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Dickens' Attitude Toward Education In Hard Times

1302 words - 5 pages

Dickens' Attitude Toward Education in Hard Times

Dickens wrote Hard Times in 1854, when the industrial revolution was
active. This influenced the way the book was written. In the first two
chapters of Hard Times, Dickens' attitudes to education are presented.
He uses two characters, Gradgrind and M'Choakumchild to show the bad
views of education and the opposition to Dickens' views. There is an
immediate tension between Dickens' way of thinking and Gradgrind's and
M'Choakumchild's. Gradgrind and M'Choakumchild call the children
vessels and do not use names but numbers. The children are allowed no
independent thought. While Bitzer is how he is "supposed" to be, Sissy
Jupe is free spirited and rebellious and exposes the contrast between
the two characters. Dickens' wrote Hard Times when society was
changing and opinion was frowned on and fact only was needed.

Gradgrind and M'Choakumchild are both introduced in the first two
chapters and are alike in some ways, e.g. they both believe facts are
all the children need, although the descriptions of the men are very
different. The second paragraph of the first chapter is the
introduction to Gradgrind and where he is described thoroughly and it
is detailed. He is first introduced and described as 'the speaker'.
Dickens' builds up the picture of Gradgrind by using repetition, he
keeps repeating "the emphasis". Dickens' way of building up the
picture is like using building blocks which are very square and plain
and Gradgrind is described as very square and plain. It could be
recognized as a simile. Dickens adds a climax and builds tension to
the portraying of Gradgrind. However there is a bathetic realisation
when the reader acknowledges that it is Gradgrind who is being
described. Gradgrind's personality is displayed by Dickens. It is said
that Gradgrind always mentally introduces himself, which suggests that
he self conscious and wants to know who he is before he shares it with
anyone else. He is also organised and this is seen when it says "with
a rule and a pair of scales, and the multiplication table always in
his pocket". M'Choakumchild is introduced later in the second chapter;
he is one of the one hundred and forty schoolmasters. Instead of the
way he looked being described, like Gradgrind, his intelligence was
described. The subjects and skills that he studied and has knowledge
about were listed, e.g. "biography", "algebra" and "vocal music".
M'Choakumchild knows a lot about these subjects because they are full
of facts and imagination is not really needed to know about them. He
believes that fact is all that the children need to know and like
Gradgrind does not believe in freethinking. M'Chockumchild is the one
who will teach the children how to be like in school life and social
life. Gradgrind and M'Choakumchild are presented as...

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