The Speaker and the schoolmaster, and the third grown person present Both of the novels, although written 100 years apart show very little change in the schooling the children received. The authors show their institutions as plain and bare. Dickens even goes, as far as to say that the school room in Hard Times is a vault, not letting anyone in or out.
monotonous vault of a schoolroom Dickens likes to use repetition of words. Especially Facts and emphasis. He does this to show the squareness of Mr Gradgrind. Dickens does this to illustrate how he wants every thing to be regimented and perfect. Gradgrind had the premonition that all the children he schooled were only good for factory fodder. Hines has the same thought but did not put it so blatantly in his writing; this is because he does not want to sound so right wing.
The two books are set in industrial towns. Hines does not name his town but it is in Northern England. Dickens named his town Coketown, because this is a major part of the smelting of iron, extremely important in the Victorian age and the industrial revolution, because without it none of the steps forward would have been made to modernise products and industries. Both authors show that the children in their books have no prospects.
They leave school only knowing enough to get them into a factory or coal mine. Hines has injected a positive influence into A Kestrel for a Knave in the shape of Mr Farthing, Billys Teacher. Mr Farthing is a kind and gentle man a far cry from the harsh environment in which Billy lives. There is a profound lack of anything worth living for in Hard Times. This is because all of the children in the school in Hard Times are just going to end there lifes in a pit or factory, again this is because society in those days looked upon the working class as workers so this is were they where destined to be. Hines and Dickens use the same writing techniques to gain full effect on the reader. For example they both use similes and metaphor.
Institutions of the time consisted of workhouses, factories and schools. The workhouses, horrible places to live and work. Often run by money hungry fat cats, purely for the profit. They did not care how the children should be treated. These places were often very regimented, dull and laborious (as in the table scene in Oliver Twist, where Oliver Twist and colleges sat at two long tables eating the same food at the same pace.) There was also a lack of equality. In the factories people were paid next to nothing for very hard, dangerous work. It was not uncommon for a worker to lose a finger or even a whole hand because the machinery was not safety guarded. The schools were run like business. Sometimes the head teachers had deals with factories to send there school leavers to their factories or down their mines.
Dickens describes Coketown with metaphors of animals this is I think to show that the inhabitants of Coketown were only animals, this also adds to the primitive nature of the town. Coke town is primitive because everybody fights for the best jobs and positions in the town. Also the way that Dickens describes the buildings as animals makes this scene primitive. Mr Gradgrind believes heavily in Utilitarianism. This concept originally the brainchild of Jeremy Bentham is made a mockery of by Dickens in Hard Times, with his ironic quotes and lines. Dickens and Hines both use institutions in their novels to illustrate the poverty of the industrial town. The reader is able to sympathise with the characters in these novels through the ways that the two authors write.