This shows that Louisa’s imagination, although it has been supressed to the extent that is almost non-existent, is still there and just about managing to stay alight but eventually becomes negatively channeled into destructive thoughts, rather than being completely eliminated as her father had hoped. This constant referal to fire and it’s eventual consequences in “Down” is an illustration of the negative effect that Gradgrind has had on his daughter since she was little in trying to stiffle her emotions. Mr.
Gradgrind is quite unprepared for what Louisa has to say in “Down” and until her outburst had no idea of the harm he had caused his children in restricting their imaginations and emotions. Louisa then further drives in her point by saying that if she had been allowed to express herself “what a much better and much happier creature [she] should be today” at which point Gradgrind realises what he has done, and “after all his care, he bowed his head upon his hand and groaned aloud. ” This is the first moment that Gradgrind understands what he has done to his children.
Louisa’s language in her next speech makes her sound almost angry, although she has reassured her father that “[she] does not reproach [him]. ” When she speaks of her marriage to Mr. Bounderby, she repeats ‘h’ sounds in the phrase “… husband whom… I hate” which makes her sound a little angry and stormy like the weather outside, and the stormyness of her emotions at this moment in time. When Louisa finishes speaking about her upbringing, her Father is clearly upset, so when she says to him “… I am here with another object” he is shocked because he thought that she couldn’t possibly say anything worse to him.
Louisa reveals that she has met a “new acquaintance” and asks her father to “save [her] by some other means. ” This is because she doesn’t know how to save herself as a result of the way she has been brought up. This aqquaintance is Mr. James Harthouse. When he arrives in Chapter 2 of Book 2, he is immeadiately attracted to Louisa. He has had many opperunities to do things, but he has found all of them boring and Louisa is someone who he can’t work out straight away, so she makes him curious. We can tell that Harthouse is interested in Louisa because of the incredible detail in which he observes her.
“She was so constrained… so sensitively ashamed of her husband’s braggart humility… she baffled all penetration. ” He immeadiately sets about trying to “figure her out” and convinces Tom to show him the way back to the hotel, where he plies him with drink and gets him to reveal that Louisa “never cared for old Bounderby. ” This devious and immoral way of getting information makes Harthouse one of the “Bad” characters in the book; he is immoral and has no respect for feelings, but he is quite different to the other characters who the narrator promts a negative opinion of, for example Gradgrind.
In revealing the fact that Louisa hates Bounderby, and other things about his sister, Tom has made her easy for Harthouse to befriend, and the seriousness of this is reflected in the final paragraph of the Chapter: “If he had had any idea of what he had done that night… he might have gone down to the ill-smelling river… and have curtained his head forever with it’s filthy waters. ” This reflects morals aswell; Dickens’ narrator is criticising the way that Tom has treated, and betrayed his sister.
Harthouse is nice to Louisa, so she feels close to him. He is the first person to treat her as a human being, and one of the ways he draws her closer to him is by voicing his concerns about Tom and offering to help him. He knows how much she cares for Tom and abuses this fact: “I think Tom may be gradually falling into trouble, and I wish to stretch out a helping hand to him” He is also unhappy with the way Louisa is treated by Tom:”… of her unselfishness; of her sacrifice. The return he makes her, within my observation, is a very poor one.
” This wins Louisa over with Harthouse, but forces her to confront herself with what she probably already knew; She doesn’t want to accept the fact that Tom is using her, because he is the only person who she knows how to care for and love. Louisa becomes close to Harthouse, observed by Mrs. Sparsit. In the chapter “Mrs. Sparsit’s Staircase”, Mrs Sparsit’s view of social status as a staircase is revealed, and Louisa, by spending more and more time with Mr. Harthouse, is descending the imaginary staircase into a pit of despair at the bottom from which she would never be able to get out of.
By being with Harthouse, Louisa is, in Mrs Sparsit’s opinion, “… verging, like a weight in deep water, to the black gulf at the bottom” Although Louisa was tempted to run away with Harthouse, in “Down”, she runs to her father to save herself from the consequences of what could happen if she were to have an affair. This is because despite her upbringing, she is “innately good” and still understands the negative connotations that an affair would have upon her and possibly her family, and wants to prevent it.
This is also another example of the good morals that Gradgrind is trying to promote, in that Louisa resists temptation and does what is right. Finally at the end of “Down”, when Louisa is close to collapse, her father tries to support her, but she says “I shall die if you hold me! Let me fall upon the ground! ” Louisa needs to fall upon the ground because she has to learn how to deal with things by herself, which she has previously not been able to do. This is the result of Louisa’s “cursed life” and her “Gradgrind upbringing”; she is incapable of dealing with her emotions. Mr.
Gradgrind “saw the pride of his heart and the triumph of his system, lying, an insensible heap, at his feet. ” Louisa, to him, at this moment shows the failure of his system, and everything he has worked for. However, later in the novel, Mr. Gradgrind comes round to the idea that there is “A Wisdom of the heart” and this is also a kind of moral message in that problems can be resolved, and hope is not lost. “Down” is the chapter where Mr. Gradgrind realises the problem with his system. It also is the peak of the damage it has done to Louisa, where she cannot cope with her own emotions.
Louisa has become alienated not just from others and the ability to care for and love other human beings but also from herself. She does not know or understand herself, which is why she is unable to cope. This is the main impact that the Gradgrind system has had upon her; although Louisa is a young woman, she is still very childish in her lack of ability to think for herself and cope with her emotions.