Hard times by Charles Dickens x

Topics: Gricean maxims, Charles Dickens, Pragmatics Pages: 6 (2521 words) Published: December 24, 2014
In this Assignment, I will analyse two chapters, of the Charles Dickens novel, ‘Hard times’. Hard Times will be stylistically analysed for speech/ thought presentation, point of view, Parallelism and Gricean implicature. The opening chapter introduces the first character within the novel, Mr Gradgrind the speaker in the extract and the patron of the school. The novels opening lines are spoken by Mr Gradgrind, ‘Now what I want is Facts.’ ‘Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts.’ The word ‘Fact’ is being graphologically deviant due the capital ‘F’ this allows the reader to focus on the message the speaker is trying to put across. ‘Facts’ are what are important and facts are what are important to Mr Gradgrind. The sentences are short and simple and the monotonous repetition of the word ‘Facts’ illustrates Mr Gradgrind’s mechanical and unemotional character. ‘This is the principle on which I bring up my own children and this is the principle on which I bring these children.’ This portrays the speaker’s way of life. He also brings up his own children this way and will continue this process with his pupils. Regardless, of who it is the fact remains the same, ‘Facts’ are what are important in life and facts are what Mr Gradgrind solemnly lives by. The lexis ‘Facts’ is constantly repeated to create emphasis and impact on the reader, whilst the short simple sentences contribute to his tone of manner within the extract. The opening paragraph is presented in direct speech. According to Simon (2009) direct speech is when we report what someone says by repeating the exact words for example, ‘Now what I want is facts.’ The extract is presented in third person narration that allows the reader to develop a clearer description of Mr Gradgrind. Direct speech allows the reader to come closer to the character as the words come directly from the speaker himself. The character to an extent is making a personal response as he is directly speaking to the reader. According to McLaughlin (2012:161) ‘a third type of point of view is used extremely as a literacy device, third person narration, the author writes the story as an outside voice looking into the events of the story’. In ‘Hard times’ the narrator is able to provide us with extra information about the character for example ‘The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s hair which bristled on the skirts of his bald head.’ This shows that the narrator’s tone towards the speaker is sarcastic and humorous. The use of third person narration allows the reader to paint a stronger picture of the speaker and allows the reader to acquire a greater understanding of the character that is being portrayed. A metaphor can be defined as ‘understanding something in terms of something else’ (Burke, 1945:6). The sentence ‘Plant nothing else and root out everything else’ serves as a metaphor to imply that nothing else should be taught except facts and if it is not a fact then it needs to be rooted out of the brain. This serves the purpose to enhance the reader’s imagination of exactly how important facts are to Mr Gradgrind. The exclamatory tone of the last sentence, ‘Stick to facts sir!’ confirms the significance of facts but the constant repetition allows us to understand what type of character he is, mechanical and boring. Semantic field is a ‘set of words with an identifiable semantic affinity’ (Fingan, 2008:180). The next paragraph serves the purpose of setting the scene. The scene is described as ‘Plain’ and ‘bare’ which holds connotations of empty, boring and dry. This is similar to Mr Gradgrind’s mouth which is described as ‘inflexible, dry and dictatorial.’ The word ‘Inflexible’ also holds connotations of ‘fixed’ and uncompromising which suggest that Mr Gradgrind’s view on facts are set and nothing can change his point of view. The adjectives ‘momentous’, ‘bare and ‘plain’ are brief but are further transferred within the description of the speaker himself who is described as being ‘dry’,...
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