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Why Charles Dickens Wrote Hard Times

904 words - 4 pages

In the small section of Charles Dickens’ novel, “Hard Times,” the reader is given small clues as to why Dickens wrote the book. “Hard Times” was written to criticize, and possibly reform the education system in England during that time period. Schools were dark places. It was almost as if happiness was not allowed in schools. It actually was indirectly not allowed, because imagination wasn’t allowed to be used, and visual representations of things which are not in fact found in classrooms were no where to be found. Everything was about facts. Nothing other than the facts was taught, or even mentioned at school. Apparently, nothing else mattered. “Teach these boys and girls nothing but facts.” School would have been even more boring back then than it is today. Dickens saw the problem in the way children were being educated, and wanted to fix that. He wrote “Hard Times.” In the small part of the novel that we read, there is a class in session. The teacher humiliates a young student named Sissy. Thomas Gradgrind, the teacher, repeatedly tells his class that fact is all that matters. Imagination is useless. Dickens makes his problems with the education system very obvious in this part of the novel. It is the small details, however, that really tell the reader what the purpose of the novel is. These acute details, such as the names of the characters, dialogue or statements between characters, and descriptions of the setting, are what can tell the reader exactly what Dickens thinks about the system. The names of the two men, the dialogue between Mr. Gradgrind and Sissy, and the bland, grey description of the classroom make the mood of the story very dark and cold, which is exactly what Dickens wants.
First of all, the names of the two men in this piece of “Hard Times” are very uninviting, which reflects their personalities. The name, Gradgrind, gives off a feeling of abrasion and even violence. When something like a grinding wheel is used to grind away at materials, the wheel doesn’t change shape. The object that is being ground takes the shape of what is grinding it. If an interestingly shaped piece of metal is held to a flat grinding wheel for long enough, it too will become flat. In the same way, Mr. Gradgrind makes his students conform to him. The students that with more eccentric or out-standing characteristics are ground down until they are boring, and match all the other kids and their teacher. “‘That’s it! You are never to...

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