Essay on Charles Dickens' Hard Times

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Charles Dickens' Hard Times

Many characters in the novel are victims of hard times as a result of many factors. These include the lack of money, the education system, the industrialisation in the area and the social injustices of the
Victorian era. The novel is divided into three books: sowing, reaping and garnering. The names of these books have biblical references.

‘Ae ye sow, so shall ye reap’ New Testament

This means that there are consequences to all your actions, this idea features strongly in the novel. In the first book ‘sowing’, the actions of the characters were described for example the pragmatic education system. In the second book ‘reaping’, the consequences of these actions are described, and in the third
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He recognises that his education system was wrong and Dickens makes us feel sorry for him. When Tom robs the bank, we start to see emotion expressed by Mr Gradgrind which shows us how much he is changing. His old view was that emotion is not fact, and is not useful therefore it shouldn’t be expressed, but we start to see emotion later in the novel. Tom is in hiding from the authorities in the circus. Mr
Gradgrind helps Tom to escape the country even though it is a fact and the law that if you commit a crime you should be punished. His major hard time is when he realises that his whole belief system is wrong and he is forced to change. He finds it a shock that he doesn’t know his daughter, and that his education system that he has spent years building up is shattered. He also has to live and learn with the fact that his own son Tom has committed a crime. In addition to this, during the course of the novel we discover that Mr Gradgrind becomes the MP for Coketown. He is in a position of power and he can get things to change, he should really be helping people like Stephen
Blackpool.

Dickens obviously put a lot of thought into the names of the school room characters. Mr Gradgrind is so named because he is grinding the children down with facts, and Mr M’Choakumchild symbolises the children choking on facts as this is the only thing they are given throughout the day. There are also many metaphors in the school
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