Dickens has created the character Pip as a polite and well-mannered young orphan. This makes the reader feel even more afraid of Magwitch since he threatens an innocent child. We can understand Pip is an educated boy because his English is correct and clear, “yes sir”. Dickens repeatedly uses the word ‘sir’ which implies that Pip as a child is well-bred and has a good background because he respects his elders, even a criminal. Later, in the novel we realise that dramatic irony has been used as readers discover that Magwitch is not the villain of this novel.
As we know, Pip becomes a gentleman in the future because he has a benefactor who pays him. Soon, he finds out Magwitch is his benefactor. From this, Pip is shocked, whereas, Magwitch is simply paying Pip back for his kindness and politeness many years back. Dickens was able to change Magwitch’s character from an escaped convict to a grateful gentleman who is wealthy. Pip’s character is very nai?? ve, even though he is afraid of Magwitch, he was still curious and he pities him. For this sympathy, Pip as a child grew up to become a fine gentleman thanks to the man he once feared.
‘Hard Times’ is about Thomas Gradgrind, a wealthy Victorian businessman who lives in the industrial town of Coketown in a house called Stonelodge. Dickens has set this novel during the 1850’s. In chapter one of this novel, Gradgrind has come to inspect the school which he supports financially and is giving advice on education to the teacher, Mr M’Choakumchild. The pupils of the school are the children of poor workers. This suggests that Gradgrind’s attitude towards the children is very rude and overpowering. Gradgrind has status because he is wealthy and as an adult he treats the children like objects.
In my opinion, Gradgrind is an intimidator; he is too proud of his wealth and power. Chapter one begins in the classroom which is described as a ‘plain, bare monotonous vault’. These adjectives appeal to Gradgrind because they reflect his character. The reader can understand that Gradgrind is a tedious and tiresome man without a mind of creativity. Dickens also describes the classroom as ‘intensely whitewashed walls’. Once again this reflects Gradgrind’s character as lifeless because all he cares about is facts, there is no stimulation for the children.
The classroom is boring and predictable, like Gradgrind. Dickens has used the word ‘vault’ to show two meanings, for protecting precious things such as knowledge and also to imprison and restrict children’s imaginations. Therefore, we can understand that this is a perfect setting for Gradgrind since he is an unchanging tyrant who is obsessed with education. Dickens creates a negative impression of Gradgrind by describing him as ‘square’. Dickens repeats this adjective a few times which symbolises boredom.
His aim is to give the reader an image in their minds of Gradgrind as a very unexciting man. Dickens also uses other adjectives to describe Gradgrind’s voice and mouth, such as, ‘wide’, ‘thin’, ‘hard set’, ‘inflexible’ and ‘dry’. Dickens also uses the word ‘dictatorial’ which is to impose will on others, when one is fond of telling others what to do, or of using power or authority to make them do it. As Dickens describes Gradgrind’s physical appearance, he mentions that his eyes are ‘in two dark caves overshadowed by the wall’.
Once again, this suggests that Gradgrind is a very boring person. Dickens symbolises Gradgrind’s forehead as a ‘wall’. This implies that Gradgrind is a very hard-headed person who is only interested in one thing, and that is facts. Also, we can see that Dickens encourages the reader to laugh at Gradgrind by using similes such as, “like the crust of a plum pie”. He describes Gradgrind’s bald head by using this simile which is figurative language that draws a comparison between two different things, especially a phrase containing the word ‘like’ or ‘as’.
We can understand that Dickens has deliberately used this simile to mock and make fun of Gradgrind which will make the reader laugh. Dickens has also used a metaphor which describes Gradgrind’s bald head, “a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its shining”. Once again we can understand that Dickens is using mockery to make the reader laugh. This metaphor also links back to the start because it creates an image in the reader’s mind of planting and growing. It persuades the reader to create a negative impression of Gradgrind.
Dickens has also used the characters name ‘Gradgrind’ to create a negative impression. The verb ‘grind’ allows the reader to feel uneasy about the character. Also, the name of the house, ‘Stonelodge’ creates a negative impression to the readers mind because the noun ‘stone’ is a negative word which symbolises stiffness and resistance. Dickens has used repetition of the word facts to show importance, and capital letters for each word to make Gradgrind sound more boring. Dickens has also used imperatives or commands such as, “stick to facts, sir!
” We can understand that Gradgrind’s, speech is usually ended the way he starts it. Also, exclamation marks have been used to show aggressiveness and how serious Gradgrind is about his facts. Dickens has also created Gradgrind’s character in a way to allow the reader to despise him. For example, in chapter two, Gradgrind is very rude, he has a blunt way of addressing pupils, “I don’t know that girl. Who is that girl? ” This language used by Gradgrind suggests that his character is cheeky and intimidating. To make Gradgrind sound even more boring, Dickens has repeated the dull verb ‘said’ many times.
Dickens has also allowed Gradgrind to take total control in the room. Gradgrind is referred to as the ‘speaker’. This suggests that Gradgrind is able to use his power and statuses to merely mock the students, the students are afraid of him. Dickens has also given the reader a bad impression of Gradgrind by making him sound like a narrow-minded bully, as Gradgrind speaks of “facts alone”. Gradgrind’s purpose is to convince students to think that there is no time for imagination; Gradgrind is robbing them of their creativity side of learning.
Dickens has by now, filled the readers mind with hatred for Gradgrind, since he does not listen to anyone else’s point of view, he is too self-centred, and his voice is dry and dictatorial. Dickens has created Gradgrind’s character to be rude and obstinate. Gradgrind points rudely, and he is always surveying the room. Gradgrind refers to students as ‘reasoning animals’, ‘little vessels’ and ‘pitchers’. This kind of behaviour compels the reader to grow their hatred towards Gradgrind’s character. Gradgrind’s behaviour towards one of the students, ‘Sissy Jupe’ is very rude.
The reader is quite upset as they sympathize with Sissy Jupe’s reaction. She is just an innocent young girl, and Gradgrind murders this innocence. Gradgrind’s idea of a model student is Bitzer. The readers feeling about Bitzer would be that he had no sympathy for Sissy. Bitzer may be from a wealthier family than Sissy, therefore, he was able to define a horse. This implies that Gradgrind is stereotypical about the students. Dickens has created Gradgrind’s character in a way to make him sound like the ‘boss’, he sounds like an important person who is necessary in the students lives.
Many students are not responding to Gradgrind, they are afraid or bored. Also, the staff of the school step back in fright when Gradgrind speaks. However, this does not show any respect, only fear. In conclusion, many techniques have been used to create characters, setting, appearance, actions and others reactions that reveal a great deal about Dickens characters in the status he wanted. It was necessary for Dickens to create both Magwitch and Gradgrind; however, both were not similar characters. Magwitch was not the villain of ‘Great Expectations’, but Gradgrind did fall to the readers esteem.