One of the protagonists of this novel who is the first character we come across in the novel is Thomas Gradgrind, he was a retired hardware merchant of Coketown who believed that the most essential thing in education was facts; he thought that everything in life could be measured and weighed and his philosophy of life was very rational. Gradgrind has been sketched by Dickens as a strict, rigid and a very firm person; one who doesn’t mould easily and sticks to his rules and beliefs religiously this line “square coat, square legs, square shoulders,” all of which suggest Gradgrind's unrelenting rigidity.
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He believes on only the things that he can see there by diminishing every element of fantasy, faith, and feelings and he coaxes and drills into the minds of his students the very same. Thomas Gradgrind as we find him in the ending of the novel is very different from what he was presented as earlier, he discards his realistic philosophy and is a very changed man; a modest, unassuming and a lot wiser than he was before. This drastic change in his character is brought by when he realizes that his beliefs and way of teaching were wrong when Louisa confesses she’s unhappy with her marriage, and when he notices the problems his students are facing in life he feels sorrow and compassion for them and thus is a very changed man.
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