The grind part of the name is a connotation of a mechanical process or grinding knowledge into children. He’s quite forceful and rough, not to mention he’s a driven educator. He wants his kids and the school kids to stick to their ‘factual’ education and forget about their imaginations. All that is nonsense to him. The children in this novel are portrayed as weak because their only option was to obey commands from their elders without question.
They couldn’t rebel like today because it wasn’t part of the culture. In the classroom the children were given numbers e.g. “girl no. 18 or boy no. 7. ” This is so that it could be easier to remember who they were. It’s almost like dehumanising the children. Quite frankly teachers were not concerned with names, they were there for one thing to teach the “facts” well. The only sign of rebellion we get in the early stages of the novel when Louisa and Thomas (Gradgrind’s children) go and visit the children against Gradgrind’s will. This is because circus folk in those days were not very high in the social column and so Gradgrind didn’t want anything to do with them.
To get any fun, children would’ve had to sneak behind parent’s backs. But if they were caught the adults would have made it clear to their children just who’s in control. Louisa like other children is obedient and knows what adults are looking for. She is a respectful girl growing up under her father’s teachings. For years she was ever so quiet keeping herself to herself. She took whatever people told her and did to her and never complained. It was as if she didn’t have a mind of her own but I think she did but she was just hiding it.
This problem carried on for years and seemed to have gotten worse when she shockingly agreed to marry Bounderby. She tries to do whatever she can to please everyone, especially her father that was the cause of her marriage. Louisa gets sick and tired of her life and discovers her true feelings when Mr. James Harthouse jumps into the scene. They end up kissing which leads to Louisa having a life changing talk with her father. They talk about Louisa’s nightmare childhood and how she regrets not speaking her mind to an extent of marrying Bounderby.
She tells him, “I was tired father and I have been tired a long time. ” Louisa is saying that she is tired of hiding her true feelings and tired of trying to please everyone but at the same time compromising her principles. She comes to the conclusion that life is more than facts. It’s also quite clear that Gradgrind has experienced change as well and that facts are not the most important thing in life. Sissy is a quite a shy character. We first see her in the classroom when Gradgrind asks her name. “Sissy Jupe, Sir,” she tells him.
Gradgrind seems quite alarmed by the name “Sissy. ” “Sissy is not a name,” Gradgrind says. The name Sissy according to Gradgrind is undignified. Gradgrind decides to call her by her real name Cecilia. Gradgrind then asks her of her father’s doings and she tells him that he’s a horse-rider from the circus ring. Gradgrind discourages that and tells her “We don’t want to know anything about that here. ” This suggests that the school is respected and only people of the highest class go there and so he must be wondering how such a girl came to this school.
He tries to see how much she knows by telling her to “define a horse. ” Sissy at this point is thrown into the greatest alarm by this demand and she becomes embarrassed. When we see Sissy we know that she’s not like other kids by her name, her appearance and her personality. Her appearance is slightly unusual compared to all the other kids because she looks healthy and she wears her hair down which suggests her informality. Because of the way Gradgrind treats Sissy and other people like him we get the impression that her family is quite relaxed and don’t get stressed by much.
Obviously they’re not high in the social column otherwise Gradgrind would have treated her with far more respect. Bitzer on the other hand is more Gradgrind’s type. He worships him and does whatever he is told. When it comes to his name, it has a much harsher sound than Sissy. Bitzer appears to be a very clever boy especially when he defines the horse, “Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth… ” It’s clear that he looks up to Gradgrind and wants to be just like him “plain, bare, inflexible, unaccommodating, etc. ” The thing about Bitzer is he is like an adult while still a child.
He’s the only child that doesn’t seem to have changed when he’s grown up than when he was a child. He’s uncompromising which could be a good thing if in the right situation. What Bitzer fails to realize though is that Gradgrind changes and he fails to do that. So when Gradgrind comes to him for help he refuses, saying to him “You are the one that made me what I am. ” Bitzer is really sycophantic and he refuses to change and move on despite circumstance. In conclusion, it’s clear that the main themes are fact and imagination.
Fact is the model way to bring up children. Gradgrind bases his life on them because of the sense of certainty in them. Imagination was overlooked and unnecessary, even discouraged. Things aren’t always, as they seem though. Like I said at the beginning, Dickens is talking about growing up to find yourself and your character through time. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Hard Times section.