Charles Dickens Hard Times was written in 1842, at the time of a massive educational debate. Charles Dickens had strong views against Victorian education and the way children were taught he felt it reflected the way society was developing. He thought everyone should have equal chances in life and believed education was the foundation of life and it determined the outcome of a person’s life. In Hard Times Charles Dickens writes about a system which was strongly influenced by utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is about achieving the greatest good for the greatest amount of people.
This means what children were taught at school was structured around useful information based upon facts and figures. “Teach these boys and girls nothing but facts. ” This quote emphasises the point that facts are the only important thing to Gradgrind, and ‘Nothing but’ tells us that facts is all he intends to know and teach. Dickens repeats the word ‘Facts’ throughout the opening paragraph. He has done this to get the idea across to the Victorian reader.
The idea that facts are all that is needed, and all Gradgrind is dependent on. In the novel children are referred as animals! “You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon facts.
” This quote shows how the teachers feel about the children, they think they are worthless and do not deserve to be treated in a humane manor. The quote may also imply that the teachers are trying to tame the children, into thinking fact is essential and nothing else is important in life beside fact! In the novel children are not called by their name, they are numbered in a numerical order! This emphasises the point that the utilitarian schooling system had no regards and care for the pupils, and that they have no say in the schooling system.
The titles of the chapters are very short and eye catching.
I believe they are strongly exaggerated and rather melodramatic. The first title is “THE ONE THING NEEDFUL” this title expresses what the utilitarian education schooling system believes to be most necessary. Fact is the foundation of their school as it is structured entirely around fact! The title is also short which makes it sound more serious and melodramatic. The second title is called “MURDERING THE INNOCENTS” it is an instant attention grabbing title! It seems very extreme and powerful, it explains how the teachers and the schooling system are slowly depriving the pupils of any imagination or emotions.