Failure of the Education Systems, Charles Dickens Hard Times

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“The falsity of Mr. Gradgrind’s utilitarian philosophy of life is demonstrated by the failure of his education system as applied to his own children and to others.” Discuss this comment in relation to the novel. The education system in Coketown is that of utilitarianism, where the children are drained of their emotions, imagination and all things that make them unique as they are crammed with facts. The falsity of this system is seen as the novel follows the lives of those raised in these conditions. Louisa finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage, Tom ruins lives through his self-centered behavior and Bitzer is the model of a heartless student. Dickens shows the disasters of the failed Gradgrind philosophy with the use of foreshadowing, reoccurring themes, pathetic fallacy, symbolism along with the actions and outcomes of the characters being affected. He shows us warning signs which lead to the main progression of the novel when the main culprit of the educations system, Gradgrind, is forced to realize that it is inhumane to rule out love and imagination. Utilitarianism is a belief that actions are right if they are useful or for the benefit of a majority. Utilitarian thinkers threaten to replace ideas of morality with statistically based explanations. The education system where “little vessels” are “ready to have imperial gallons of facts poured into them” is the product of a system that claims that people should act only according to their self-interest. Mr. M’Choakumchild acknowledges and supports this as he declares, “You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them.” Dickens ironically names this character “Mr. M’Choakumchild” as he attempts to suffocate the imagination and feelings from these unfortunate children. It also suggests that the system is not as accurate as they may think.

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