Tom Brown's Schooldays is part novel, part education theory, but it is a great read. It is true that boys these days are unlikely to incur the wrath of their friends for not recognising a beech tree on sight, and that particular incident highlights the difference between the world described and the world as we know it. Despite this, it does not present an unrecognisable world and it actually allows us to look back on a time and a tradition long gone from modern Britain, and to smile at the innocence of children in the Victorian Era. The characters are what keeps the novel alive. To watch Tom grow from young boy to troublemaker to responsible, caring young man ready for Oxford, is a moving experience. The cast of characters around him ensure that he gets into all sorts of scrapes along the way, and the portrait painted of the great Dr. Thomas Arnold is one of a very intelligent, strong, yet caring man who quietly goes about the business of turning Tom into a young man worthy of praise. It is true that this book contains possibly the worst opening chapter in all of English literature, but get past that and you'll discover something quite special.