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Posted October 31, 2000
In depth review!
Charles Dickens : Hard Times Dickens Hard Times was written for a magazine originally called Household Words and it was published in 1850. It is set at the time of Dickens in an industrial town called Coketown. There are many plots and sub-plots, most of which all join along the way especially towards the end of the novel. The main plot however follows the school. Here are the basic characters in the story: v There is a school called Gradgrind School the master of which is Mr. M¿Choakumchild. This school believes and uses utilitarianism as a base for education. v Thomas Gradgrind works in the school as a teacher and it is his job to force facts into children. v His two children, Louisa and Tom have been brought up in this system all their lives. v Josiah Bounderby is a self-Made man, and he owns a mill, a Bank and he is a businessman, later on in the novel, he marries Louisa. v Bitzer is the bright boy in the Gradgrind School. He grows up to work for Mr. Gradgrind v Sissy Jupe, in educable in Mr. Gradgrind¿s opinion, and she had something different about her that Mr. Gradgrind cannot measure. She is the daughter of a circus clown. v Mr. Sleary owns Sleary¿s riding school, father to Sissy Jupe and performs in a circus. v Mrs. Sparsit, she is a widow and a housewife for Mr. Bounderby. She has come down in society. v Stephen Blackpool works for Mr. Bounderby in his mill. v Rachel also works for Mr. Bounderby and she is Blackpool¿s best friend. v Mrs. Pegler visits Coketown every year. v James Harthouse visits Coketown to make alliance with Mr. Bounderby to help him become a politician. The opening section of the book is set in the classroom with Mr. Gradgrind filling children with facts. The opening sentences read, ¿Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts¿ This really sets the scene for the whole book, this is also the first sign of utilitarianism. The scene is then described as plain, bare and monotonous. The speaker (Mr. Gradgrind) is even described as having a square forefinger and a square wall of a forehead. Everything is hard, cold and square. Everything can be calculated, such as a square had four equal sides, four corners etc¿ Even from this early in the novel you can tell that there is something wrong with the system. The second chapter is called ¿Murdering the innocents,¿ I think that this suggests that Mr. Gradgrind is killing the children, not physically, but mentally, he is taking away what makes them people, their individuality, the children are becoming more like robots. The words Dickens uses to describe Mr. Gradgrind are all very straightforward, very plain; this is a reflection of himself. Mr. Gradgrind when talking, he always talks about measuring and weighing. The children are then describes as Pitchers (large Jugs) ready to be filled full of facts. Sissy Jupe and Bitzer are seen in the same ray of light in the classroom, but whereas the light makes Sissy look colourful and bright, it makes Bitzer look pale and white, in fact that Dickens says that he is so pale that if he bled he would probably bleed white. Sissy Jupe is seen in Mr. Gradgrind¿s eyes as being in educable, for example in the second chapter Sissy, who has spent all her life with horses and looking after them cannot define a horse, where as Bitzer can perfectly in Mr. Gradgrind¿s eyes here is Bitzer¿s definition of a horse: ¿Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eyeteeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with Iron. Age known by marks in mouth.¿ What Mr. Gradgrind is trying to do is educate his pupils, but what really is happening is that he is being educated himself. By writing this book, I think Dickens is trying to get across what he thinks about the education system. First of all, he explores utilitarianism, and then he explores what are the consequences this sWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 6, 2010
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