Book 1, Chapter 3 Summary

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Last Updated on January 12, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 228

Mr. Gradgrind is walking home, thinking about his intention to make his school and pupils perfect models of education. His own five children have been trained on facts for their whole lives, never being allowed to indulge in nursery rhymes or stories or imagination. Even their home, Stone Lodge, is a matter-of-fact place, perfectly symmetrical and meticulously designed in all ways. The children have full access to carefully arranged cabinets of scientific specimens and experiments.

Mr. Gradgrind considers himself an affectionate father but especially “an eminently practical” man, and everyone agrees with that description. As he is walking home, he notices the noisy, chaotic spectacle of “Sleary’s Horse-Riding,” a circus show with fantastic acts and characters, including Sissy’s father, Signor Jupe, and his performing dog, Merrylegs. Mr. Gradgrind would have walked right past, but he is shocked to see two of his own children, Louisa and Thomas, peeking through holes to catch a glimpse of the show. Horrified at this event, Mr. Gradgrind scolds his children for folly and idleness. They should be focusing on facts as they have been trained. Louisa, who is fifteen or sixteen years old, tells her father that she brought Thomas to the show. She is tired of everything, she says, and is not repentant. Mr. Gradgrind asks his daughter what Mr. Bounderby would say if he knew of this offense.

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