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An extract from this document… Hard Times In the novel Hard Times, Dickens reveals the Victorian Society as apathetic, harsh and depressing.
Both the environment and characters are shown to be dark, dull and drab. Dickens uses a variety of techniques to show these. I am going to explore several issues from Dickens’s point of view on Victorian Society, including education, marriage, industrialisation, the relationship between the middle class and the working class, and how Dickens uses different methods and techniques to present all these.
I will refer to chapters one, two, five, eleven and fifteen while discussing all these different aspects.
In chapter 2, Murdering the Innocents, the title immediately tells us that someone is going to react in a certain attitude towards someone else. This is an effective way to start the chapter as it gives a hint to the reader about what will happen in the chapter. Dickens is basically trying to show us as the reader how boring and demanding life was at school in Victorian Society in this chapter. He uses phrases like “Girl number twenty unable to define a horse!
And “Bitzer, your definition of a horse” to show how the pupils were being treated by Mr Gradgrind.
Mr Gradgrind is described as “dictatorial” and “square” which means that he is a tyrannical person and he likes to order people to do things for him because he thinks he has more power than other people. A good example of this is when Mr Gradgrind talks to Sissy Jupe. He asks her for her name and when she replies, he immediately changes her name for her “don’t call yourself Sissy, call yourself Cecilia. ” This shows exactly how strict and harsh time was for the pupils.
Dickens has chosen the characters very carefully in this novel like the name “Mr Gradgrind” it basically means he grinds on and on and on about things just like the way he teaches his students. He created this character because he is wanting us to react in a certain emotion and feeling. A good example of this is when Gradgrind talks to Louisa about the marriage proposal, “You have been well trained, you are not impulsive, you are not romantic, you are accustomed to view everything from the strong dispassionate ground of reason and calculation.
From that ground alone, I know you will view and consider what I am going to communicate. ” This tells us how Gradgrind brings up Louisa and how hard life is for her. He always tries to fill the pupils with facts “waiting to be filled so full of facts” and he also tries to take all their imagination and excitement away. When Bitzer explains the definition of a horse “quadruped, graminivorous, forty teeth, namely twenty four grinders, four eye teeth and twelve incisive.
” Here Dickens is trying to show us how the students are being taught and trained by Mr Gradgrind. They are all brought up with facts, facts and facts and they eventually become “not impulsive” and with no imagination at all. Dickens totally hates the education policy in Victorian Society; he gives a few examples of showing this. In the first paragraph in chapter 1, Dickens shows straight away that life was a misery for the pupils “now what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but facts!
Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else and root out everything else. This is the principle of which I bring up my own children and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. ” This dialogue from Mr Gradgrind automatically shows that he doesn’t like anything apart from facts and that he is trying to make all these pupils including his own children to follow his footsteps, “Facts alone I wanted in life” is what Mr Gradgrind believes and tells his students.
Another point Dickens tries to tell us is that the pupils don’t have their own freedom and individuality, they are known as different numbers instead of their name, “girl number 20! ” This suggests to us that they are being trained and looked after like animals in a zoo. The setting Dickens has chosen in this chapter is in a very plain and dull classroom described as, “plain, bare, monotonous vault of a school room” This is not a good place for education as it is dull, “ray of sunlight which, darting in at one of the bare windows of the intensely whitewashed room.
” Dickens uses all these different techniques to express his views on education. Dickens shows us that Mr Gandgrind is a bit selfish, demanding and aggressive. He only looks at one point and believes he is always right and other people are wrong, “with a rule and a pair of scales, ready to weigh and measure any parcel of human nature and tell you exactly what it comes to. ” Dickens has used this phrase to describe Mr Gradgrind, and it is a very effective phrase because it creates an image in our heads of how demanding he is and how obsessed with facts he is.
Mr Gradgrind thinks his way of educating is excellent but really, he is destroying all the students’ precious lives and his own children as well, he keeps them in a small private study room and never allows them to see the “real world”. An example of this is when Louisa and Tom goes and visits the circus, “peeping at the circus”. Dickens is trying to suggest that Louisa and Tom are sick of their lives and they really want to visit the outside world. They have no other friends at all apart from each other and they can not communicate with any other people outside their house or class, “I am sick of my life, Loo.
I hate it altogether and I hate everybody except you! ” This shows how dull and boring their lives were and how bad they were brought up by Mr Gradgrind. When Mr Gradgrind finds out that they were in the circus, he was very furious because he thought circuses were foolish things and wasn’t anything to do with facts, “Thomas and you to whom the circle of the science is open; Thomas and you, who may be said to be replete with facts; Thomas and you, who have been trained to mathematical exactness; Thomas and you here!
In this degraded position! ” Yet, he is still talking about facts when he is telling them to go home! Dickens really puts a picture in the reader’s mind that Mr Gradgrind is totally obsessed with FACTS and he finds nothing else interesting or entertaining. Because of Gradgrind’s obsession with facts, this has leaded on a huge effect on Louisa. When Louisa got older and older, she became more dispassionate. Even when a marriage proposal was being made, she act as though she didn’t care about it and marriage was a huge commitment.
Dickens shows an interesting point on marriage. He suggests to us that life was unfair for people who got married and wished to get divorced because there were strict laws to punish them and he also shows that marriage wasn’t about real love in many cases. Dickens shows this by using phrases like, “there is a law to punish me” when Stephen Blackpool asks for advice about ending a marriage with Mr Bounderby because he is sick of his wife and he can not stand it anymore, “I cannot bear’t nommore! ”
Blackpool tries very hard to get divorced and he even pays his wife a lot of money to keep her away from him, “I ha’ paid her to keep awa’ fra’ me” but it never worked because she kept coming back and coming back. Dickens is trying to suggest that there is no “love” at all in their marriage and that Stephen Blackpool is really suffering from marriage. Another reason why Blackpool wants to get divorced is so that he could marry Rachel instead, “he wishes to be free, to marry the female whom he speaks” Dickens is showing us how much Stephen Blackpool loves Rachel here.
After the conversation between Blackpool and Bounderby, Bounderby could not help him because Stephen needed a lot of money on order to get divorced and Bounderby wouldn’t lend him the money. This chapter reveals that Mr Bounderby is a very law abiding citizen and that he won’t go out of his way to help other people. Another interesting point that Dickens suggests about marriage is when Mr Gradgrind talks to Louisa about the marriage proposal. When she hears the news from Gradgrind, she had no emotion at all, “she never said a word” and “without any visible emotion.
” This suggests that she doesn’t care who she gets married to even to the person she hates the most, a good example of this is when Mr Bounderby kisses Louisa on the cheek (Chp 4) and when he left, she immediately rubbed her cheeks furiously, “you may cut the piece out with your penknife and I wouldn’t cry! ” In this marriage proposal situation, Dickens makes it look more like a contract in Gradgrind’s mind rather than a real marriage because the proposal was offered directly to Gradgrind instead of Louisa herself.
Dickens is suggesting that the marriage proposal wasn’t really about love but more like a question and an answer, “the question I have to ask myself is, shall I marry him? That is so, is it not? ” Dickens is basically showing that he doesn’t agree with marriage at all in the Victorians Times because once people got married, they could not be allowed to get divorced regardless of happiness, family problems or even money etc… Dickens doesn’t agree with many aspects of Industrialisation at all. He uses many examples to show how Industrialisation affects both the people and the environment.
He uses techniques like Imagery and Phonic Pattering to create an impression of the environment and Coketown itself. Firstly in Chapter 11, Dickens uses words like “crashing, smashing and tearing of mechanism” these words really tells the reader what the industry is like because it creates noises in the readers minds (noise of metals being cut into pieces and the machines roaring) Dickens also uses phrases like “monstrous serpents of smoke” and “melancholy mad elephants doing their heavy exercises” to create a picture of what the factories were like (full of pollution and tired workers working in blackened factories.
He used these metaphors which were very effective to create an even better image, there wasn’t really serpents in the sky but he used those words to make it seem as though there was. And when he uses the phrase, “mad elephants, polished and oiled up for the days monotony, were at their heavy exercises again” he basically is wanting to compare the elephants to the workers as though they were both at hard work and the same old boring routines everyday. Throughout the introduction of Chapter 11, Dickens has mentioned the word “monotonous” and it basically means extremely boring.
He is trying to make the reader feel sorry for the workers because they have to work very hard and they are surrounded by pollution and also in an extremely dull environment. This shows how depressing life’s the working class had. Dickens also tries to make a point about human nature in this chapter because he makes the machine sound as though they were taking over the workers, there were more and more machines and factories being built which would produce a lot more pollution, “in the waste yard outside, the steam from the escape pipe, the litter of barrels and old iron, the ashes everywhere.
” A way that Dickens uses to help him create the impact of Industrialisation is by describing Coketown itself. In chapter 5, he uses the phrase, “it was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allow it. ” This suggests that Coketown was absolutely filled with smoke and that buildings were turning black because of it. This gives us a picture of a very dull town and a very polluted town.
Another example Dickens uses to show the town was polluted is by saying, “serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever and never got uncoiled. ” This means that the smoke will never die out and it will last on forever polluting the town. The way Dickens describes Coketown makes it sound extremely tedious, boring and over-filled with waste and pollution. He uses the phrase, “large streets all very like on another, small streets still like one another, people like one another, who all went in and out at the same hours, to do the same work everyday.
” This phrase is really effective because it describes the inhabitants of Coketown, all very similar and even the streets and their type of work are the same, this shows how boring lives were for people in the Victorian Times. Dickens shows us that he totally hates the impact of Industrialisation because all the natural things like trees and land were being replaced with factories and buildings.
This was terrible because it produced a large amount of waste and pollution and it turned the whole town into a polluted and hard-working town, “saw nothing in Coketown but what was severely workful. ” He is suggesting that the town is only to do with work and facts and nothing else. Dickens also describes the town as “savage” which means it is unclean and ferocious, “black canal and a river that ran purple with ill smelling dye. ” This also shows how sickening the town was for people.
Dickens uses all these different techniques and phrases to express his views on Industrialisation and it really gives a full picture of how the environment looked like and how dull and boring the workers lives were. Dickens also creates a circus in the novel to show that there was some hope for a bit of joy and entertainment for people and it wasn’t just about work but this leads straight on to the different classes between people because in Chapter 2, when Sissy describes her father’s job, Mr Gradgrind (middle class) redefines his job straight away, “describe your father as a horse breaker.
” This starts to show that Gradgrind doesn’t like the working class people and he doesn’t want anyone to mention anything about them at all, “we don’t want to know anything about that here” Another point Dickens uses to suggest that Gradgrind doesn’t like the working class is by saying he keeps his own children in a private study room where they get privately educated whereas the other students just get educated in one big hall. Gradgrind does this in order to keep his children away from the lower class students so they don’t get influenced, he doesn’t allow them to go anywhere at all so its really like a prison.
This shows how much Gradgrind hates the working class people. Dickens shows us that Bounderby doesn’t like the working class as well as Gradgrind. He uses a number of phrases to show this, firstly, when Bounderby, Gradgrind and Sissy were walking towards the circus, Sissy talks about what her father does in the circus and when she said “they bruise themselves very badly”, Bounderby immediately replies, “serves them right for being idle. ” This means that Bounderby thinks the working class are useless and act like fools.
Another phrase that Bounderby uses to show that he hates the working class is by saying, “you see my friend, we are the kind of people who know the value of time and you are the kind of people who don’t know the value of time. ” Bounderby is basically trying to say that he knows a lot more things that the working class and that he is always right and they are always wrong. It also shows that Bounderby thinks he is more important than them because he has more power. A good example of showing Bounderby as a selfish and bossy person is when he talks to Stephen Blackpool.
Bounderby considers him to be in a different class to him and this is partly why Bounderby wouldn’t lend him the money to get divorced and because of the fact that he is a bit selfish. All of Bounderby’s workers follow what he says but Stephen on the other hand follows what he believes is right and this leads on to Stephen being sacked and thrown out of the group. This reveals that Bounderby likes to control people around and he doesn’t like the people obeying his orders.
A big difference between the working class and the middle class is the way they talk and treated, example, Stephen Blackpool in the working class doesn’t speak properly because there are a lot of contractions in his speech, “I ha’ gone t’ th’ brigg” whereas Gradgrind and Bounderby in the middle class speak very clearly and understandable. Another example of this is when Bounderby talks to Mr Childers in the circus, the people in the circus all have funny names and strange words and Bounderby didn’t understand any of it, “nine oils, merrylegs, missing tips, garters, banners and ponging, eh??
” He then takes a great and evil laugh at them because he thinks they are fools and they use words that means nothing to him, “with his laugh of laughs, queer sort of company. ” He shows no respect to them at all and this is how Bounderby treats the working class. Dickens uses all these points to show that he is totally against the way the middle class treats the working class all just because they have less power and less wealth.
Overall, Dickens reveals that Victorian Society was a very harsh, unfair and depressing society. He shows he absolutely hated the way the education system was set up because it almost destroyed the innocent lives of the students and all their excitement. Dickens also shows that he totally disagrees with the way the middle class treats the working class and he believes that the middle class were selfish and arrogant whereas the working class lived horrible and unfair lives.
Dickens hated the entire industry in Victorian Times because it was filled with pollution and workers lives were downtrodden because they had to work in blackened factories and towns. Dickens also shows that he didn’t like the laws of marriage because people were suffering from it and they couldn’t get divorced because of the laws. Dickens hated all of these aspects and therefore he created the novel “Hard Times” to go against it all.