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Reading Fiction: Hard Times (Chapter 5)

In this worksheet, students read the opening of Chapter 5 of Charles Dickens' novel Hard Times. Then they analyse his use of language in the extract.

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

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  Reading

Curriculum subtopic:  Read a Wide Range of High-Quality Texts

Difficulty level:  

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Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

In this worksheet you are required to read the opening of Chapter 5 of the novel Hard Times by Charles Dickens and then answer the questions that follow focusing on Dickens' use of language. In this chapter Dickens describes the factories and pollution in a fictional city in industrial Victorian Britain.

 


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.

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 show that the industrial factories have polluted the city?

Select four words from the list below.

smoke

black

allowed

ashes

matters

unnatural

Dickens describes Coketown as 'a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage'. What technique is he using here?

metaphor

simile

alliteration

Why do you think Dickens compares the town to the 'face of a painted savage'? Select the best reason from the list below.

The pollution has put an extra layer of dirt on the buildings like war paint suggesting the real town is hidden beneath the pollution.

It makes the town seem nice and colourful.

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 techniques is Dickens using to decribe the smoke? Select two from the list below.

simile

metaphor

alliteration

pun

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.

Hover your mouse over the boxes to reveal the full sentences

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? Select the 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.

What 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 factories was 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 worker 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. This means, therefore, that the correct answer is that 'Coke' refers to the fuel like coal that was used to power all the factories at the time and caused lots of pollution.
  • Question 2

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

Select four words from the list below.

CORRECT ANSWER
smoke
black
ashes
unnatural
EDDIE SAYS
The words that suggest pollution are: 'smoke', 'black', 'ashes', 'unnatural'.
  • Question 3

Dickens describes Coketown as 'a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage'. What technique is he using here?

CORRECT ANSWER
simile
EDDIE SAYS
The correct answer is a simile as the town is LIKE a painted savage.
  • Question 4

Why do you think Dickens compares the town to the 'face of a painted savage'? Select the best reason from the list below.

CORRECT ANSWER
The pollution has put an extra layer of dirt on the buildings like war paint suggesting the real town is hidden beneath the pollution.
EDDIE SAYS
The correct answer is that the pollution has put an extra layer of dirt on the buildings like war paint suggesting the real town is hidden BENEATH the pollution.
  • Question 5

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

What techniques is Dickens using to decribe the smoke? Select two from the list below.

CORRECT ANSWER
metaphor
alliteration
EDDIE SAYS
The correct answers are a metaphor (because the smoke is described as a snake) and 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.

Hover your mouse over the boxes to reveal the full sentences

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
Dickens compares the smoke to a snake and uses the alliteration of the 's' sound. This suggests a hissing sound and replicates the sound of the smoke hissing from the factory chimneys.

Dickens compares the smoke to a serpent found in the story of Adam and Eve from The Bible. This suggests that Dickens sees industrialisation and the effect it has on a town as evil.

Dickens describes the smoke serpents as trailing on for ever and ever. This suggests that the factories never stop working and emphasises the polluted air.
  • Question 7

What colours are used to describe the canal and why? Select the 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.

What 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 uses alliteration on the 'm' sound.
  • Question 9

Which word in the sentence comparing the steam engine to an elephant's head suggests that life in the factories was 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 worker 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.
---- OR ----

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