Dickens’ treatment

Both stories are of two schoolmasters who seem to enjoy inflicting pain of some sort to their pupil, whether it is verbal or physical. The names of the schoolmasters, Gradgrind and Creakle, suggest association with unpleasantness, such as the belief in hard labour. The name Gradgrind contains the word grind, which is related to pain and hard work therefore emphasises the spitefulness of such a man. The alliteration of the letter ‘G’, which is a hard letter, is found throughout the passage. This gives a sense of his presence continuously around and that his unpleasantness is remembered by everyone because of this permanent attendance.

The name Creakle suggests old age and the onomatopoeia, of his name ‘creak’, stresses this idea of old age. Creaking again implies how terrifying he is as when an old house creaks it becomes a frightening place to be in. This is also seen in his presence as he scares the children due to him being around them; it also proposes that Creakle has not forgotten a previous regime in which he was under and that he believes that all children should be under this regime as well. Of the places in which both are found their surroundings are similar to their appearances and ideas.

The area in which Creakle is shown is described to be ‘forlorn’, ‘desolate’ and ‘dirty’. He also owns ‘A bird in a cage’ this represents the trapping of his students and how going into his class is like being caged therefore resembling the pupils as animals. Gradgrind is also depicted via his appearance as the ‘plain’, ‘bare’, ‘monotonous’ schoolroom mirrors his personality. His want for ‘only facts’ allows one to see how his dislikes any variation and thus keeps his vicinity to an original and bare state.

The narrator illustrates Gradgrind more than Creakle this allows one to realise what is meant by ‘monotonous’, as the narrator reiterates ‘The emphasis was helped by’ and ‘square’. This shows how boring and tedious Gradgrind was and that the narrator was able to copy the way in which Gradgrind acts to portray him for the reader. The word ‘square’ furthermore helps to reveal Gradgrind’s personality as the word ‘square’ normally is used to define how tedious and rigid someone is.

In addition his invariant ways somehow puts forward the reason why the repetition of ‘Facts’ is used, as he desires to only reach high standards. In the passage ‘weigh and measure’ is used to indicate that he does not care for anything apart from numbers, which defines his want for ‘Facts’. Not only are the things that they do and their surroundings sound threatening but also the names of the chapters are aggressive,’ Murdering the Innocents,’ this again contributes to sadistic sounding of the teachers.

The narrator implies that Creakle is in fact a drunkard by telling the reader that he has a ‘tumbler and bottle beside him’. His physical appearance hints that he is a drunkard and is constantly angry. The word ‘awful’ is used to explain him, yet there is subtle hint that Creakle’s anticipation contained in the word ‘awful’ in fact renders the point of him being actually awe-ful. Creakle’s personality is seen by people as ‘awful’ however he believes he is awful to provide the ability of him becoming awe-ful and therefore allows him to be respected.

Gradgrind sees children as ‘little pitchers’; the understanding of this is that he perceives them as merely objects to be filled with knowledge and ‘Facts’. This backs up the point of the word ‘grind’; as to fill the ‘little pitchers’ with ‘Facts’ he would have to work hard and the children would have to also go through hard labour. The violence of Gradgrind’s wish was that to ‘blow them clean out of the regions of childhood’; therefore to fill them with facts would be to aid them away from childhood.

Gradgrind wanted all the pupils at the school to become ‘models’ such as his own children; he had been able to teach his children in his dry and unimaginative style since their ‘tenderest years’ and this is how he wanted all children to be. The narrator repeats the words ‘models’ and ‘lectured at’; these repetitions are of disgust and negativity towards the ‘little Gradgrind’, which also recur in this part of the book. This is due to the ‘little Gradgrind’ never having the knowledge of childhood and this negativity may be due to the narrator feeling sorry for them and angry with Gradgrind because of his behaviour to them.

Creakle’s way of teaching is that he speaks in a whisper; this could be to make him come across as more sinister than he already has emerged. It also speaks of Creakle’s ‘ferocious games’ this again increases his sadistic appearance and that he scares the children into learning or following his instructions. He is also described of being ‘fiery’, this aids the point in which is said that he scares his pupils into learning, ‘bent his eyes upon me, as if he would have burnt me up with them.

‘ This gives the imagery that Creakle has dark and evil thoughts and threatens to use them on people. The second-hand description of Creakle is that in fact his anger is due to his earlier failure in life and ‘that he knew nothing him-self, but the art of slashing, being ignorant than the lowest boy in the school;’ this softens the depiction of Creakle and his sinister personality given by David Copperfield. Another thing is that Creakle is may be a sadistic coward as there is schoolboy that he would never touch, this boy being J. Steerforth.

There is no real answer given why, but Steerforth sounds as being a lot stronger and even more sadistic than Creakle, ‘he would commence by knocking him down with a blow to the forehead from the seven-and-sixpenny ink-bottle. ‘ The ‘little Gradgrinds’ have a lack of playing; they have been given multiple ‘little cabinets’, which contain different departments of sciences. They are not allowed to ‘grasp’ at anything that may be childish. Again these ‘little cabinets’ are repeated to give the monotonous feeling of their father and how he is so cruel to deprive them of these typical children lifestyles.

As Creakle does not have any children, all of his cruelty is focused on the pupils of the school. He again is portrayed, this time as a ‘Giant… surveying captives. ‘ This shows that he traps the pupils at the school and torments them with his power. He makes the children a manifestation by treating them as animals, he threaten them by saying that if you are famous for biting, then so was he and he bit with his cane! The effect of Creakle’s presence on the boys was so that they became afraid, as ‘half the establishment was writhing and crying, before the day’s work begun; and how much of it had withered and cried by the day’s work was over’.

This shows that Creakle is in fact a despicable person to the children and that cruelty was immense. At the end of this part of the extract the narrator avoids exaggeration of the actions, so awful was the viciousness that Creakle uses. The way in which Gradgrind tells off his children is of a monotonous way, as is everything that he seems to do, again we see the repetition this implies that Gradgrind is continuously boring. Gradgrind’s lack of ability to see the potential of his children is shown, as ‘he saw nothing of it. ‘

However the difference between Gradgrind and Creakle is that in fact Gradgrind believes in education and that the kind of education he believes in is one that people find hard to understand. Gradgrind, although comes across as an aggressor, he also appears that he is sincere in the desires for his pupils improvement in education. Creakle however is not so much interested in the education but in fact in humiliating his pupils. Creakle incessantly inflicts pain on his pupils by teasing them, as he normally teases the fatter children; they are also put in unpleasant overtones to make the insults even more degrading.

Overall Gradgrind is a much more pleasant person than Creakle, the only problem is that his teaching methods are greatly unappealing and this suggests that he is an unkind and monotonous teacher. He wants what is best for his children and this is why he refuses to allow his children to come into contact with childish things. All he wants for them is to succeed in life and become successful. The only person who Creakle cares about is himself and this why he spends his time insulting the children of his school as does not care for their welfare.

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