Learning check

1. True/false questions

No study aids.

  1. Decide whether the following statements are true or false:




The houses in Coketown were built of bright and clean red bricks.




The river was purple because of dye.




It was very quiet in Coketown.




There were elephants and serpents in the town.




People looked alike and did the same things at the same time.




People in Coketown benefited from the work they did.




The chapels in Coketown differed from the rest of the town in both style and colour.




The main principle in the school was fact.




Mr McChoakumchild must be a kind and benevolent character.






Wider contexts

1. Literary contexts: Other media: article from The Morning Chronicle (1849), Modern Manchester.

Read the following excerpt from The Morning Chronicle (1849) and compare it with “Coketown”. Focus on style. Which text makes the stronger impression on you? Why?


“The lowest, most filthy, most unhealthy, and most wicked locality in Manchester is called Angel Meadow. It lies off the Oldham Road, is full of cellars and is inhabited by prostitutes, their bullies, thieves, cadgers, vagrants, tramps, and, in the very worst sites of filth, and darkness. My guide was sub-inspector of police – an excellent conductor in one respect, but disadvantageous in another, seeing that his presence spread panic wherever he went. Many of the people that night visited had, doubtless, ample cause to be nervous touching the presence of one of the guardians of the law.

There were no Irish in the houses we visited. They live in more wretched places still – the cellars. We descended to one. The place was dark, except for the glare of the small fire. You could not stand without stooping in the room, which might be about twelve feet by eight. There were at least a dozen men, women, and children, on stools or squatted on the stone floor round the fire, and the heat and smells were oppressive. This not being a lodging cellar, the police had no control over the number of its inmates, who slept huddled on the stones, or on masses of rags, shavings and straw, which were littered about.

Half the people who lived in the den, had not yet returned, being still out hawking lucifers, matches and besoms. They were all Irish from Westport, in the county of Mayo. After leaving, a woman followed me into the street to know if I had come from Westport and was greatly disappointed at being answered in the negative.”

Angus Reach




cadger          tigger

vagrant         omstrejfer

conductor     (her) guide

ample            rigelig

wretched      ussel, elendig

glare             lysskær

stoop             bøje sig ned

feet                måleenhed: 1foot = 30,48cm

lodging         logi

huddled        sammenkrøben

den                hule

hawking lucifers   sjakre (handle med) svovlstikker

besom           riskost


Wider contexts

2. Modern Manchester

a) Read the description of Manchester below. Underline any words or phrases that give a positive view of the city. Look up the words you do not know.

    “Not only does Manchester have a wealth of fascinating museums that reflect its unique role in the pioneering developments of the Industrial Age, but it has managed to weave the mementos of its past with a forward-looking, ambitious programme of urban development that has already offered a vision of what the future might hold.

    The future, according to Manchester, is to ensure that form follows function, and that cities are first and foremost human dwellings. Testament to this belief is the remarkable life on show at street level, from the trendy bars and boutiques of the bohemian Northern Quarter to the loud-and-proud attitude of the Gay Village and the chic, self-possessed stylings of the Castlefield area. Spend enough time here and you too will be infected with the palpable confidence of a city that knows it’s onto a good thing.”


    b) Write a text for a blog where you encourage people to visit Copenhagen. Use at least five of the words and phrases from the description of Manchester. Use about 100 words.

    c) Compare the view of city life expressed in Hard Times (Coketown) and in this text.


    Wider contexts

    3. Social philosophy: Utilitarianism.

    Utilitarianism is a theory supporting the idea that the proper course of action is the one that is useful to and benefits the greatest number of individuals. The most important contributors to this theory are considered to be Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill who introduced their ideas in the 19th century. Judging from the excerpt about Coketown, what would Dickens’ attitude to utilitarianism be?

    Find more information on the internet. Search for “Dickens, utilitarianism, Hard Times”