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Analyse Fiction: 'Hard Times' (Chapter 5)

In this worksheet, students read the opening of Chapter 5 from Charles Dickens' novel 'Hard Times' and analyse the language used.

'Analyse Fiction: 'Hard Times' (Chapter 5)' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:   Reading

Curriculum subtopic:   Support Comprehension Through Knowledge

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

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.

 

Factory by the river


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.

The name Dickens gives his town is symbolic. Use a dictionary to look up the word 'Coke' and then select the meaning of the name from the options below.

Dickens is referring to the fizzy drink of a similar name and is therefore suggesting that the city's buildings and river are the same colour as the drink due to the pollution from the factories.

Dickens wanted the name to sound like 'choke' because the pollution created by the factories meant people living in the city struggled to breathe.

'Coke' refers to the fuel like coal that was used to power all the factories at the time and caused lots of pollution.

In the opening sentence which words convey the idea that industrial factories have polluted the city?

 

Select four words from the list below.

Smoke

Black

Allowed

Ashes

Matters

Unnatural

Dickens describes Coketown as being "a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever..."

 

What technique is he using here?

Metaphor

Simile

Alliteration

Why do you think Dickens describes "a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it"?

 

Select the best reason from the list below.

The pollution has put an extra layer of dirt on the buildings.

It makes the town seem like a nice place to live.

It sounds as if the town is going to go into battle.

Dickens describes the tall chimneys and how the "serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever, and never got uncoiled."

 

What technique is Dickens using to describe the smoke other than the metaphor you've already identified?

Simile

Pun

Alliteration

Dickens' description of the smoke as a snake is extremely powerful. What effect is he trying to create?

 

Match the effect and the correct explanations below.

Column A

Column B

Dickens compares the smoke to a snake and uses the...
This suggests a hissing sound and replicates the s...
Dickens compares the smoke to a serpent found in t...
This suggests that the factories never stop workin...
Dickens describes the smoke serpents as trailing o...
This suggests that Dickens sees industrialisation ...

What colours are used to describe the canal and why? Hint: There are two colours and one explanation from the list below.

Yellow

Black

Blue

Purple

The colours emphasise the pollution of the canal due to the smoke ash and clothes dye.

The colours show the canal to be cheerful.

Dickens describes how "the piston of the steam-engine worked monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness" to power the factories.

 

Which two techniques is he using here?

Metaphor

Simile

Alliteration

Repetition

Which word in the sentence comparing the steam engine to an elephant's head suggests that life in the factory is always the same and never changes?

Madness

Melancholy

Monotonously

In the final sentence in the paragraph Dickens uses repetition to suggest that life in industrial Britain was the same for everybody and people lacked individuality; they were just workers and their lives never changed.

 

Which four words in this long sentence are repeated to suggest this? 

 

All

Streets

Like

Same

People

And

  • Question 1

The name Dickens gives his town is symbolic. Use a dictionary to look up the word 'Coke' and then select the meaning of the name from the options below.

CORRECT ANSWER
'Coke' refers to the fuel like coal that was used to power all the factories at the time and caused lots of pollution.
EDDIE SAYS
Coke is a fuel with a high carbon content, usually made from coal.
  • Question 2

In the opening sentence which words convey the idea that industrial factories have polluted the city?

 

Select four words from the list below.

CORRECT ANSWER
Smoke
Black
Ashes
Unnatural
EDDIE SAYS
These words all suggest pollution and poor air quality, a reflection of the environmental conditions in 'Coketown'.
  • Question 3

Dickens describes Coketown as being "a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever..."

 

What technique is he using here?

CORRECT ANSWER
Metaphor
EDDIE SAYS
The correct answer is a metaphor as the smoke is referred to as "interminable serpents" if the word 'like' was used the correct answer would have been simile.
  • Question 4

Why do you think Dickens describes "a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it"?

 

Select the best reason from the list below.

CORRECT ANSWER
The pollution has put an extra layer of dirt on the buildings.
EDDIE SAYS
Are you beginning to feel more confident?
  • Question 5

Dickens describes the tall chimneys and how the "serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever, and never got uncoiled."

 

What technique is Dickens using to describe the smoke other than the metaphor you've already identified?

CORRECT ANSWER
Alliteration
EDDIE SAYS
The correct answer is alliteration (on the 's' sound).
  • Question 6

Dickens' description of the smoke as a snake is extremely powerful. What effect is he trying to create?

 

Match the effect and the correct explanations below.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Dickens compares the smoke to a s...
This suggests a hissing sound and...
Dickens compares the smoke to a s...
This suggests that Dickens sees i...
Dickens describes the smoke serpe...
This suggests that the factories ...
EDDIE SAYS
This negative imagery reflects the city's negative attitude toward the smoke.
  • Question 7

What colours are used to describe the canal and why? Hint: There are two colours and one explanation from the list below.

CORRECT ANSWER
Black
Purple
The colours emphasise the pollution of the canal due to the smoke ash and clothes dye.
EDDIE SAYS
The canal is described as being black from the polluted ash and purple due to clothes dye leaking in from the factories.
  • Question 8

Dickens describes how "the piston of the steam-engine worked monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness" to power the factories.

 

Which two techniques is he using here?

CORRECT ANSWER
Simile
Alliteration
EDDIE SAYS
Dickens uses a simile here comparing a steam engine to the head of an elephant and employs alliteration with the repetition of the 'm' sound. Great focus, let's push on.
  • Question 9

Which word in the sentence comparing the steam engine to an elephant's head suggests that life in the factory is always the same and never changes?

CORRECT ANSWER
Monotonously
EDDIE SAYS
The correct answer is "monotonously", as 'monotonous' is defined as dull, tedious and repetitive.
  • Question 10

In the final sentence in the paragraph Dickens uses repetition to suggest that life in industrial Britain was the same for everybody and people lacked individuality; they were just workers and their lives never changed.

 

Which four words in this long sentence are repeated to suggest this? 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
All
Like
Same
And
EDDIE SAYS
The repetition of the words 'all', 'and', 'same' and 'like' give a monotony to the final sentence and emphasise the fact that everyone is the same and has the same daily routine. Well done, that’s another activity completed!
---- OR ----

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