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    Dickens explores contrasting values? Essay

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    Sissy helps Louisa in this way and enables her to understand about her true emotions. Their first private interaction involves the mention of school and education, but it is not long before the subject of Sissy’s father is brought up. It is Louisa who urges Sissy to speak of the matter and assures her that ‘no harm could be found in such an innocent question’. This emphasises Louisa’s curiosity about loving relationships and indicates how different the two girls are in that Louisa has yet to experience the same love and care that Sissy was brought up with.

    In contrast to Louisa, who shows no gratitude for her privileged upbringing and compares her life to a ‘light with nothing to rest upon, a fire with nothing to burn’ and ‘a starved imagination’, Sissy is grateful for her life as a horse-rider’s daughter and has an immense appreciation towards Gradgrind for providing her with an upper class educational upbringing. Sissy is clearly very different to Louisa in this way and their contrasting values are emphasised. Louisa is a product of utilitarianism and many of her values derive from this theory.

    Having been trained and programmed by her father, her ideas are in line with those of society at that time. Sissy, on the other hand, doesn’t accept utilitarianism. In school, she answers wrongly to many questions and fails to grasp many of the ideas behind this system. Sissy allows her values, which are clearly very different to Louisa’s, to come across in her responses to her teachers’ questions. She is a caring and compassionate girl who is forever concerned with others. Her life has been full of ‘fancy’, which contrasts to Louisa’s ‘metallurgical’ and ‘fact’ filled childhood.

    The girl’s values about family life clearly differ greatly, as Sissy is much more able to show her emotions. Sissy is more the model of the old fashioned lady by being kind of subservient to everyone in the house. She has been brought up in the circus, which when comparing the two girls, seems a much better environment to bring up a child in. Dickens talks of the circus people’s ‘untiring readiness to help and pity one another’. Louisa is a ‘new’ lady, educated like a man, smart, but still giving in to the men around her and sacrificing her happiness. Her father has taught her ‘never to wonder’ and has shut out many things from her life.

    Dickens establishes the contrast between Sissy and Louisa very successfully by allowing them to form the beginnings of a possible great friendship. Although their relationship is still in its early stages, during the first book, we are able to understand that due to their different upbringings they have different views and contrasting values. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Hard Times section.

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