How does Dickens vividly portray Louisa and Mr Gradgrind’s relationship?
This scene shows Mr Gradgrind and Louisa deliberating over Mr Bounderby’s proposal to Louisa. Mr Gradgrind is in favour of the marriage however, Louisa does not want to marry him. In this dialogue, Dickens shows the reader the respect Louisa has for her father; how Gradgrind’s philosophy has inhibited his ability to properly care for his daughter, and the extent of Gradgrind’s control over Louisa.
Louisa eventually marries Mr Bounderby, much to the delight of her father who sees that “there is a great suitability”. She does this out of respect for familial duty which involves pleasing her father. Louisa continually asks her father for advice, “What would you advise”, “do you recommend”, “shall I”, as she wants to gain a comprehensive understanding of her father’s wishes and then to act accordingly. However, her intuitive nature could be seen as Louisa questioning her father’s authority and knowledge in a matter with such prevalence of lover: “still pursued the question”, this verb has connotations of an attack on something, in this case her father’s position of the proposal. The way she interrupts her father illustrates her acknowledgement of a weakness in her father’s logic, in this case the question of who should love whom and how to love them.
While Louisa respects her father, seen by the repeated title of “Father” she gives him, Mr Gradgrind cannot and so does not show much affection to Louisa. He tries to show some care by addressing her by the affectionate name “dear”, but Dickens later explains how perhaps Gradgrind might have noticed the stored-up emotions in Louisa, but his matter of fact utilitarian ideology, deters Louisa from displaying her true emotions. However, she also doesn’t know how to express due the “artificial barriers” and dependence of Facts she has inherited from her father.
The Gradgrinds are a typical Victorian family, where marriage is often arranged by the parents. Mr Gradgrind’s was also arranged which he tries to explain to Louisa “the case of your mother and myself was stated in its time”, and the “practical minds” of his family controlled his marriage, of whom he now considers himself to be a part of. Louisa only knows the upper class of Coketown, she complains to her father about not interacting with people who are unlike Bounderby and Gradgrind.
Therefore, Dickens uses Louisa’s inquisitive nature to show respect for her father’s wishes and to highlight a certain rebellion within her. The respect consequentially distances the relationship between father and daughter, and is further strained by Gradgrind’s factual nature.