Thomas Gradgrind talks to Sissy about her father’s profession and he assumes that he works at stables but he is a member of the circus. Gradgrind assumes Sissy knows the definition of a horse and asks Sissy “now girl number twenty your definition of a horse”, he refers to the children as numbers as if they were inanimate objects that had no significance to him whatsoever. “Of course Sissy does not know what “quadruped” means or how many toes it has, she just knows that that they are fun creatures. Dickens approves of this because Sissy again shows emotions “she curtseyed again”, showing that Sissy is s a very respectful girl that is emotional as well. Also it says “blushed deeper”; Sissy is continuously showing her emotions.Order now
Again Thomas Gradgrind has juxtaposed Sissy and Bitzer to show what is expected of Sissy, that she should become a model pupil or else. Dickens does not approve of this and he uses the devices of commenting on Sissy’s emotions to do so. Gradgrind asks Bitzer the definition of a horse. Bitzer splurts out facts and figures but Dickens emphasise that he does not have experience. He says things like “Quadruped gramnivorous”, words that children do not even know. Dickens believes that children should have knowledge from experience.
Another character is introduced at the end of chapter three, Mr.MChoakumchild. Again Dickens has used a name to emphasise how evil the system is and how wrong, it is using metaphors of what is happening to the children. A man called J.M M’Culloch had views like Mr.MChoakumchild. M’Culloch believed that the success of education was based on “enriching the mind with the knowledge of useful and interesting facts”, the grinding down of children to mere vessels. The part of the name ‘Choakumchild’ suggest that the children are being choked of emotions and their imaginations. This stifles their growth.
They cannot breath, the system is choking them. Dickens uses this device to show that the system is wrong and they are stopping children from growing and that the children are dead inside. “he and some one hundred and forty”, Mr MChoakumchild’s own education is described and other teachers have been dragged through the same system so they believe that it is right because it was their life. This also stresses the fact that the teachers are not individual. His training as a schoolmaster has been corrupted by utilitarianism so they do not realise.
The consequences of this kind of teaching is that the world would run like a large machine and no individuality would or could be found, emotions would not exist. Dickens uses these devices to show that the system should be stopped, he is trying to open the eyes of the readers to the dangers and failure of such a philosophy. At the end of chapter two Dickens gives a warning, he says “rather overdone Mr MChoakumchild” referring to him learning to many insignificant values, he had learnt many subjects but no values of life like friendship and emotion the exact way of life Dickens wants to attack. He then says “how infinitely better he might have taught much more”, Dickens is referring to values like friendship, emotion and creativity. Mr.MChoakumchild will never be able to teach these values because he knows nothing of them.
In chapter three Dickens presents Gradgrind’s children and their home. Gradgrind has many children but two are focused on in this, Tom and Louisa. Tom and Louisa have been brought up on the Gradgrind Philosophy. At first it says “the young Gradgrinds were all model…like little hares”; hailed like animals. The Children are like Bitzer, the model pupils and the best. Their childhood was corrupt because of this “which they had remembrance was a large blackboard with a dry ogre chalking ghastly figures on it”; the ogre was Thomas Gradgrind and they should have memories of toys and games not education. Dickens uses this device to show that children should be brought up with toys not black boards.
Thomas Gradgrind shows his belief in facts by saying “Ogre. Fact forbid”, this shows that the children should not be so ludicrous. “no little Gradgrind had ever learnt a silly little jingle”; the children’s childhood had been stripped down to fact and no fun, as a writer Dickens believes that imagination and entertainment are deeply important and this shows a lack of it. Dickens continues the repetition of “no little Gradgrind” to emphasise how strict Thomas Gradgrind’s rules are and how wrong they are.
Dickens then moves on to describe the Gradgrinds’ home-Stone Lodge. The ‘Stone’ part emphasises the strength of the families beliefs “A great square house, with a heavy portico darkening the principal windows as its master’s heavy brows overshadowed his eyes”, compares the house to Gradgrind himself with the device of repeating “square” and use of strong adjectives such as ‘great’ and also “a calculated, cast up, balanced and proved house” again links to Gradgrind and his belief in calculations and being balanced.
Then Dickens uses the device of ironically writing “everything that the heart could desire”, desire is an emotion of which Thomas Gradgrind does not believe in so the device of saying no matter how hard he tries to block emotions out they still get in, showing that the Gradgrind Philosophy and utilitarianism is ineffective. Finally Dickens writes “the little Gradgrinds had cabinets in various departments of science too”, children want toys not chemicals and education at an early stage.
However, Gradgrind is described as an affectionate father, although he tortures his children with removing emotions. Gradgrind believes that this is how a father treats his children, he is not aiming to treat his children badly he just does because he thinks that it is right. Gradgrind thinks he is helping them. Dickens uses this device to show that he wants to open utilitarians’ eyes to show them that what they are doing is wrong and dangerous.
In the final part of chapter three the circus comes to town, of course Gradgrind hates this because it is fun and emotional, it goes against everything he believes. Dickens thinks the circus is wonderful because it is an expression of human nature. Tom and Louisa are desperate to get a glimpse of the circus it says “Louisa peeping with all her might”; this shows that Louisa is desperate for emotions and just to get a glimpse of the fun and laughter and “Thomas abasing himself on the ground to catch but a hoof”, is desperate for the tiniest glimpse, just like Louisa. All emotions have been sucked out of their life and this situation is like telling a child not to do something because they have an overwhelming urge to do it anyway!Then comes a yelping from the crowd “Louisa! Thomas!” showing an extremely angered Gradgrind.
The children “Both rose, red” shows their embarrassment and their emotion, Dickens uses this device to show no matter how hard Thomas Gradgrind tries emotions cannot be lost. Thomas’ behaviour shows that he gives up easily and is weak, more passive. He is sub-missive. He is like a machine, the simile showing he has no emotion he just turns off and obeys whereas Louisa is slightly more rebellious she “looked at her father with more boldness”; this shows that Louisa is a bold and strong person. She has a rebellious personality and her individuality has been left in a perverted state.
Her emotions have not yet been extinguished; embers are left dying, “not with brightness natural to cheerful youth”. Louisa then goes on to say she is “tired”, the system is draining her and wearing her out. Thomas Gradgrind cannot understand the failure of his system “Tired? Of what?” Dickens uses this device to show that his system is incorrect and emotions are necessary but that Gradgrind cannot yet see this.
In conclusion, I have gathered the impression that utilitarianism was a great part of Victorian society but that does not make it right. It was a corrupt schooling system and was perverted. Dickens uses a variety of devices to share the folly in the novel, but I think that the juxtaposition between Sissy and Bitzer was important and the metaphors and similes emphasised the inadequacies of the system. I think that the Gradgrind Philosophy and utilitarianism had a lot of effect on the next generation because it did not continue it just emphasised the mistake that was made by Jeremy Bentham. If Dickens had not written this novel then we might have still lived in a corrupt environment with clones and no emotion.