The book by Charles Dickens titled Hard Time

Hard Time, a novel by Charles Dickens, is set in the North of England in the 1840s. The book was written during a period when Britain was undergoing tremendous changes as a result of the then-existing Industrial Revolution movement, which was affecting many sections of the country. It meant that rural-urban migration was visible since people were pursuing occupations that had been relocated from small constrained villages to cities and towns with factories and mills for the workers to live around the plants (Longley 28). It is thus imperative that the choice of the words "hard times" were based on this understanding as the novel was set at a time when the English people were experiencing tough times. The most relevant institution at the time was the concept of education, which the author presents plainly in trying to express his views on its inefectiveness as it denied students natural development rights.

Dickens uses different characters to express his views on education at the time to enable the reader to comprehend the Victorian learning system. Some of the characters are even noted to contrast each other in varied ways base on the manner they have been taught. Two such examples are Sissy Jupe and Bitzer who perceive the education system differently considering the traits that they have developed over time. Bitzer is a model student who has been an ardent follower of the system in place and has been taught to follow it to the letter. He thus turns out to be a lifeless and colorless subject. Meanwhile, a contrasting effect is perceived when examining the role played by Sissy. She does not even manage to describe a Horse when asked because she had been brought up in an environment that meant that she was too familiar to her that she only perceived it in the form of facts. She cannot think of ways of making the most out of money. It is stated that "[Sissy Jupe] had only yesterday been set right by a prattler three feet high, for returning to the question, 'What is the first principle of this science?' the absurd answer, 'To do unto others as I would that they should do unto me" (Dickens, Nunokawa, and McWeeny 34). She is thus used by the author to illustrate the setbacks in the education systems through it is made to appear in a comparative manner (Dickens 328). She, however, remains the main force for good in the novels based on how the author presents her.

The most important consideration is the assessment of the historical basis of the education in the book. Dicken presents one of the major themes in his books in a multifaceted manner that is not limited to the classroom setting as it is apparent today where the institution is primarily a place for memorizing facts. The author expresses that during the Victorian times, the emotive segment of education was a significant consideration (Raj 93). The history of education at the time is focused on demonstrating that it could be achieved at any time rather than the present system where it appears that there are time limitations for studying in particular levels. The institution of learning in the book is also presented as a technique that ensures that people live by valuing others as fellow creatures. It is thus apparent that the education was centered on the ability of an individual to learn about other people's lives and focus only on their productivity (Raj 94). According to the author, the Victorian times ensured that one needed to consider proper groundwork when trying to value how people live because when this was not factored, it would result in a perverted kind of learning that was misplaced in some way.

The author also described the concept of education to be centered on two criteria involving either facts or imagination. The author affirms that the exclusion of imagination and the act of blindly following facts was not advisable at the time as it was perceived to the inhuman and overtime, it could result in disastrous outcomes. The author writes that "You never meet with quadrupeds going up and down walls; you must not have quadrupeds represented upon walls. You must use,' said the gentleman, 'for all these purposes, combinations and modifications (in primary colors) of mathematical figures which are susceptible of proof and demonstration. This is the new discovery. This is fact" (Dickens, Nunokawa, and McWeeny 20). The author had also grown distraught at the fact that utilitarianism had become common in the society at the time and had even found itself in the institution of education. The utilitarian philosophy would be planted at a tender age in the mind of a child, and there are a vast number of examples to back the findings. The book presents an outcome where Tom, Louisa, and Bitzer are all victims of a system where utilitarianism is the core feature and that the author thinks is destined to fail (Raj 91). The author, however, presents an agricultural metaphor when making the description so that it does not come out as a distinct concept thanks to the established system of preoccupation and outline that was common at the time.

The author thus establishes a time when there was a massive conflict between fact and fancy when describing children's education which is a sharp contrast to the following systems. There is no element of imagination that is typical of the circus folk at the Victorian time, and many characters are used by the author to back the finding. For instance, Sissy Jupe does not learn anything from the educative processes that are apparent in the Gradgrind household (Raj 93). The author writes that "You must discard the word Fancy altogether. You have nothing to do with it. You are not to have, in any object of use or ornament, what would be a contradiction in fact. You don't walk upon flowers in fact; you cannot be allowed to walk upon flowers in carpets. You don't find that foreign birds and butterflies come and perch upon your crockery; you cannot be permitted to paint foreign birds and butterflies upon your crockery" (Dickens, Nunokawa, and McWeeny 28). It is typical that the children were denied the natural pursuit of childhood traits including play, fantasy, entertainment and all forms of fun, all of which impacted their development in some way. As the author presents them, their development ensured that they were dead as children and because of the Gradgrind system, they were being forced to be unnatural. Overall, the author points out a glaring weakness in the institution of education at the time as it was directly influenced by the utilitarianism that destroyed them and ensured they did not develop wholly.

Another way of describing the theme of education in the novel is by contextualizing it in the form of a complex outcome that destroyed the natural progress. The decomposition of vice is a huge element that characterized the education systems as it was complicated the already sophisticated system of utilitarianism that was robbing children the treasure of being children. The author writes that "'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. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children" (Dickens, Nunokawa, and McWeeny 11). The complication resulted from the fact that one could not tell entirely whether it was having a positive impact on the children or not at the time because of the implications it had. Children would not gain access to stories, or anything of that could spike their imagination, and it appeared that the society was not viewing it as a problem. The outcome can, however, be used to make an inference that it was not an appropriate system because it constituted selfish and hardship issues for the children.

The education at the time is also presented as one in which there were machine-like and conformist expectations that had been perfected by the culture. The illustration is based on the way the author shows some of the characters who develop through the use of mild gestures that favored a noncreative outcome. As outlined, the effect was that the education ended up only appearing decorative and it is compared to a pianoforte leg, but in truth, it was a leg just like any other that had been prepared from the same lathe. The author writes that "So, Mr. M'Choakum child began in his best manner. He and some one hundred and forty other schoolmasters had been lately turned at the same time, in the same factory, on the same principles, like so many pianoforte legs" (Dickens, Nunokawa, and McWeeny 19). It is stated that he had been placed in many places and would be required to answer a wide range of questions that included biography, astronomy, syntax, etymology and many other fields. Despite this, the character also knew about many aspects of the world and the histories surrounding the people. The fact that he knows history constitutes the best part of the narrative because it ensures that the model of education was geared at maintaining a conformist approach to life. The machine-like approach is further exemplified by the fact that some of the characters ended up perceiving all the life approaches at their disposal.

In summary, the description of the subject of education at the timing of the Victorian era as presented by Charles Dickens constitutes a system that had been complicated by failing utilitarian approach. Many of the characters are unable to reason beyond the obvious because they are brought up under s system that suppressed their thinking, and they could not view issues objectively as they should. Overall, the book is relevant to a historian who is interested in making comparisons between the contemporary educational structure in Europe to the Victoria system that existed at the time of writing the book Hard Times.

Works Cited

Dickens, Charles. Hard Times for These Times. N.p., 1982. Print.

Dickens, Charles, Jeff Nunokawa, and Gage McWeeny. Hard Times, A Longman Cultural Edition. Pearson Education Limited, 2004. Print.

Longley, Katharine M. "Charles Dickens and the ‘Doom' of English Wills." Journal of the Society of Archivists 14.1 (1993): 25–38. Web.

Raj, P. Prayer Elmo. "Hard Times as a Dickensian Dystopia." Karunya University Coimbatore (2010): n. pag. Print.

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