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Reading Fiction: Mr Gradgrind

In this worksheets, students will read an extract and search for layers of meaning - both explicit and implicit.

'Reading Fiction: Mr Gradgrind' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:  Reading

Curriculum subtopic:  Understand Meaning

Difficulty level:  

down

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

The following extract is taken from Hard Times by Charles Dickens.


Mr Gradgrind's Speech:


'NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!'

  ...The emphasis was helped by the speaker's square wall of a forehead, which had his eyebrows for its base, while his eyes found commodious cellarage in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall. The emphasis was helped by the speaker's mouth, which was wide, thin, and hard set. The emphasis was helped by the speaker's voice, which was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial. ... The speaker's obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square shoulders, - nay, his very neckcloth, trained to take him by the throat with an unaccommodating grasp, like a stubborn fact, as it was, - all helped the emphasis.
'In this life, we want nothing but Facts, sir; nothing but Facts!
'
 

Now answer the following questions. You can view the text again if you need to by clicking on the Help button.

Mr Gradgrind, the headmaster, repeats the word "facts" a lot in his speech. When Dickens, the writer, describes him in the second paragraph, he mimics or copies this style. Which word does Dickens keep repeating in his description?

Which shape does Dickens describe Mr Gradgrind as?

Rectangle

Circle

Triangle

Square

A connotation is a feeling which is suggested by a certain description. For example, if someone "turned green" we could have connotations of feeling sick or of being jealous.

 

Which of the following characteristics do these two shapes have connotations of?

 Circle Square
jolly
strict
unsympathetic
sympathetic
friendly
firm

Read this student's work and choose the best quotation to fill in the gap:

 

Although Mr Gradgrind believes in children only knowing "facts", we can tell that the writer, Charles Dickens, doesn't think like this: _______________________________________. This shows us that Dickens uses a lot of metaphors to describe characters, which are not actually true descriptions, but which paint a picture inside the readers' head.

"wide, thin and hard set"

"square wall of a forehead"

"Stick to facts, sir!"

Which of the following school subjects would Mr Gradgrind think were the BEST ones to do? Tick three boxes.

Maths

Dance

Drama

Science

French

Art

Charles Dickens uses a simile to describe My Gradgrind's appearance: "like a _______  _____".

 

Re-read the extract and write the two missing words for the only simile in the text box below.

Read this student's work and choose the best explanation for their sentence:

 

Dickens introduces the idea that Mr Gradgrind is threatening: "root out everything else" suggests that  ________________________.

only facts should be "planted".

children should only learn certain things.

he might tell them that everything else they think is wrong, apart from "facts".

Read this quotation from the extract: "nothing else will ever be of any service to them".

 

What does Mr Gradgrind mean by this?

It is good for head teachers to be strict.

Only facts will help you in life.

Dickens is supporting Mr Gradgrind's view of the world.

  • Question 1

Mr Gradgrind, the headmaster, repeats the word "facts" a lot in his speech. When Dickens, the writer, describes him in the second paragraph, he mimics or copies this style. Which word does Dickens keep repeating in his description?

CORRECT ANSWER
emphasis
EDDIE SAYS
He repeats the word 'emphasis' a lot in the description of Mr Gradgrind.
  • Question 2

Which shape does Dickens describe Mr Gradgrind as?

CORRECT ANSWER
Square
EDDIE SAYS
Dickens describes Mr Gradgrind's "The speaker's obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square shoulders..."
  • Question 3

A connotation is a feeling which is suggested by a certain description. For example, if someone "turned green" we could have connotations of feeling sick or of being jealous.

 

Which of the following characteristics do these two shapes have connotations of?

CORRECT ANSWER
 Circle Square
jolly
strict
unsympathetic
sympathetic
friendly
firm
EDDIE SAYS
By describing the character as "square", Dickens is suggesting that his personality is strict and unfriendly.
  • Question 4

Read this student's work and choose the best quotation to fill in the gap:

 

Although Mr Gradgrind believes in children only knowing "facts", we can tell that the writer, Charles Dickens, doesn't think like this: _______________________________________. This shows us that Dickens uses a lot of metaphors to describe characters, which are not actually true descriptions, but which paint a picture inside the readers' head.

CORRECT ANSWER
"square wall of a forehead"
  • Question 5

Which of the following school subjects would Mr Gradgrind think were the BEST ones to do? Tick three boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
Maths
Science
French
EDDIE SAYS
My Gradgrind would prefer subjects where students do not have to be creative, but could just learn 'facts'.
  • Question 6

Charles Dickens uses a simile to describe My Gradgrind's appearance: "like a _______  _____".

 

Re-read the extract and write the two missing words for the only simile in the text box below.

CORRECT ANSWER
stubborn fact
EDDIE SAYS
Dickens describes everything about Mr Gradgrind - even his appearance - as stubborn and factual.
  • Question 7

Read this student's work and choose the best explanation for their sentence:

 

Dickens introduces the idea that Mr Gradgrind is threatening: "root out everything else" suggests that  ________________________.

CORRECT ANSWER
he might tell them that everything else they think is wrong, apart from "facts".
EDDIE SAYS
The best explanation here is that Mr Gradgrind would say that everything else is wrong and does not need to be learnt. The only things worth knowing are facts.
  • Question 8

Read this quotation from the extract: "nothing else will ever be of any service to them".

 

What does Mr Gradgrind mean by this?

CORRECT ANSWER
Only facts will help you in life.
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation means that Mr Gradgrind believes that only facts will help you get through life; he does not believe in creativity.
---- OR ----

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