Background.

It being a part of Mrs Pipchin’s system not to encourage a child’s mind to develop and expand itself like a young flower, but to open it by force like an oyster.” is a quotation from Dombey and Son (Chapter 8).

Dombey and Son was Charles Dickens’s seventh novel, published between 1846 and 1848.

 

Context.

In the story Dombey and Son, the sickly younger Paul Dombey is sent to the seaside at Brighton for his health, where he and Florence lodge with the elderly Mrs Pipchin.

Taken from the following passage in Chapter 8 of Dombey and Son:

The breakfast next morning was like the tea over night, except that Mrs Pipchin took her roll instead of toast, and seemed a little more irate when it was over. Master Bitherstone read aloud to the rest a pedigree from Genesis (judiciously selected by Mrs Pipchin), getting over the names with the ease and clearness of a person tumbling up the treadmill. That done, Miss Pankey was borne away to be shampoo’d; and Master Bitherstone to have something else done to him with salt water, from which he always returned very blue and dejected. Paul and Florence went out in the meantime on the beach with Wickam—who was constantly in tears—and at about noon Mrs Pipchin presided over some Early Readings. It being a part of Mrs Pipchin’s system not to encourage a child’s mind to develop and expand itself like a young flower, but to open it by force like an oyster, the moral of these lessons was usually of a violent and stunning character: the hero—a naughty boy—seldom, in the mildest catastrophe, being finished off anything less than a lion, or a bear.

 

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