Hard Times: Book 1 Chapter 3 - Summary & Analysis

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A Loophole


      Gradgrind has established this school to educate children with fects. After introducing new schoolmaster to the students, Gradgrind goes to his home. He has five children and Gradgrind is proud of it. He is fully assured that he is bringing up his children in accordance to his principles of education. In the beginning Gradgrind was a wholesale hardware merchant but now he has given it up and has built a home for himself and his family outside Coketown. His house is famous by the name ‘Stone Lodge’. Gradgrind, has an ambition to be the member of Parliament.

      Gradgrind is on his way to home, very satisfied and optimistic. In his own view he is a very loving and affectionate father but he likes to describe himself as an eminently practical father. He feels proud of this phrase “eminently practical” that he applies to himself. When Gradgrind reaches the outskirts of the town, he hears sounds of music, the banging of band attached to the horse-riding establishment. This establishment is of a circus belonging to a man, Sleary. Passing behind the booth, he gets severe shock to see his own children Tom and Louisa peeping through the canvas wall. Gradgrind interrogates his children what they are doing here. Louisa defiantly says that she wanted to see what the circus is like and she admits that she has brought Thomas with her. Gradgrind says that he is displeased and sorry to see her behavior in this manner but she expresses no regret. She says that she has been feeling bored for a long time. Thereupon Gradgrind says that her act has been most disappointing and he does not know about the response of Mr. Bounderby when he would come to know this incident.

      Here also author’s object of satire is Gradgrind. His children have never seen a face in the moon, they do not know even about the nursery rhyme: “Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wander what you are.

Critical Analysis

      The whole chapter is profused with satirical humor and again Gradgrind is subjected to satire. He wants to make all the children of his model school full of facts and he is very pleased to find all his five children, model children. He always prevents the development of imagination and wonder. His children have never seen even a face in the moon or are never allowed to learn any nonsense nursery rhyme like: Twinkle twinkle little star; How I wonder what you are.

      Even Gradgrind’s house is described in satirical manner. It is a “great square house, a calculated, balanced and proved house, with six windows on this side of the door and six on that side, and a total of twelve in this wing and a total of twelve in other wing”.

      Circus or its musical band never make Grandgrind to take least interest. He is stunned to find his two children peeping through the canvas wall of circus, tie scolds them for what they have done. He repeats at fixed intervals, “What would Mr. Bounderby say”? This makes the reader smile.

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