The portrait of Cecilia as representing music contrasts with the description of M’Choakumchild, one of the 141 schoolmasters who “had been lately turned at the same time, in the same factory, on the same principles, like so many pianoforte legs. ” Dickens uses this comparison to show the wooden and uncreative character of M’Choakumchild while Cissy is pure, untainted and unformed by factory machines- in other words untainted by the Utilitarian educational system Like the Speaker, the children are being depersonalised by their teachers as they are referred to by number. Gradgrind calls Sissy “Girl Number 20” even when he knows her name.
In questioning Sissy about her Father’s job, Gradgrind ignores and dismisses the fact that her father actually works in the circus. Gradgrind, believing that this is not a decent job fit for society, instead elevates Cissy’s father’s job to, “A veterinary surgeon, a farrier, and horsebreaker. ” This may seem insignificant and in keeping with Gradgrind’s character but Dickens is expressing his belief in how the Utilitarians can be so hypocritical. Although the Utilitarian stand for nothing but “Fact”, Dickens shows how the Utilitarians twist the truth to fit their own ideals.
Although Bitzer is successful in answering Thomas Gradgrind’s “definition of a horse,” Dickens’ description makes it seem that it is Bitzer who is the victim. He is colourless, “the boy was so light-eyed and light-haired that the self-same rays appeared to draw out of him what little colour he ever possessed. ” The attention to colour is not only to single out Bitzer as the victim but also to hint at the blandness of his creativity. Notice in contrast that Cissy Jupe glows a “lustrous colour. ” Bitzer’s jarringly short sentences and his use of numbers and facts illustrate his mechanical, unemotional character.
‘Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. ‘ Again, his response is in contrast to Cissy Jupe who despite not providing the correct answer is more passionate about her love of flowers and horses. She expresses her opinion through emotion- “Fancy” which the Utilitarians are determined to stamp out. It must be pointed out however that Dickens is not arguing against education, science or progress. He is arguing against factory-style, mind-numbing, grad-grinding production.
But even worse than the loss of “fun” or “leisure,” Dickens is arguing that art requires an inquisitive mind. One that Thomas Gradgrind is suppressing as he repeatedly tells Sissy, “You mustn’t tell us about that here. ” Despite the context of the Industrial Revolution, Dickens believes there is no reason for children to be brainwashed with facts that will not give them the maturity and wisdom needed for a successful life. The effect that the Utilitarian teachers have on the children is summed up by the bewildered Sissy Jupe who “looked as if she were frightened by the matter-of-fact prospect the world afforded.
” In other words, their childish innocence and dreams of a better future are taken away from them to leave them resigned and bitter. It is in the above way that Charles Dickens expresses his dislike of the educational system. He uses a range of literary devices such as repetition for emphasis, allusion to illustrate his ideas and irony for humour but also to make the reader think. The use of false logic is an example of this: Dickens’ characters may argue about fanciful literature but he using it to craft his story.
His characters may be exaggerated but they are also entertaining: from the Speaker’s square personality and appearance to Bitzer whose life has been sucked out of him. I think Charles Dickens has been successful in expressing his point of view because the average reader begins to understand his ideas and reasons through the use of hyperbole even if it may be inaccurate. The evidence also lies in the positive literary and social criticism Dickens received in his own Victorian era from other prolific writers such as George Bernard Shaw and its influence in changing the social climate for the poor of Britain.
Dickens important beginning chapters make the reader agree with him when he said,”If you would reward honesty, if you would give encouragement to good, if you would stimulate the idle, eradicate evil, or correct what is bad, education — comprehensive liberal education — is the one thing needful, and the one effective end. “