On the 7th February 1812 Charles John Huffham Dickens was born to John and Elizabeth Dickens in Portsmouth, England. Charles had the good fortune of been sent to school at aged 9 was short-lived when his father, who was his inspiration for the character Mr. Micawber in ‘David Copperfeild’, was sent to jail for bad debt. Charles was sent to work in Warren’s blacking factory and endured appalling conditions as well as loneliness and despair.
Due to the passing of a wealthy family member 3 years later John Dickens inherited enough money to pay of his debts, so he was released and Charles was sent back to school. This experience was never forgotten and became fictionalised in two of his better-known novels ‘David Copperfield’ and ‘Great Expectations’ when Charles went on to become one of the most popular and beloved writers who ever lived. More than just a writer, Dickens used his enormous popularity to attack injustice and strengthen the sympathies of his readers for the poor and the helpless, for orphans and outcast people.
He believed that many schools discouraged the development of the children’s imaginations, and during a lecture he gave in 1857 stated schools “trained them as little parrots and small calculating machines”. In Hard Times Dickens created his characters to reflect his views on education and showed this by the language he used to describe and tell the story. The main literary technique used by Charles Dickens is the use of exaggeration, using powerful language to elaborate reality much of which contains the truth.
Dickens exaggerates the names of the characters and the description of the characters and classroom to show you how ridiculous the education system was and how wrong it was in the way of teaching children. ‘The scene was a plain, bare, monotonous vault of a schoolroom… ” Dickens reveals that the school is dull and lifeless; there is no colour in the room or images that could stimulate a Childs mind. The word vault makes us think of a safe, a hard metal prison-like box that we use to lock away items of great importance and beauty.
In this case it is the children’s imagination that is been locked away. All imagination, creativity and joy are taken away from the children, leaving them to learn the same monotonous lessons in a cold, blank classroom. Dickens is saying that the classrooms and way of teaching lacks imagination and creativity, things a child will need to expand there mind more than facts will. Dickens emphasizes the word ‘facts’ to again show how the education system is driving away a Childs imagination. ‘NOW, what I want is, facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts.
Facts alone are wanted in life… ‘ From the very beginning Dickens is establishing with the reader that facts alone are what is been taught to the children. The education system was based upon the learning of facts and nothing else. This is acknowledged by the constant repetition of the word fact in the first chapter, especially in the first paragraph. The repetition is used to emphasize the importance of facts and that nothing else will ever be of any service to the students. Dickens is mocking there believe that a child will need nothing in life but the knowledge of facts.