How does Dickens develop and shape our responses to characters through direct speech?
• He talks at people, not with them, preventing Gradgrind from speaking using phrases like, “Hear me out…” and “Refrain from cutting in.”
• Bounderby keeps referring to himself in third person (self-mythologising), e.g. “Josiah Bounderby of Coketown knowing what he knows of him.”
• He’s a hypocrite – he tells Stephen Blackpool to stay with his wife “for better, for worse”, yet he leaves Louisa. He calls Gradgrind inconstant, perhaps rightly, but without recognising his own inconstancy.
• He repeats his refrain about “turtle soup and venison”, showing how closed his mind is – he accuses Louisa, and anyone else he doesn’t like or understand, of wanting these luxuries.
• He says he’s clear-spoken (“That’s plain speaking, I hope”) but in fact he’s periphrastic.
• Dickens’ description makes him ridiculous, “Crimson and swelled… his hair like a hayfield.” Wind imagery (“blusterous”) reflects the round-about nature and force of Bounderby’s speech.
• Bounderby’s forcefulness is further shown by his repeated use of imperatives: “I shall tell him my mind… I shall understand… you’ll take charge.”
• He is quiet and allows Bounderby to dominate, a contrast from the start of the novel with his elaborate speech in the schoolroom. “The less we say tonight the better, I think.”
• Using language of the heart – showing compassion in his language – “who understands her and in whom she trusts.”
• He has clearly lost respect for Bounderby but remains polite, not stooping to the same level as Bounderby despite his emotion.
• Gradgrind recognises his own errors – he admits he has made mistakes, e.g. “And [there’s an incompatibility in] almost all the relations in which I have placed her.” The “almost all” is due to Sissy: perhaps adopting her was an early sign that he is capable of redemption.
• At the start of...