I think that the readers dislike Bitzer because he is the boy who makes Sissy feel insignificant and small by the way he answers Mr.Gradgrind’s question. Bitzer says, “Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth…” which is exactly what Mr.Gradgrind wanted him to say, but at the same time makes the readers think that he is an annoying snotty boy. Mr.Gradgrind especially likes Bitzer I think, because at this point in the book he is living proof that his system is working and that he going to come off better because of it. The readers however, learn that this is not the case later on in the book.
I think that the first real sign that Mr.Gradgrind’s method of bringing up children is wrong is shown in the third chapter. This is where his children, Tom and Louisa are introduced into the novel; however in a way that takes Mr.Gradgrind aback This is because he finds them looking at the circus on the way home which is something that he would never allow them to do. This is because it is a very fanciful organisation and has nothing to do with the factual method that he has used to bring up his children. It is apparent that he is against the circus because of some of the remarks he makes. For instance he says things like, “In the name of wonder, idleness and folly, what do you do here?” which show how decided he is on the fact that circuses are not the place for good children to be.
It is clear from this chapter how unhappy Mr.Gradgrind’s children are with his system because Louisa says things like, “I was tired father. I have been tired a long time,” which obviously show that it is not having a good effect on the mental state of the children. I think when Louisa says things like this, it is as if Dickens himself is saying the words and voicing his opinions through the characters in the book. This gives the readers a good idea of what he thought about Mr.Gradgrind and his system, similarly to what he thought of the social system at that time.
It is clear to the readers in the beginning of the fourth chapter that Mr.Gradgrind has no perception of emotion as Dickens says, “Mr.Bounderby was as near being Mr.Gradgrind’s bosom friend as a man perfectly devoid of sentiment can approach that spiritual relationship towards another man perfectly devoid of sentiment,” which also proves that although Mr.Gradgrind comes across as unpleasant, it is only because he does not have sentimental feelings.
This statement also introduces another character, similar in personality to Mr.Gradgrind: Mr.Bounderby. His name is very satirical in that a bounder is the name given to an unscrupulous man who will do anything to get his own way. I think this is a way that Dickens shows he is against Mr.Bounderby and his thoughts and opinions, and him being a friend of Mr.Gradgrind shows that Dickens also disagrees with him.
Although their personalities seem to match, their descriptions are somewhat different in that Mr.Gradgrind is seen to be a square looking man and Mr.Bounderby seems to be quite round. I can tell this as in the text there are phrases such as, “a great puffed head” and, “inflated like a balloon.” I think this is significant because Mr.Gradgrind is a more uptight man, which can be related to a square, and Mr.Bounderby is more of a loose character, which is relevant to a circle.
Mr.Bounderby is an extremely proud and boastful man which comes across very powerfully in this fourth chapter. I think this is a device that Dickens has used to make the readers dislike him and therefore discount what he says. He is constantly tying to prove himself as being more worthy of praise then any other successful businessman, as he often manages to inject the fact that he had a hard upbringing into the conversations he is having. For instance he says things like, “I was one of the most miserable little wretches ever seen,” and, “how I fought through it, I don’t know,” when he is talking to Mrs.Gradgrind. I think this is also another method that Dickens uses to try and convince the readers of Mr.Bounderby’s unpleasant character. This is because the readers are constantly fed the image of a small wretched child in rags which gives them an understanding of what life was like for some of the working class at that time, and how Mr.Bounderby doesn’t seem to show any remorse for them.
Mrs.Gradgrind is introduced at this stage in the novel and she is portrayed as being a very sickly woman. I know this because in the text there is a sentence which describes her as being, “a little, thin, white, pink-eyed bundle of shawls, of surpassing feebleness, mental and bodily; who was always taking physic without any effect, and who, whenever she showed a symptom of coming to life, was invariably stunned by some weighty piece of fact tumbling her,” I think this sentence proves that Mr.Gradgrind’s system is extremely soul destroying as it is not only a teaching method, but a way of life which has seriously affected Mrs.Gradgrind until she has become very ill. It is clear in this chapter that Louisa seriously dislikes Mr.Bounderby because when he kisses her she says, “You may cut the piece out with your penknife,” about the place on her cheek where she has been kissed. I think the fact that other characters in the story do not like Mr.Bounderby persuades the readers to dislike him as well and therefore dislike his opinions.
The town in which the characters live: Coketown is also described as being very factual, probably because it is being run by men similar to Mr.Bounderby and Mr.Gradgrind. In the fifth chapter phrases such as, “it had no greater taint of fancy in it,” and, “unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage,” are used to describe Coketown, which obviously give an unpleasant impression. I think that this is a method that Dickens has used to get at the men who built and own the town, who are like Mr.Gradgrind and are therefore wrong in their views.
I think that Dickens’ most clear opinion of the social system at that time comes out in this chapter as he describes the working class sarcastically, from the upper class’ point of view. For instance he says, “The same people would resort to low haunts, hidden from the public eye, where they heard singing and saw low dancing, and mayhap joined in it.” which shows that the upper class did not find the fact that the working class were enjoying themselves acceptable.
Dickens also injects humour into this chapter by commenting on an old nursery fable which describes a working class woman. I think it is a sarcastic comment by Dickens in that it is saying that although the woman had food and drink she would never stop complaining, and I think that it is supposed to represent the opinion of the upper class. This is because the upper class assumed that if people were given the bare necessities they should be thankful, however Dickens is trying to prove that the working class have to derive some enjoyment from life otherwise they will undoubtedly complain.