” Hard times” is a novel about people who lived in English factory towns at the height of the industrial revolution. In the opening chapters, Dickens shows the brutally- practical philosophy of utilitarianism could influence life in schools and factories. He shows how pupils are “educated” in a school run by Thomas Gradgrind, and then goes on to describe the fictional town of Coketown, and the appalling conditions its factory workers had to endue.
The novel “Hard Times” is divided into three books, the first of, which is called “sowing. ” Dickens calls the first book this to refer on the one hand to plants: how they are treated when going affects their development; for example, if you leave a plant in a cellar with no water its not going to be as healthy as a well looked after plant. This is the same for children: if they are brought up by just facts then when they are adults they’re not going to be healthy mentally emotionally for the creative side hasn’t been fostered.
“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. ” In this quotation from the first line of the book, the word “facts” is repeated to emphasise the heart of the speaker’s attitude to teaching children. We later learn the speaker is named Mr. Gradgrind. Dickens gives his characters names, which indicate their personality, for Mr.
Gradgrind grinds children down with facts. From the first paragraph, the reader learns about the opinion of Gradgrind not the character or place. The tone is crisp, and no-nonsense, which helps suggest the attitude of the speaker to give the children as many facts as possible. In the second paragraph the words “plain, bare, monotonous” convey the depressing environment of a school room. Dickens describes Mr. Gradgrind with features to also show his attitude and personality.
For example, he describes parts of Gradgrind’s appearance as being square (square also being associated with mathematical precision). “The speaker’s obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square shoulders,” which indicates maths and facts. He also uses metaphorical language to create irony because you can’t just use words literally in real life “hair, which bristled on the skirts of his bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its shining surface. “