Hard Times

Strikingly Direct: Dickens's Introduction of Mr. Gradgrind's Character 11th Grade

Early in Hard Times, Dickens develops the portrait of Gradgrind in the classroom delivering a lesson centred on horses at his model school to his model students. Dickens carries Gradgrind’s factual theories, utilitarianism and educational system principle into his domestic family life as well as his schoolroom. Throughout the novel's earliest chapters, we begin to learn in more detail Gradgrind’s philosophy put into practise and the interactions with the students that he teaches. Mr Gradgrind’s name represents a powerful example of Dickens use of caricature. Gradgrind is a harsh, forceful-sounding word and the use of repeated G’s and a short ‘a,’ creates the automatic presumptions that the reader has towards him. The word grind represents something being worn down, for example machinery, and this is a large aspect of Coketown life. Grinding something, is reducing it to what you want it to be. Just like Gradgrind is sculpturing his students into representatives of himself.

Dickens uses descriptive language that reflects the personality of Mr Gradgrind. The repeated use of ‘cellarage' conveys that his eyes are like caves, that they have room in them, reflecting a dark, dingy cellar. They reflect a cold, dank personality that...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1744 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 10803 literature essays, 2704 sample college application essays, 663 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in