Hard Times by Charles Dickens an

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Hard Times by Charles Dickens an Powered By Docstoc
					Charles Dickens
                  Émile Zola
   Criticized
    utilitarianism, which
    states that the moral
    worth of an action is
    determined by its
    means
   Thomas Gradgrind
    and other educators
    focus on the factual
    and view things like
    poetry and fiction as
    “nonsense”
                            Thomas Gradgrind
   Dickens portrays Gradgrind negatively.        Thomas Gradgrind, sir. A man of
    He makes him seem almost heartless             realities. A man of fact and calculations.
    because of his beliefs.                        A man who proceeds upon the principle
   Gradgrind shows common traits of a             that two and two are four, and nothing
    utilitarian, “ready tomeasure any parcel       over, and who is not to be talked into
    of human nature”, and his belief in only       allowing for anything over. Thomas
    solid fact                                     Gradgrind, sir -- peremptorily Thomas --
                                                   Thomas Gradgrind. With a rule and a
                                                   pair of scales, and the multiplication table
                                                   always in his pocket, sir, ready to weigh
                                                   and measure any parcel of human nature,
                                                   and tell you exactly what it comes to. It is
                                                   a mere question of figures, a case simple
                                                   arithmetic. You might hope to get some
                                                   other nonsensical belief into the head of
                                                   George Gradgrind, or Augustus
                                                   Gradgrind or John Gradgrind, or Joseph
                                                   Gradgrind (all suppositions, no existent
                                                   persons), but into the head of Thomas
                                                   Gradgrind -- no sir!
   Gradgrind criticizes Sissy after she says she        Give me your definition of a horse.'
    would rather have a rug with flowers on it than
    a plain one                                          (Sissy Jupe thrown into the greatest alarm by
   He embarrasses her by asking her for the              this demand.)
    definition of a horse, which she is unable to
    answer
                                                         'Girl number twenty unable to define a horse!'
                                                          said Mr. Gradgrind, for the general behoof of all
                                                          the little pitchers. 'Girl number twenty possessed
                                                          of no facts, in reference to one of the commonest
                                                          of animals! Some boy's definition of a horse.
                                                          Bitzer, yours.'

                                                         …

                                                         'Bitzer,' said Thomas Gradgrind. 'Your definition
                                                          of a horse.„

                                                         'Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth,
                                                          namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and
                                                          twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in
                                                          marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard,
                                                          but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known
                                                          by marks in mouth.' Thus (and much more)
                                                          Bitzer.
   So many educators are turning to         So, Mr. M'Choakumchild began in
    utilitarianism                            his best manner. He and some one
   Dickens sneaks his worldview in           hundred and forty other
    with his commentary in the last           schoolmasters, had been lately
    paragraph                                 turned at the same time, in the same
   Dickens probably did not experience       factory, on the same principles, like
    utilitarianism much first hand, but       so many pianoforte legs. He had
    he saw it as a social wrong and           been put through an immense
    made it a subject of this book            variety of paces, and had answered
                                              volumes of headbreaking questions.
                                              Orthography, etymology, syntax,
                                              and prosody, biography, astronomy,
                                              geography…

                                             [Bunch of talents…]

                                             Ah, rather overdone, Mr.
                                              M'Choakumchild. If he had only
                                              leant a little less, how infinitely
                                              better he might have taught much
                                              more!
   Focuses on the
    difficulties of life in
    the coal mines
   Most of the characters
    die by the end of the
    novel
   Dangers of the coal mine      Étienne bumped his head
                                   painfully. If he hadn't been
                                   wearing a leather cap, his
                                   skull would have been
                                   cracked. Yet he had been
                                   following closely the
                                   smallest movements of
                                   Maheu ahead of him, his
                                   somber silhouette created by
                                   the flow of the lamps. None
                                   of the workers bumped into
                                   anything; they must have
                                   known every hump in the
                                   ground, every knot in the
                                   timbers, every protrusion in
                                   the rock.
   More dangers of the coal mine      The young man was also bothered
   Quality of life was very poor       by the slippery ground, which was
                                        getting more and more damp.
                                        Sometimes he passed through
                                        virtual seas which he discovered
                                        only as his feet plunged into the
                                        muddy mess. But what surprised
                                        him the most were the abrupt
                                        changes in temperature. At the
                                        bottom of the shaft it was very cold,
                                        and in the haulage tunnel, through
                                        which all the air in the mine flowed,
                                        a freezing wind was blowing, like a
                                        violent storm trapped between
                                        narrow walls. Further on, as they
                                        gradually traveled down other
                                        passageways which got less
                                        ventilation, the wind dropped and
                                        the warmth increased, creating a
                                        suffocating, leaden heat.
   Zola actually did enter a coal mine      Not a word was spoken. They all
    like the ones depicted in his story       hammered away, and nothing could
   He took details notes so was more         be heard but these irregular blows,
    reliable that Dickens                     muffled, seemingly far-off. The
                                              sounds took on a harsh quality in
                                              the dead, echoless air, and it seemed
                                              as if the shadows created a
                                              mysterious blackness, thickened by
                                              the flying coal dust and made
                                              heavier by the gas which weighed
                                              down their eyes. The wicks of their
                                              lamps displayed only glowing red
                                              tips through their metal screens.
                                              You couldn't make out anything
                                              clearly. The work space opened out
                                              into a large chimney, flat and
                                              sloping, on which the soot of ten
                                              winters had created a profound
                                              night.

				
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posted:10/4/2011
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