Hard Times Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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In Hard Times, what details does Dickens use to describe the schoolroom?  

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The novel Hard Times by Charles Dickens is set in the fictitious industrial mill-town of Coketown. The first two chapters of book 1, "The One Thing Needful" and "Murdering the Innocents," take place at the town school.

The descriptions of the schoolroom in the novel are very rudimentary because the room is extremely simple and basic. In chapter 1, the school board superintendent, Mr. Thomas Gradgrind, is delivering a lecture to the students in a "plain, bare, monotonous vault of a school-room." This gives us a picture of a room that is probably not decorated and only has what is "necessary" for the education of the children. By describing the room as a "vault," Dickens probably means that it has a high-arched ceiling.

In chapter 2, Dickens fills out this description by adding that the room has bare windows, which means that there are no curtains. Rays of sunlight come into the room through the windows and strike some of the children. Dickens also writes that the room is "intensely white-washed," which means that the walls are covered with bright white paint. The boys and girls sit separately in rows divided by a narrow aisle.

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