!

    • Word count: 661
  21. Hard Times Essay

    states that the education of children should be 'Facts, facts, facts,' nothing more, nothing less than facts. His young daughter Louisa does not seem to be fond of this statement and does not like to hear her father say it. When she is at home she is given all sorts of instruments to use by her father. She seems to dismiss the idea of using them, whereas her brother Thomas obeys by his fathers orders, showing no reluctancy, perhaps this is because he is a boy and his father would like him to succeed and become as successful as him, after all they share the same name.

    • Word count: 1830
  22. charles dickens hard times

    Dickens really wants to get this point across a lot as he was trying to inform us as the readers about reality throughout his novel. He also uses literary terms to make the novel have more feeling and better descriptions such as when he says "the emphasis was helped by the speakers hair which bristled on the skirts of his bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from shining on its surface all covered in knobs, like the crust of a plum pie.

    • Word count: 1511
  23. Hard times Coursework

    ideology he would have needed to be bought up with imagination and willpower to see his ideas through, and later on in life his teachings in the image of Blitzer force him to challenge his beliefs as his former student finds no kindness, a trait Mr Gradgrind has forgotten about during his pursuit of factual knowledge, this double personality makes him a more interesting character to the reader, as his loyalties may turn either way Thomas Gradgrind the younger on the other hand was bought up with facts, and followed a path not unlike the one his father had planned

    • Word count: 1866
  24. What Literary techniques does Charles Dickens employ in order to satirise the education system of Victorian England in the opening chapters of

    Not even a sense of fancy and imagination. They were educated to get the basics of life because they were going to be pushed into the outside world at a very young age of 12 and above or even below Dickens obviously put a lot of thought into the names of the school room characters. Mr Gradgrind is so named because he is grinding the children down with facts, and Mr M'Choakumchild symbolises the children choking on facts as this is the only thing they are given throughout the day. There are also many metaphors in the school room scene, which add to the extremity of the situation.

    • Word count: 1251
  25. Hard times by Charles Dickens

    The educators insist on teaching fact and pluck all the opinion from the tiny fragile minds that can be so easily moulded into fact filled objects. They scoop out every little fragment of imagination, not leaving the smallest detail to spare and replace it with fact, fact, fact, until they are over spilling with them. As if when filling an empty money box with pennies until it is full to the brim and over flowing, and when you take off the lid they all pour out, one after the other, penny after penny, fact after fact.

    • Word count: 758

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?

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