Bounderby, thirty years her senior, asks her father for Louisa’s hand in marriage. Does he love her? Does she love him? Does love matter, to a factual father, who ‘might have seen one wavering moment in her, when she was impelled to throw herself upon his breast, and give him the pent-up confidences of her heart. But, to see it, he must have overleaped at a bound the artificial barriers he had for many years been erecting, between himself and all those subtle essences of humanity….’
For matters of the heart, he resorts to facts. First in love: “It is not unimportant to take into account the statistics of marriage [blah blah blah]….” Then in life: “Father, I have often thought that life is very short.” To which he responds, “It is short, no doubt, my dear. Still, the average duration of human life is proved to have increased of late years. The calculations of various life assurance and annuity offices, among other figures which cannot go wrong, have established the fact.” “I speak of my own life, father.” “O indeed?”
Which makes you wonder. If Gradgrind misunderstands his daughter’s life and love, how does he represent his constituency as its Member of Parliament?