Dickens Hard Times Essay Questions

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Just as Gadgrind rigorously enforces his utilitarian standards in his school, he is equally fervent in adhering to these principles in his own home.

He genuinely believes that his ideals are essential to leading a successful, productive existence, and instructs his children accordingly, applying his “mechanical art and mystery of educating the reason without stooping to the cultivation of the sentiments and affections.” Louisa and Tom must absorb enormous amounts of factual knowledge from an early age, while, simultaneously, their father systematically represses and eradicates any notions of wonder or imagination that they might entertain, chiding them, “Never wonder! Gradgrind seeks through his parental guidance to elicit the same results as in his school–the transformation of children into machine-like workers, lacking in personality yet supposedly ideal for efficiently performing the monotonous, repetitive labors of industrial Coketown.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

Summary: Explores the thematic opposition between fact and fancy, or the head and the heart in Charles Dickenss novel Hard Times.

This novel is split into three books, the “Sowing”, “Reaping”, and “Garnering”.

In the first book, we can see that it is aptly named because we begin to learn about who the characters are and what they are about.In addition to his firm commitment to everything factual, Gradgrind himself physically personifies the ideas fact and practicality.Dickens uses abundant imagery to give descriptions of Gradgrind’s physical appearance, which is decidedly severe and methodical, including his “square forefinger,” “square wall of a forehead”–as if the shape of a square itself denotes the very notion of ‘fact’–and eyes which “found commodious cellarage in two dark caves.” Later his face is more generally described as “unbending” and “utilitarian,” and on the whole, every aspect of his appearance serves to emphasize his rigid devotion to cold facts and his thorough disregard of any sort of non-factual nonsense.” In this analogy, the ills of suppressing emotion and fancy become disturbingly concrete; for someone to endure a twisted, crippled fancy could possibly be presumed as bad or worse than possessing none at all, and this potential hazard is manifested later in the novel.Next to Tom and Louisa, Sissy Jupe is another character in Hard Times who, perhaps most acutely, feels the oppressions of prohibited fancy in Gradgrind’s schoolroom.The first chapter of the novel commences with a speech given by Mr. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else.” Gradgrind takes enormous pride in being “eminently practical;” a “man of realities;” and he nobly (in his opinion) endeavors to bestow these qualities on the youthful pupils–or rather, to smother them in factual instruction.Gradgrind, addressed to the pupils at his school: “Now, what I want is, Facts. In short, Dickens gives an unquestionably condemning impression of Gradgrind and the school by depicting their forceful, joyless educational methods in contrast to the innocence and fragility of the children.In his novel Hard Times, an ongoing struggle ensues between the ideas of ‘fact’ and ‘fancy’– or the ‘head’ and ‘heart.’ The rivalry between these philosophies is a central theme to the Hard Times, not to mention a fundamental crux of human existence as well.Should an individual base his life on fact and rationality, or should he live by the whims of his imagination and fancy, following his heart?This is not an example of the work produced by our Essay Writing Service.You can view samples of our professional work here.


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