In his eyes there is no room for any imagination not even in the sense of shortening names ‘Don’t call yourself Sissy call yourself Cecilia’ this is quite dictatorial, because Mr Gradgrind is not asking but telling the girl what to do. His personality is described by Dickens as ‘a kind of cannon loaded to the muzzle’ which gives the impression that he is about to explode with the knowledge he knows and the facts he stores. In addition, in the second chapter another man is introduced, the school master, Mr McChoakumchild.
Again this name can be broken up and construed as him choking children with facts, forcing the children to learn what was seen as best for them. This is certainly the most violent out of all the names, and Dickens has deliberately made this so, as he regarded education as far too harsh. Aside from this he is also not portrayed as a very good teacher ‘he might have taught much more’ this quotation relates to a previous block of text where it describes a number of factual subjects which the school master has learnt.
Dickens says he might have taught much more because Mr McChoakumchild had learnt everything it would be difficult to give all of this to his pupils. This is continued when his knowledge is explained as ‘rather overdone’. Dickens has also referred to the old fable of Morgiana, a piece of fiction; Mr McChoakumchild has become so factual that he has become fictional. The third and last person in this room was the Government officer, who was not given a name but just his work title, which ties in with this working period of time.
Apart from this the fact that he has a title suggests importance and a certain wealth of knowledge; on the other hand a person without a name can be seen as not being a person at all. The officer also seem quite intimidating because ‘he would go in and damage whatever subject’ he would find a way for there to be fact in what he was talking about or what someone else was talking about. He also mirrors Gradgrind in his preaching of ‘Fact, Fact, Fact. ‘ as though he was reiterating for the benefit of the children as if they hadn’t already heard enough.
Passed all this defence of fact, Dickens makes it clear that he is not just a hardcore factual base like the two other teachers by saying ‘said the gentleman warmly’ this gives a sense of passion and an approachable character. As at least 2 out of 3 of these men see fact as a relative of theirs, this must rub off on their pupils. However Sissy (or girl number 20) comes from the circus and cannot understand the devotion to fact. During the class she is unable to define a horse after Mr Gradgrind has tried to find an answer to the mystery of the title for the job of Sissy’s father.
Then we are introduced to Bitzer a strongly spoken pupil who is able to define a horse with as many facts as only Mr Gradgrind could out-fact. In conclusion as a result of the exhausting exposure to fact Mr Gradgrind gradually learns that all this fact is not good for the pupil. An example of this is his own daughter, she had been stuffed full of facts so much that when she should have felt emotion she couldn’t she did not know what to feel. Bitzer also had this reaction, as he had no feelings for anyone by the end of the novel in terms of other people’s emotions, Bitzer was unable to read into them and determine what they meant.
Dickens secretly criticises Gradgrind’s utilitarian views, as every person is different, it is not just like a machine where all the produce is exactly equal to the first and the last. Furthermore the novel is riddled with bible passages, which could be seen as ironic, as Christianity, has not been proven by fact nor can we disregard it at a fictional story. Religion is the bridge, bridging the gap between Fact and Fancy. Gradgrind’s religion was to facts and in the end he lost faith.