In this activity, you will read the opening of Chapter 5 from the novel 'Hard Times' by Charles Dickens and then answer questions that follow focusing on Dickens' use of language. In this chapter, Dickens describes the factories and pollution in a fictional British city during the industrial Victorian era.
Chapter 5: The Key-Note
"... Let us strike the key-note, Coketown, before pursuing our tune.
It was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it; but as matters stood, it was a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage. It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever, and never got uncoiled. It had a black canal in it, and a river that ran purple with ill-smelling dye, and vast piles of building full of windows where there was a rattling and a trembling all day long, and where the piston of the steam-engine worked monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness. It contained several large streets all very like one another, and many small streets still more like one another, inhabited by people equally like one another, who all went in and out at the same hours, with the same sound upon the same pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day was the same as yesterday and to-morrow, and every year the counterpart of the last and the next."
We will now answer some questions based on this paragraph. You can refer back to it at any time by clicking on the Help button.
You should always refer to your own text when working through these examples. These quotations are for reference only.