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, Charles Dickens, whose popular novel Oliver Twist had just been publish ed, took a trip to Manchester, a city in northwest England. It was a trip that w as to change his life and result in one of his most bitter and controversial nov els, Hard Times. In Manchester, Dickens was taken to see cotton mills typical of those that had s prung up in northern England as a result of the Industrial Revolution. The inven tion of the steam engine in the late eighteenth century was a major force behind this "revolution." Power became accessible and inexpensive, and factories boome d with production. There was a darker side to this teeming productivity, however. The methods of or ganizing the workers for maximum efficiency often led to miserable working condi tions; long hours, hard work, dangerous machinery. Young children were often put to work, despite laws that were meant to prevent the abuse of minors. Workers w ere housed in slums with filthy sanitation. Factories poured poisonous smoke int o the atmosphere, darkening the skies and threatening the health of anyone who l ived in the town. Laws were passed that offered some protection to these workers, but factory owne rs often disregarded them, and the laws were difficult to enforce. So the danger ous machinery and poor sanitation continued, and many owners felt they had no re sponsibility to their employees except to pay them wages that were established b y the laws of supply and demand. Prosperity, so said many in charge, depended on high profits and inexpensive labor. The basis for much of this abuse, according to writers such as Dickens and the S cots essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle (to whom Hard Times is dedicated), wa s the political philosophy of Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism had its roots in th e laissez-faire doctrine of the Scots economist Adam Smith, expressed in his boo k The Wealth of Nations (1776). Laissez-faire means, in the original French, "le ave alone," and Smith's book detailed his opposition to governmental interferenc e in the economy of a nation. Smith's ideas were elaborated by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham, the fou nder of Utilitarianism, and then further developed by the English economist and philosopher John Stuart Mill. In simple terms, the Utilitarians sought "the grea test happiness for the greatest number"--in other words, whatever was correct fo r the majority, particularly in regard to economic profit, was thought to be cor rect for everyone. The Utilitarians brought about important social reforms. Yet, as Dickens and others pointed out, Utilitarianism was subject to abuse, par ticularly where the poor minority were concerned. In striving for greater profit s that would benefit the nation, management often exploited the workers, and pol iticians winked at their exploitation. In Hard Times, Gradgrind Sr. is portrayed as a strict Utilitarian, who practices his philosophy at home and in the school he governs. Like others of his kind, he sees little reality beyond profit and l oss. After visiting Manchester, Dickens wrote to a friend: "I went to Manchester and saw the worst cotton mill. And then I saw the best... There was no great differe nce between them." The workers made a lasting impression on Dickens. He wrote: " ...what I have seen has disgusted me and astonished me beyond all measure. I mea n to strike the heaviest blow in my power for these unfortunate creatures."

For Dickens, striking the "heaviest blow" meant using his pen. Few writers have ever been so popular in their lifetimes. His work combines elements of hilarious and thrilling entertainment with sharp condemnations of society, and many reade rs believe he blended these elements more skillfully than any other novelist in the English language--before or since. Born in Portsmouth, England, in 1812, he was the son of John Dickens, a clerk fo r the Navy. The elder Dickens, who later moved his family to London, was known a s a warm-hearted, generous man, who, however, often found himself broke. (In the novel David Copperfield, Dickens offers a fictionalized portrait of John Dicken s in the character of the lovable but irresponsible Mr. Micawber.) John Dickens's free-spending ways resulted in two traumatic incidents for young Charles. At the age of twelve, when his family's finances slipped badly, Dickens was forced to work in a blacking factory (which manufactured boot blacking or s hoe polish). Dickens was devastated! He felt abandoned and discarded by his fami ly. The lofty ambitions to become a man of learning crumbled. Throughout his lif e he refused to discuss the experience with anyone but vowed he would never agai n have to endure such hardship. His wife and children never knew until after his death that he had worked in a factory as a child. The terror and anger this incident caused found its way into several of Dickens' s novels as he created many children orphaned or abandoned by their parents: Jo in Bleak House, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby and his siste r Kate, Sissy Jupe in Hard Times, and others. While some accuse Dickens of often sentimentalizing these characters, others point to how those young people refle ct the deep sense of rejection he must have felt. The second traumatic incident occurred soon after Dickens left the blacking fact ory, when his father was arrested for debt and sent to prison. For three months Mrs. Dickens and her children lived there with him, allowed their freedom during the day, but locked in at night. Charles lived elsewhere, hating the confines o f the prison and embittered at the complicated laws that kept his father there. Little by little, Charles Dickens was developing the soul of a reformer. Life in a debtor's prison became the basis for one of his more complex and mature novel s, Little Dorrit. A change in his father's fortunes allowed Charles to return to school. He had al ways been precocious, reading hungrily whatever he could--newspapers, history, f airy tales, all of which influenced his later writing. A love of the theater ins pired him to create lively characters, suspense, comic high spirits, and excitem ent in his work. After leaving school, Dickens worked for a time as an office boy in a law firm, and then as a newspaper reporter, writing general news for one paper, reporting on the affairs of Parliament for another. It was through these jobs that Dickens developed a lifelong distrust of the law, a contempt that emerged in such novel s as Bleak House and Hard Times. He began to write short fictional sketches about London life and characters, usi ng the pen name "Boz." The broad appeal of these sketches led one editor to ask Dickens to try an experiment--to write a novel in serial form, several chapters per month. Novels were usually published in three volumes, making them expensive for the average person. Publishing them in a monthly magazine would make them m ore accessible and inexpensive. The result was The Pickwick Papers (1836-37), an immediate success. It may be di fficult to understand how the weekly installments of a book could create the fev er pitch of excitement that Pickwick did. But if you remember that, without tele

vision or movies, Victorians turned to books for their entertainment, you might understand that they awaited the next installment just as eagerly as you may loo k forward to a new episode of your favorite television show. "Boz" was the toast of London, and everyone wanted to know who he was. Dickens soon dropped his pen name as he continued to write serials, sometimes be ginning one at the same time he was writing another. And while Pickwick Papers i s a comic romp through the towns and countryside of England, the later novels be gan to explore some of the murkier aspects of big city life in the nineteenth ce ntury. Oliver Twist (1837-38) examines the plight of the poor who lurked in Lond on's underworld. Nicholas Nickleby (1838-39) deals in part with the abuses of sc hools that mistreated and victimized their students. Bleak House (1852-53) looks at the weighty and impossibly complicated affairs of the court system. Yet if Dickens had been nothing more than a moralizing social critic, it's unlik ely that his works would be read and enjoyed today. He was, first and foremost, one of the supreme entertainers in literary history. His books have intricate pl ots, memorable characters, brilliant comedy, intense emotion. But Dickens, despi te his popularity, was constantly afraid of losing his public. If the sale of a magazine that contained one of his serials began to drop, Dickens might alter th e plot in some way to bring people back. That he was able to combine popular app eal with literary genius (second only to Shakespeare, according to many) is a te stament to his incredible skill. Unfortunately, Dickens's personal life did not always match the success of his w riting career. At the time he was writing The Pickwick Papers (1836) he married Catherine Hogarth, the daughter of one of his editors. For a time the marriage w as quite happy, and Catherine eventually bore him ten children. But as the years passed, Dickens began to find his wife lazy, clumsy, socially inept--not at all the kind of wife he felt a man of his stature deserved. There are those who feel that Dickens so idealized Catherine's sister Mary (whos e death at seventeen devastated Dickens) that no one could hope to compare with her. This worship of the ideal woman can be seen in many of Dickens's female cha racters: Agnes Wickfield in David Copperfield, Esther in Bleak House, Little Nel l in The Old Curiosity Shop, Kate Nickleby in Nicholas Nickleby, Sissy Jupe in H ard Times, and others. Some readers feel that this need to put certain women on a pedestal prevented his female characters from attaining the depth and complexi ty of their male counterparts. Dickens's vanity grew with his success, and he began more and more to see Cather ine critically. The couple began to separate, first emotionally, and then litera lly. You'll see in Hard Times how his frustration at the divorce laws found its way into that novel. Dickens began to see a young actress, Ellen Ternan, who at eighteen was young en ough to be his daughter. He loved her deeply, and she was at his side when he di ed. Dickens's writing skills and his social conscience merged when he began a weekly periodical in 1850. He invited many of his friends to contribute history, ficti on, reviews, and essays that portrayed social matters. The purpose of the period ical was "to cherish the light of Fancy which is inherent in the human heart." ( Remember this phrase as you read Hard Times.) Each issue (or number) of the magazine, called Household Words, dealt with a soc ial problem: government aid for education, alcoholism, illiteracy, factory accid ents, industrial schools. These articles often championed radical ideas, and the y were so skillfully blended with entertainment that the magazine was an enormou s success. Pioneers in sanitary and housing reform gave Dickens much credit for

bringing their causes to the general public. It was at a time when sales of Household Words were low that Dickens decided to write a weekly serial that would match the popularity of some of his earlier wor ks. Since his previous novels had been written in monthly numbers, the task of w riting weekly episodes was exhausting. Yet he was spurred by the challenge of wr iting about the horrors of the Industrial Revolution that had so shocked him in Manchester fifteen years before. In this way Hard Times was born and helped the magazine's popularity considerably. Dickens said at the time that the purpose of the novel was not to create social unrest, but to foster understanding between management and labor. Hard Times has not enjoyed the critical success of such Dickens's masterpieces a s David Copperfield (1849-50) and Great Expectations (1860-61). Some readers hav e charged that it does not explore factory life with the same perceptive detail with which he exposed the courts in Bleak House. (And it is strange that, for al l of the talk of worker hardship in Hard Times, Dickens never takes us within th e factories themselves.) Some readers even point to the Stephen Blackpool sequen ces as melodramatic and unbelievable. The novel does have its champions; some regard Hard Times as one of his finest w orks of satire. They cite its economy (it is one of Dickens's shortest novels), its passion, and its prophetic portrait of social ills in their praise of the bo ok. As always, Dickens tells a wonderful story, one with suspense, humor, deeply felt emotion, and tenderness. Dickens the entertainer is never blotted out by D ickens the reformer. How successful was Hard Times as a document of radical social change? It's often impossible to gauge the exact influence a book has on a culture, since its effe cts materialize slowly. And Dickens was not the only writer pointing to the hide ous results of industrialization. (Elizabeth Gaskell, another novelist and a fri end of Dickens, wrote about similar topics in such books as North and South.) Ye t his immense readership guaranteed that the public would become aware of the pl ight of the factory workers in greater numbers than could be reached by any news paper. By the 1890s, conditions for the workers had improved somewhat, thanks largely t o the workers themselves, who formed trade unions that forced reforms on employe rs. Even though Dickens criticizes the unions in Hard Times, he would have been the first to applaud these reforms. Such passionate social critics as George Ber nard Shaw acclaimed Dickens as a supreme influence on the betterment of English society. (He thought Dickens's novel Little Dorrit was as radical and rebellious a work as Karl Marx's Das Kapital.) In 1858, Dickens began to give a series of public readings from his own work. He was a marvelous performer, as popular onstage as he was in print. But the exhau sting performances damaged his health, which declined seriously over the next fe w years. Despite illness he took a trip to America. He had been there years before, and a resulting book, American Notes (1842), made some Americans furious at the way D ickens had portrayed them. But during this visit in 1867, he was greeted with a frenzy we might reserve for a rock star today. Dickens returned to England in extremely poor health. He died of a paralytic str oke on June 9, 1870. At the time, he was writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood, whi ch he never finished. Even if you've never read a Dickens novel, it's likely that you know his work an yway. Countless movies, television shows, musicals, and plays have been based on

his work. Scarcely a Christmas season goes by without a new version of A Christ mas Carol (1843). So you may "know" Dickens without having read a word of his wr iting. But there's no substitute for his own words. No adaptation can do justice to his genius. Like all great writers, Dickens created worlds both recognizable and magical. Like Shakespeare, Dickens embraced all levels of society and inves ted each one with his own generous touch of humanity. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: THE PLOT Coketown is a grimy, smelly industrial town in northern England, its houses and skies blackened by smoke from factory chimneys. One of its leading citizens is T homas Gradgrind, future member of Parliament and governor of the local school. G radgrind lives with his wife and five children, including the eldest, Louisa, an d Tom, Jr. When we first see Gradgrind, he is observing a typical class in his school, taug ht by Mr. M'Choakumchild. Gradgrind lectures the teacher on the school's philoso phy: "Facts" are important, nothing else but facts. All else is "fancy"--sentime nt, imagination. Cecilia Jupe ("Sissy"), the daughter of an acrobatic rider and clown with a traveling troupe of performers, is asked to define a horse. She can 't, but Bitzer, an ambitious student, can. His answer is based entirely on fact. Gradgrind later spies Louisa and young Tom outside the horse-riding (circus) ten t, trying to catch a glimpse of the performers. Shocked at their interest in suc h frivolity, Gradgrind seeks the advice of his friend, Josiah Bounderby, a banke r and factory owner. They conclude that it must be Sissy Jupe's influence that i s responsible. They try to find her father, but discover that he's deserted Siss y to prevent her from seeing him lose his talents. Gradgrind offers to take care of Sissy by bringing her into his household, hoping that Louisa will see what h appens to someone who was raised on fancy, not fact. Sissy accepts his invitatio n. Bounderby objects to the arrangement. He has dragged himself up from poverty to a position of power and wealth. Treating the "lower classes" with such kindness is a mistake to him; these people are spoiled enough. Bounderby lives with his h ousekeeper, Mrs. Sparsit, a member of the faded aristocracy. She has lost her mo ney, but not her disdain for those she considers beneath her. Another resident of Coketown is Stephen Blackpool, a factory worker. Once happily married, Stephen is separated from his wife, a drunkard who wanders off for months at a time, only to return to shame him. Stephen is in love with Rachael, another worker, but the two of them can't marry because of divorce laws that favor the wealthy. For Stephen and Rachael, life is a "muddle." Gradgrind is elected to Parliament. It is decided that his son Tom should work a t Bounderby's bank and that his daughter Louisa should marry Bounderby. Louisa t ries to communicate to her father that the marriage would be a mistake, but Grad grind refuses to hear of anything that speaks of love or sentiment. Only Sissy, who discontinues her education because she is thought "unteachable," but who sta ys on in the Gradgrind household, understands Louisa's plight. But Louisa is too proud to accept Sissy's compassion. When the wedding takes place, only Tom Grad grind is truly happy, thinking his life at the Bounderby bank will be much easie r with his sister around to defend him. A year after the wedding, changes have taken place in Coketown. Mrs. Sparsit now lives in an apartment at the bank, where the sneaky Bitzer has become the messe nger. And a new person has come to town--James Harthouse, an aristocratic young man recruited by Gradgrind's political party.

Their every m ove is watched by Mrs. Louisa immediately suspects that Tom is responsible for the robbery. He offers Louisa shelter. She begs for her father's advice. who had sup posedly deserted him at an early age. Despite Bitzer's attempts to arrest Tom. Louisa offers him money. Mrs. True to their pact. Pegler. He makes plans to alleviate his own boredom by trying to win Louisa's affections. Tom runs awa y. only to lose her along the way. he is playing a silly down in one of the circus acts. she follows her. so Stephen sets off from Coketown. So is Mrs. but Tom has something else in mind. and he agrees to leave Louisa and Coketown behind. who comes to Coketown every year to watch Bounderby from afar. Sparsit will live unhappi . Soon after Stephen's departure. The characters go on to their respective futures. and because of a promise he's made to Rachael. The relationship between Harthouse and Louisa begins to intensify. he i Knowing that Stephen's death will point the finger of guilt at him. who eventually loses his job when loyalty to his co-workers prevents h im from denouncing them to Bounderby. to Sleary's circus. Sleary offers the final parting words of w isdom: people need amusement as much as they need work. but he is unrepentant. Rachael can't ded to her letter asking him to return. understand why he has not respon mystery is solved when Sissy and discover that Stephen has fallen he is brought from the pit. and Gradgrind find him there. Sissy. Gradgrind is shattered. the workers shun Stephen. She is going to her father's hom e. and he accurately senses that the Bounderby marriage is not a success. As Mrs. it's learned that the bank has been robbed. Faced with the failure of his "facts-only" p hilosophy. goes to Harthouse on he r own to persuade him to leave town. Mrs. Mrs. Sparsit is triumphant when she discover s Mrs. But the Rachael take a quiet walk in the country.Harthouse is immediately attracted to Louisa. now an important part of the Gradgrind household. Sinc e Stephen was seen lingering outside the bank. but he denies it. Stephen refuses to join the union because he's convinced it won't help their plight. After waiting fo r three evenings. which he refuses. Spar sit sees Louisa board a train. When s reunited briefly with Rachael before he dies. Bounderby is revealed as a fraud and a lia r. a power-hungry union organizer. They are led by Slackbridge. They into an abandoned mine and is near death. Pegler. and Gradgrind again must face a failed product of his philosophy. Sissy. which Stephen innocently does. Sparsit. a woman Stephen befriended. eager to prove the fact of adultery and to see t he Bounderby marriage crumble. But Louisa is not on her way to meet Harthouse. he is implicated in the crime. Meanwhile. The robbery still remains unsolved. the workers of Coketown are attempting to form a union to protect the ir rights. When Louisa. but the old woman turns out to be Bounderby's mother. nothing happens. The search for Stephen continues. Stephen is forced to leave town to look for work. and there she confesses to him that Harthouse is waiting to run away with her . Sparsit believes that Harthouse and Louisa are about to elope. He asks Stephen to linger for s everal evenings around the bank. Sleary helps the young culprit escape t o a port where he can sail to safety. He is powerless in the face of Sissy's mora l goodness. He feels no gu ilt for what he has done. on Sissy's advice.

She is often linked symbolically to fire: Dying embers represen t her fading hopes for happiness. Gradgrind is not beyond redemption. becomes a liar and a thief. She must be content with helping those less fortunate than she. SR. first to Ste phen Blackpool. Gradgrind becomes a member of Parliament during the course of the story. Bitzer's cold-hearted with her relative. Gradgrind practices what he preaches--to the letter. Gradgrind is a strict disciple of the philosophy of Utilitarianism that prizes h ard fact above all else. Louisa is fir st seen curiously peeking at the goings-on at the horse-riding performance. Their learning has been strictly scientific. BOUNDERBY) Daughter of Thomas Gradgrind and. she reaches out. Largely through the influence of Sissy Jupe and the trauma of Louisa's failed marriage. The novel charts Gradgrind's growing realization that his theories. A leading businessman of Coketown and governor of the school. Gradgrind will grow old. forced to escape the law in disguise. later. They continue to be exploited from eve ry side. free from the "corruptin g" influence of poetry. a ccording to Dickens. he is a wiser and better man. but his children have been raised by its laws. Louisa has always masked her emotions under a cool and passive facade. Nothing in her previous education has prepared her to handle her emerging passio ns." ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: THOMAS GRADGRIND.. a much older man. and Louisa's emotional br eakdown. Instinctively seeking romance and laughter wh en all she has known are theory and statistics. He is married and the fat her of five. or song. Bounderby will die of a fit. Gradgrind grows in wisdom and experience. who represents the wisdom of the heart--a wisdom Louisa has never know n. A basically decent man (unlike Bounderby). Louisa is viewed by Dickens as a pathetic product of her father's philosophy. At first she cares only for her brother Tom. Not hing changes for the workers of Coketown. To m. Not only are his learning techniques taught in the school he governs. an oppressed factory worker. A repentant To m will die before he has a chance to return home. and the fires of Coketown chimneys that are fr equently hidden beneath smoke represent her inward passions. and then to James Harthouse. Pressed to the brink of madness by the temptation that Harthouse offers. Lady Scadgers. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: LOUISA GRADGRIND (MRS. but there is no such reward in store for Louisa.. helped by the friendship of Si ssy Jupe. By the end of the novel. Her humanity emerges gradually as the novel progresses. A marriage arran ged for profit and convenience between Louisa and Bounderby ends in disaster. Her action is symbolic of her yearning to experience more than the hard scientific f acts she has learned all her life. however. He pays f or his earlier insensitivity by seeing the harmful results of his philosophy: To m's life of crime. an arr ogant aristocrat who tries to seduce her. She saves herself from disgrace just in time. But a s the lovelessness of her marriage takes its toll. two of the major characters. including Louisa and Tom. Sissy will marry and have children. Rachael will continue to live in town. . when applied without the humane influence of the heart. alien ated from those who once shared his philosophy. Attractive and sensitive. occasionally helping a drunken wretch of a woman who shows up from time t o time. fairy tale. can be destructive. all of life still "a muddle. Anything not a fact is considered "fancy" or sentiment. Jr. wife to Josiah Bounderby. Louisa throws herself on her father's mercy. Jr. for his sake she marries Bounderby.

Sissy. She dedicates her life to helping those less fortun ate than she. Bounderby (whose name is British slang for "cad") is also the "Bully of humility . one who has been poorly educated and corrupted by the vulgar show folk who raised her. He suffe rs a dual humiliation when Louisa deserts him and Mrs. Pegler is his mother and that he has paid her to stay out of his life. Sissy confronts Harthouse wi th her ultimatum that he leave Coketown. his housekeeper. Drawn from a comic tradition that Dickens began with The Pickwick Papers. He begins and ends as a blustering. Bounderby is a one-dimensional character. Sparsit. but he is not as fully rendered a character as his friend Gradgrind. of this striking contrast tim e and again. as she lays dying. . But Sissy symbolizes the "Wisdom of the Heart" that has bee n sadly lacking among the Gradgrinds. mo re than any other character. including Mrs. Louisa's sister Jane is visibly happier than Louisa ever was as a child. such as Stephen Blackpool and Louisa. is powerful and real. Louisa begins as a passive. Sparsit. If Gradgrin d represents the Utilitarian philosophy in the novel. He is also highly embarrassed when it is discovered that Mrs." almost a cartoon. but is as real as any fact he ever learned. proves to Gradgrind that the wisdom of the heart is no myth. Sissy is taken into the Gradgrind household when her father deserts her. Bounderby is "flat. The delicious irony that this highbo rn lady should now work for him--who was born a pauper--is irresistible to Bound erby." a self-made man who endlessly repeats the story of his rise from poverty and childhood abuse to his current position of power. His greatest source of pride is Mrs. art objects--but he nonethel ess collects them avidly. Sparsit--the o ne person whose respect for him seemed unshakable--has long held him in contempt . beautiful furnishings. opinionated fool. and humane young woman. who never respects him as he t hinks he deserves. Gradgrind wonders. and he seems to have no inner life. To make matters worse.Louisa and Gradgrind's changes of character mark the greatest progression in the novel. he learns that Mrs. Pegler reveals that he ha s lied about his past. daydreaming girl and ends as a mature. Bounderby symbolizes the g reedy capitalist. her positive influence i s felt. He claims to loathe the trappi ngs of wealth--a grand home. He learns nothing from his trials. Sissy is awarded the Victorian ideal of true happiness--a husband and children. He reminds everyone. a woman of high s tation brought low by a bad early marriage. She comforts Rachael and helps find Ste phen. gener ous. She offers Louisa the healing balm of friendship to bring her from the brink of emotional breakdown. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CECILIA JUPE ("SISSY") Daughter of a horse-riding acrobat and clown at Sleary's traveling circus. Sissy is treated by Gradgrind and Bounderby as a bad influence on the Gradgr ind children. Sissy becomes a dominant force in the novel. and even the self-pitying Mrs. From the fir st. shockingly insensitive to the needs of workers. what has b een missing from their lives. Little by little. His effect on other characters in the bo ok. When Louisa leaves her husband and returns to her childhood home. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: JOSIAH BOUNDERBY A powerful citizen of Coketown. Bounderby owns a factory and a bank. Bounderby is shattered by his marriage to Louisa. And she provides Tom with a means of escape via Sleary's circus.

too contrived to be a successful fictional creation. All the while. a decision that ca uses him to be shunned by his fellow workers and ultimately fired. and k ind. Mrs. and insensitive. self-centered. But Stephen is also burdene d by circumstances that greatly add to his misery. (TOM) Tom represents another dismal product of the Gradgrind philosophy of education. While Stephen Blackpool's surname suggests the waters clouded by industrial wast e. and she needs him to remind the world of her lofty past. She frequently reminds Bounderby of Louisa's weaknesses as a wife and begins an organized and obsessive effort t o prove that Louisa and Harthouse are about to run away together. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: MRS. Bounderby's housekeeper an d then as his tenant in rooms at the bank. she praises Bounderby to his face and calls him a "noodle" behind his back. His subsequent death makes him a helpless victim of a social system that abuses and exploits the working man. Her relationship with Bounderby ends with hostility and ill-bred name-calling. Sparsit was brought low when her young husband waste d a fortune and died. Some readers see Stephen as a pathetic. Others regard him as an obvious symbol. Mrs. He symbolizes all the oppressed workers of the town as he toils long hours for little pay and lives in impoverished conditions. even tragic figure. Mrs. His wife became a drunkard an d a public disgrace some years ago. he knows in his he art there is nothing he can do to improve his desperate situation. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: STEPHEN BLACKPOOL A forty-year-old factory worker. Sparsit (the "sparse" of her name suggesting the scantiness or meagerness o f her character) represents the faded aristocracy so hated by Dickens for its la ziness. he is on his way back to Coketown to clear himself of a false accusation of crime when he falls into the shaft of an abandoned mine. and disregard for those less fortunate. hardworking. And she is reduced to embarrassment and misery when she unwittingly is instrumental in revealing Bounderby as a lia r and a fraud. When Bounderby marries Louisa. his first name suggests St. smugness. Stephen Blackpool is honest. in spite of his having paid her to stay away. Sparsit is forced to watch the world go by f rom her window. As you read you'll have to come to your own assessment of him. SPARSIT Once a lady of wealth. she painstakingly keeps the jar of n ine-oils to soothe his bruises should he ever return. Known for her Coriolanian (Roman st yle) nose and dark eyebrows. Stephen. Whatever opinion is held of Stephen.Although never sure her father still lives. but frequent visits to the Bounderby home provide her with plent y of opportunity to practice her busybody ways. She and Bounderby enjoy a symbiotic r elationship: he needs her to give him impressive credentials. it is generally agreed that his catchphrase for the confused unhappiness of lif e--"It's a muddle"--is one of the novel's most memorable lines. Eager to prove herself correct about Louisa. Rachael. She returns from time to time. He sees his s . Even thou gh passing thoughts sometimes tempt Stephen to kill his wife. From the very first he is selfish. leaving her penniless. The divorce laws prevent St ephen from ridding himself of her and marrying his true love. the first Christian martyr. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: THOMAS GRADGRIND. After having left town to find work. she is first seen as Mr. JR. Mrs. Stephen also refuses to join the workers' union on principle. tattered and dirty. Sparsit is shattered by Louisa 's decision to return to the Gradgrind home.

complexion. Tom is also ea sily swayed by the trappings of Harthouse's wealth. Cynical and amoral. Rachael continues her care of the woman after Ste phen's death. paid by him to stay out of his life. Sleary is kindhearted and ge nerous. Bitze r later becomes a porter at Bounderby's bank. SLEARY Owner of Sleary's Horse-riding. Like her Biblical counte rpart. But Tom is unrepentant. For a time she is implicated in the robbery because she ha s been seen with Stephen. pati ent. One philosophy is as good as the next as far as he's concerned. His only nod to goodness comes w hen he faces Sissy and decides to leave town at her request. and long-suffering. an innocent man. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: JAMES HARTHOUSE An aristocrat who comes to Coketown to enter politics for Gradgrind's Hard Fact party. offering the perfect factual definition of a horse. loving. He speaks with a lisp (the result of chronic asthma) and represents a ph . This swe et old woman is content to visit Coketown once a year and gaze at her successful son from a distance. Others argue that he is just a plot contrivance. His name ("hearthou se") is an ironic comment on his lack of compassion. drunk and abusive. Dickens characterizes him as a hypocrite an d a monster. Her name reminds us of the Biblical Rachel. Everything about him is so light--hair . The direct opposite of Sissy Jupe. would you agree or disagree? ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: RACHAEL A factory worker who is Stephen's best friend. eyes--that he is colorless. like the drifting iceberg that wrecks ships. he even r esents Louisa for telling the truth. Blackpool whenever that lady wanders into town. with little regard to what such a match might mean to Louisa. Tom shows no guilt about robbing the bank to pay his gambling debts and then implicating Stephen Blackpool. Rachael is selfless. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: MR. motivated not by love or passion. spies for Mrs. and she accepts her fate. Harthouse represents the jaded upper classes. and his lack of commitment has driven him from one lackluster career to the next. Tom 's actions indirectly lead to Stephen's death. but he is harmful nonetheles s. Sparsit only reveals the lie s Bounderby has been telling about his "cruel" childhood. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: MRS. and nearly catches Tom Gradgrind before his escape. coldhearted. a traveling circus. and ambitious. Rachael is in love with a man she can't marry. whom Jacob loved but had to wait many years before he could marry. Pegler is Bounderby's mother.ister's disastrous marriage to Bounderby as a means for an easier life for himse lf. but her "capture" by Mrs. and it is his willingness to talk freely to Harthouse about Louisa that clears the path for the older man to try to seduce her. Even worse. but out of bored om. Sparsit. How do you feel? What evidence can you offer in suppor t of your opinion? ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: BITZER You first see Bitzer in M'Choakumchild's classroom. he is the perfect pro duct of the Gradgrind philosophy--emotionless. Some have felt that Harthouse is a believable character. She compassionately helps the wretched Mrs. Harthou se sets out to seduce Louisa. What does such a description tell you? If someone suggested that Bitzer was pale because he had been drained of the co lors of humanity. He is not a villain in the sense that he sets out to do evil. PEGLER Mrs.

^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: MRS. he probably found the model for the union organizer Slackbridge in Preston. JUPE A horse-riding acrobat. the sun can't penetrate the grime in the air. turned to drink some years ago and sol d their possessions to support her habit. but she returns on drunken jags. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: MR." There he learned a wide variety of subjects but little a of teaching beyond stuffing the heads of his students with facts. but his presence is felt through Sissy's devotion to him. who deflate Bounde rby's pomposity early in the book. Jupe never appears in the book. to bring shame and disgrace on her husband. Blackpool. and each building looks tediously like the next. From a distanc e the town looks like a blur of smoke and dirt. and Sissy's father. Dickens trav eled to the mill town of Preston. H some of the worst abuses of the educational system. Slackbridge represent s those who would exploit the workers to satisfy their own need for power. M'Choakumchild is a recent graduate of an "factory. Dickens's images su ggest an urban jungle. Coketown represents a number of industrial towns in northern Engla nd--such as Manchester and Preston. For further research as he was beginning to write his novel. He is responsible for helping Tom escape from Bitzer's clutches to safe passage overseas. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: SETTING The action of Hard Times takes place in the city of Coketown and the surrounding countryside. "Serpents" of smoke rise from factory chimneys to clog th e skies with soot. M'CHOAKUMCHILD A teacher at educational bout the art e represents Gradgrind's model school. An unattractive and sour man. Stephen Blackpool's wife. Do you see Jupe's desertion of his daughter as an act of kindness or an act of c ruelty? ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHILDERS AND KIDDERMINSTER Childers and Kidderminster are performers in Sleary's circus. It was Dickens's visit to Manchester almost fifteen years before he wrote Hard Times that gave him the impetus to write the novel.ilosophy--"People must be amused"--that is the direct opposite of Gradgrindism. scene of a famous labor strike in 1853. who are consistentl . The atmosphere of Coketown is essential to the novel's mood. BLACKPOOL Mrs. Althou gh Dickens did not choose to dramatize a strike in Hard Times. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: SLACKBRIDGE Slackbridge is the union organizer who urges the workers to reject Stephen for r efusing to join their ranks. All the red brick build ings are blackened with soot. E ven on a sunny day. Stephen paid her to stay away. He deserts Sissy rather th an have her see him lose his agility. The steam engine has an "elephant's head" that monotonously l ifts up and down and fills the air with horrible sounds. The depressing surroundings take their toll on the citizens. Jupe is assumed dead when his dog Merryleg s returns alone to Sleary's circus. as well as prolonged emotional anguish. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: MR.

His philosophy is based on utilitar ianism. insists that people can't work and learn all the time--a n idea once odious to Gradgrind. he begins to wonder if the wisdom of the heart that othe rs have talked about really exists. As he sees the products of his philosophy shattered around him. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: THEMES Hard Times is a unified. "Coketown" has come to represent a term for such grimy towns throughout the world. unhappy people. Not all such towns had these unsanitary conditions or unspeakable working si tuations. The wisdom of the heart is embodied in Sissy Jupe. Bounderby. considered uneducable . Coketown offers them no other pleasure but their friendship. Gradgrind. Louisa and Tom a re so deprived of color and fun in their lives that the arrival of a traveling c ircus is a source of guilty pleasure for them. H is occasional exaggerations or inventions are done to prove a point. Closely related to this theme is man's need for "amusement. The themes are discussed throughout The Story section as they relate to the plot. although laws for pollution control have done a great deal to les sen their hazardous effects. a facto ry worker. parti cularly Louisa and Tom. THE WISDOM OF THE HEAD Gradgrind represents the wisdom of the head. The main characters are no less affected by their surroundings." or imagination. and Bitzer a re all humorless." in part because he and the other worker s are exploited from all sides. Mrs. and no sen se of imagination or fun is allowed to alleviate the tedium of the workaday worl d. Its themes often overlap as Dickens poin ts an accusing finger at a specific time and place: England during the time of t he Industrial Revolution. hard fac ts. Everything that isn't factual is considered "fancy. Their grim personalities are as much products of their environment as they themselves are victims of the philosophies that rul e their lives. not the literal truth. In fact. and few can deny that he achieves a remarkable portrait of an industrial city whose suffoca ting influence is never far from your mind as you read. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: MAJOR THEMES 1. Stephen Blackpool and Rachael are first seen together in the midst of a grimy rain. compact novel. which seeks to promote "the greatest happiness for the greatest number. No sunlight can penetrate the clouds. Sissy proves to him that it does. Stephen's life is "a muddle. and that profit is achieved by the pursuit of cold. some of whic h still exist. Simple. 2. Th . Their employer. Sparsit." Sleary. the owner o f the traveling circus.y woeful. Bounderby. including Gradgrind. But Dickens was working for a poetic reality. Some readers have pointed to minor inaccuracies in Dickens's portrayal of Coketo wn. and she sa lvages a great deal that might have been lost. thinks that their liv es are easy and that their complaints stem from selfishness and greed." The philosophy is based on scientific laws that dictate that nothing else is im portant but profit. They are listed here so that you may be aware of the m as you read. The dreariness of the town is symbolically liked to the philosophies t hat govern the citizens' lives. EXPLOITATION OF THE WORKING CLASS We see this theme worked out through the character of Stephen Blackpool. The utili tarians who run the schools and the government are interested only in profit. THE WISDOM OF THE HEART VS. Sissy brings goodness and purity to bear on many of the characters.

Sparsit and James Harthouse represent this theme. As governor of the school. Harthouse is revealed as cynical and directionless. THE ARROGANCE OF THE UPPER CLASSES Mrs. Rac hael and Stephen are loyal to one another over the years despite their inability to be married. The most touching example of loyalty is Merrylegs. This is demonstrated in Bounderby's pride over Mrs. who turns away from Lou isa. They are called by the reductive term "hands. St udents are taught according to what is factual and are ordered to avoid anything imaginative. and fiction--those elements that feed the heart and soul. even though he deserted her. Gradgrind. He treats his seduction of L ouisa as a diversion. They both remain loyal to Mrs. This corrupt society is more interested in productiv ity and profit than in the health and happiness of its citizens. substanda rd housing for the workers. Educato rs like Gradgrind see children as "empty vessels" to be filled to the brim with facts and statistics. Blackpool--he by enduring her pre sence. his devoted sister. THE FAILURE OF THE UTILITARIAN EDUCATION The opening scene in M'Choakumchild's classroom sets the tone for this theme. Those who prove to have no sense of loyalty include Tom. They never take into account the child's need for poetry. who leaves his master only after th e old man is dead. 3. who reject him when he won't join the union. smoke-filled cities and po lluted water.e union organizers are driven by power-hungry self-interest. Si ssy remains loyal to her father and his memory. dangerous factory machines. this theme is more all-encompa ssing. and th e ambitious sneak Bitzer. 5. wel l over a century has passed since Dickens the reformer wrote Hard Times. Mrs. The failure of this system is seen through Louisa and Tom Gradgrind. THE EFFECTS OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION Closely connected with the theme of exploitation. who turns against h is mentor. and in Tom's admiration for Harthouse's worldly ways. nameless individuals. and Rachael by caring for her--when she comes to town. These issues ar e still relevant today in different degrees in different parts of the world. song." because it is their working hands that are important to the employers--not their souls or brains or spirits. . and Bitzer. as well as the m ind. 4. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: MINOR THEMES LOYALTY: Examples of loyalty (and its absence) are seen throughout the novel. Sparsit clings fierc ely to her heritage and faded glamor. the workers are almost all faceless. At one point Stephe n indicates that the workers have bad leaders because only bad leaders are offer ed to them. dreadful working conditions. Bounderby. Gradgrind not only sets the policy of h ard facts but also practices it in the raising of his own five children. Sparsit's lofty back ground. Stephen's fellow worke rs. but som e of the abuses to which he called attention still linger. who shuns his mother. A related minor theme is the worship of the upper classes by those of the middle class. without thinking of the consequences of his actions. Jupe's dog. Throughout the novel. in his acquisition of the trappings of wealth (despite his apparent disd ain for them). It reveals the abuses of a profit-hungry society that result in a variety of social disgraces: poor education of its children. She is haughty to those "beneath" her and despises the efforts of the workers to organize a union.

Other metaphors abound. spacious books with full descriptions. If he does get carried away. seems free from these bonds. time is compared to machinery. Metaphorically. but it underlin es the importance of the subject of the sentence--Stephen Blackpool--and provide s a very dramatic way to introduce him. from Louisa's identification with fire to Tom's depiction as a sad clown in one of the final scenes. Draw up a list of y our favorites. Gradgri nd is "a bundle of shawls". which for him are tightly wound.. Dickens can be frugal wi th his words. Only Sissy and her father are seen in a positive light. who follows the Golden Rule. Gradgrind and Bounde rby are imprisoned by their respective philosophies." Notice the repetition of such phrases as "The emphasis was help ed" and such words as "square. 4. All the ot hers reveal mistreatment or indifference: Gradgrind and his brood. an d is often imitated. On ly Sissy. Books provided the main source of entertainment for Victorians. Book the First.. Mrs. When simplicity is called for. And all the characters are shackled by a socie ty that cares less for them than it does for the "well-being" of the economy. (It begins "In the h ardest working part of Coketown. Coketown i s described as a jungle. Not only is this device highly descriptive. so readers liked to get their money's worth! Look at the second paragraph in Chapter 10. REPETITION Repeating words and phrases within a sentence or paragraph adds emphasis and mus icality to Dickens's prose (and makes it fun to read aloud). SYMBOLISM AND METAPHOR Hard Times is rich in symbolism. IMPRISONMENT: The theme of imprisonment works both literally and symbolically. but the words are rarely wasted. its smoke a series of serpents. ALLUSIONS . Gradgrind's hair is a "plantation of firs". Louisa is a prisoner of her father's educational principles."). and it is sh e alone who "escapes" to happiness by the novel's end. beginning "T he scene was. T he workers of Coketown are imprisoned by their jobs and their lives. which reveals itself in elaborate descript ions of people. Read carefully the second paragraph of Chapter 1 of Book the First. but also by the bonds of marriage. who sends his mother to a workhouse. since they have no other place to go to find work. 3. built of prepositional phrases and subordinate clauses that lead to the introduction o f Stephen Blackpool. complex sentences are common. Pegler. Here are some of its notable characteristics. Long. with "innumerable hor se-power. places. USE OF WORDS AND SENTENCE STRUCTURE Dickens had a great love of language. followed by examples from Hard Tim es. The entire paragraph is one sentence. and events. 2. remember that his readers were used t o long. and Bitzer. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: STYLE Dickens's distinctive style is one of the most admired in the English language. 1. Stephen is trapped in this way." This technique is typical of Dickens's style." Watch for Dickens's use of metaphors as you read.PARENT AND CHILD: Portraits of parents and their children figure significantly i n Hard Times. its steam engine an ele phant's head. Bounderby and Mrs.

The strength of this narrator also dictates how you are to feel about each chara cter. down to the last bit of advice he offers in the novel's final paragraph. "Where was the man. How do you feel about them? Do they contribute to your enjoyment of the book? 6. but it is saved from being completely depressing by its co mic moments (although there are fewer in this novel than in most of Dickens's wo rk). Dickens favors this third-person point-of-view in his novels." he chides the teacher in Chapter 2." Tom a "hypocrite. but others find them energizing and vivid. Some say he is a better writer when he is comic than when he is serious and sentimental. but t he ways in which the two performers deflate his pomposity enliven a gloomy scene . Chil ders. The tension is relieved by Sleary and his troupe. But Jupe is missing. and Kidderminster. 5. Dickens as narrator is selectively omniscient. M'Choakumchild. direct address to the audience (and to characters). This guide will help you to understand the most important ones. you may go for a lon g time without knowing what Tom is thinking. Thus the moral s he draws from his characters are very clear. Sparsit (before s he decides to undo Louisa). The lack of humor in the Stephen Blackpool scenes is one reason some readers fee l these parts of the book are less successful than others. This choice of when and how you ma y see into the minds of the characters gives the narrator a great deal of power over how he wants you to view the story.Dickens peppers his works with allusions to literature. cu rrent events. Book the First. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: POINT OF VIEW A great entertainer." The tension is high because Gradgrind and Bounderby have come to scold Jupe for bringing up so poorl y educated a daughter. . even by the pathetic Mrs.) With few exceptions (the first-person David Copperfield is one ). Dickens was a storyteller of the highest degree. Dickens relieves the tension by the comic jousting among Bounderby. mythology. (You saw in the style section how these devices work to pul l in the reader. There's no ambiguity for Dickens here. Hard Times can be a g rim and bitter novel. questions . you know from the start which characters engage his sympathies and which repel him. There are times when you might feel that Dickens is making a speech rather tha n writing a novel. Gradgrind with her total l ack of logic. the Bible. For example. RHETORICAL DEVICES Rhetorical devices are those which mirror techniques used in speech-making: excl amatory sentences. but then--for a brief moment or two --you'll be allowed entrance into Tom's mind. rather overdone. Most of his readers would be familiar with these allusions. and why did he not come back?" he wonders about Stephen Blackpool in Chapter 5. "Sleary's Horsemanship. "Dear reader!" he says in the final chapter. but so me of them might be confusing to the modern reader. observing his characters. Look at Chapter 6. Bounderby doesn't realize he's being made fun of." Dickens is firm in these judgments. COMIC RELIEF There are few greater comic writers than Dickens. You are told that Bounderby is a "b ully. Book the First. and talking dir ectly to the reader. commenting upon them. by Mrs. Dickens himself is the narrator. and in Har d Times--as in most of his novels--he weaves a wonderful story. Many readers find these devices pretentious and i nflated. Book the Third. and everyone is afraid of Sissy's re action. "Ah.

"Reaping. you'd rather form that opinion yourself. you're not alone among those who resent such narrative intrusion. You migh t enjoy guessing where each weekly installment began and ended. Book the Second. the characters must "take home" the results of what has been reap ed--that is. Boaz. Ruth followed her mother-in-law Naom i to Naomi's homeland. you're not likely to question the passion and sincerity with which he voices these thoughts. "Whatsoever a man soweth." details the results of the harvest. Hard Times was written as a weekly magazine serial in twenty parts." reveals the harvesting of these seeds: Louisa's unha ppy marriage. Tom must escape from the country. The structure of the book takes its shape from the t itles of the books. Book the Third. Stephen's rejection from Coke town. that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7). If so. Louisa's m arriage fails. "Sowing. since his narra tive voice is so strong. don't loo k at the chart that follows. all of which are drawn from farming images that have biblica l connotations. and Stephen Blackpool. The title of th e book recalls the biblical character Ruth. was so moved by her sense of duty and hard work that he took her for his wife. or books. Tom. they must live with the circumstances of their mistakes. Book the First. The owner of the fields.You may find yourself resisting Dickens's opinions now and then. But even if you do d isagree with Dickens's moments of moralizing. and Stephen dies. In Hard Times. This account s for the number of chapters that end in suspense or in minor climaxes. If so." shows us the seeds planted by the Gradgrind/Bounderby philosophy: Louisa. Here are how the chapters were divided into weekly "numbers." Installment Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Book the First I-III IV-V VI VII-VIII IX-X XI-XII XIII-XIV XV-XVI Chapters . There Ruth was allowed to follow the harvesters in the co rnfield and gather what they did not pick up. "Garnering. The first two books recall the biblical passage. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: FORM AND STRUCTURE Hard Times is divided into three sections. for example. that Tom is a monster and a hypocrite. and each book is divided in to three separate chapters. Tom's selfishness and criminal ways. You may not need to be told.

especially in sch ools for the poor. "a man he school's governor. This chapter is short but important. but the essence of its philosophy is shown here.9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Book the Second I II-III IV-V VI VII VIII IX-X XI-XII Book the Third I-II III-IV V-VI VII-IX ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER I In a large. you hear a speech in praise of facts. (Dickens portrayed such a school in his earlier novel. The speechmaker in the classroom is Thomas Gradgrind. When Sissy tells him that her father works with the "horse-riding" (a tr aveling circus). but Gradgrind insists on using her formal name. Even before any of the cha racters is introduced by name. One of the men explains to the teacher his philosophy of educa tion. inflexible. plain. Gradgrind won't hear of such a thing. "square"--all h ard edges and uniformity. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER II NOTE: Education in nineteenth-century England was in disarray. Everything about him is dry. whom he were common in such teachers. he calls upon identifies by her classroom number. Readers have pointed out that this chapter exaggerates very little in its depiction of the strict te aching methods of schools in factory towns.) The opposite extreme is exposed in Hard Times. You'll see a detailed picture of this educational system in Chapter II. C ecilia. If Jupe works with horses . facts that these children must learn. because it establishes immediately one of D ickens's major themes: the destructiveness of the wrong kind of education on inn ocent minds. whitewashed schoolroom. but he is serious and severe. twenty. three men stand in front of a class o f young students. The man speaking is not identified. It is facts that are important. of realities" and t a new girl. As he quizzes the class. Huge classrooms schools. That Dicken s disapproves of this theory can be guessed by his description of the grim man s peaking. He e mphasizes his theory again and again. Many people virtually abandoned students to schools (both day schools and boarding schools) where they were sometimes completely ignored and often mistreated. Nichola s Nickleby. Numbers w The girl's name is Sissy Jupe. with hundreds of students assigned to a handful of ere assigned to the students to ensure order.

to the honour and good faith of the boys. would preve nt the student from learning things on their own or truly understanding what the y had learned." All of the teachers were formed in the same mold... Forty teeth. The presence of the officer tells you that the school is government-run to teach the "lower classes." Does Bitzer's definition define a horse to your satisfaction? The facts are corr ect. where the bright child ish imagination is utterly discouraged. sheds hoofs. but he change s Mr.. The third man in the room is a government officer. Gradgrind asks for a definition of a horse. he must be a veterinarian. These decorations contradict fact. where the hero attends a school run by Dr. four eye-teeth and twelve incisive. Gradgrind's view of reality is so strict that he won't accept anything outside i ts realm. H orses don't walk on walls in real life. Th e students must never fancy. but Bitze r. all of their heads stuffed with facts. These methods. Gradgrind insists. are gloomily and grimly scared out of countenance. S heds coat in the spring. We all felt we had a part in the management of the place." The man's disapproval of horse pictures and flowered carpe ts comes from an 1851 edict of a Department of Practical Art that recommended ag ainst such decorative touches! The teacher of the class is Mr. "and on a sound system. but requiring to be shod with iron. The sun brings out Sissy's natural. whether boys or girls. see David C opperfield. Sissy is too shy to reply. M'Choakumchild. where I have never seen amon g the pupils. too. They must stick to what is real. namely twenty-four grinders. but it makes Bitz er appear pale and cold.. their fates will intertwine in the novel. Notice the ray of sunlight that strikes both students. an eager student. in marshy countries. and you see here an early example of his inflexib ility (as well as his refusal to face reality). We had noble games out of hours. notice how the two schools contrast.. with an appeal in everything." As you read this ch apter in Hard Times. Graminivorous. He questions the children." says David. and in sustaining its character and dignity . NOTE: DICKENS ON EDUCATION In a speech given a few years after the novel was wr itten. Would they wallpaper a room with pictures of h orses or use a rug with flowers in its design? Those who answer yes are wrong.. and plenty of liberty. Sissy's shyness and Bitzer's aggressiveness are contrasted in this scene. Hoofs hard.. anything but little parrots and small calcu lating machines. too.. NOTE: For a portrait of a school that meets with Dickens's approval. come to inspect the classroom . but do the words suggest the beauty. Jupe's occupation to one less involved with "fancy"! Thomas Gradgrind is a major character in the novel. Age known by marks in mouth.. according to Dickens. nor do people willingly walk on flowers." Dickens's disgust with the kind of education shown in the chapter is revealed in other ways: . the spirit of a horse? Dick ens is just beginning to make his point that education requires more than the le arning and memorizing of facts. Any attempt by the students to talk about wh at they might "fancy"--or prefer--is stopped short by the government officer. the grace. and where those bright childish faces. glowing colors. one of 140 teachers who have bee n produced by the same educational "factory. is ready with the proper answer: "Quadruped. Dickens said: "I don't like that sort of school. Not only won't he accept the use of the girl's nickname. Strong: "It was very grav ely and decorously ordered.

He viewed performers as overgrown children. Stone Lodge. who. he passes by "Sleary's Horse-riding. for example. whose political power he feared. fun-loving and generous. The word "grind" also suggests (a) the way the man "grinds" his theories into st udents' heads and (b) an excessively diligent student. of course. is as square and imposing as its owner. As for M'Choakumchild. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER III Gradgrind walks homeward from the school. What evidence can you offer to show that Dickens finds "fancy" more appealing? Gradgrind is scornful of what he sees. Gradgrind notices with disapproval some of the circus's fanciful attractions. but instead you're har ming them in more serious ways. How can it be possible that his children should be here at such a hi deous place? . As Gradgrind nears home. whitewashed schoolroom for an obvious reason: fancy vs. Dickens uses the a llusion to scold M'Choakumchild. Thomas and Louisa. There he lives with a wife and fiv e children. Coketown is a fictionalized representation of many industrial cities in northern England. which is in Coketown. with flags flying and music blaring! Dickens contra sts the multicolored world of the circus with the plain. fact." where Sissy Jupe' s father works. 2. Look. in sear ch of the forty thieves. it's a warning that Gradgrind w ould do well to heed. an industrial ci ty some distance from London. and he often identifies the characters' inner lives by what he call s them. The a cts printed on the leaflets Gradgrind sees are typical of those seen in travelin g fairs of the nineteenth century. but his scorn turns to shock when he spot s two of his own children. the implication of his name is all too clear! He's respon sible for "choking" the children--with facts! Is there evidence today of this kind of educational philosophy? Have you ever ex perienced anything similar to the way this school is run? Is there any benefit i n this kind of strictness? Think about the kind of school you would operate as y ou read this chapter. NOTE: M'Choakumchild's teaching methods are compared to Morgiana's in the story of Ali Baba in the Arabian Nights. according to fact. The names of the characters. looked into a large collection of jars. among the children peeking at the performers. Dickens is celebrated for having fun with charac ters' names. Beware! says Dickens. The title of the chapter. You may think you're only killing the imagination--the "fancy"--of these children. Gradgrind's home is on the outskirts of town. Morgiana was Ali Baba's servant. she boiled oil from the remaining jar and fille d the others with the scalding liquid to kill the men inside.1. "Coke" to coal miners is a residue coal product that can be used for fuel. at the hard "gr" sound repeated in Gradgrind's name. who have been raised. attempting to kill the Christ child. NOTE: Dickens had great affection for the rowdy. No nursery rhyme s or fairy tales for them! His house." It refers to an episode in the New Testament when King Herod. "Murdering the Innocents. As you will see. Discovering tha t all but one contained a thief. The circus is in full swing. ordered all babies under the age of one year to be k illed. good-natured world of entertain ment.

Mrs. Josiah Bounderby is talking to Mrs. th at she has been tired lately--of everything. and force d to support himself in a variety of odd jobs. On the way. She is a proper prudish neighbor. Bounderby is telling Mrs. Gradgrind arrives home with Tom and Louisa. Scolding her children seems to rob her of what little energy she has. Our first clue to Di ckens's opinion of him is in Bounderby's name: a "bounder" is British slang for an ill-bred. Grundy think?" The character is still seen to represe nt a model of British propriety. Dickens's description of Bounderby reveals one of the writer's famous stylistic traits--the repetition of words or phrases. despi te her father's anger." or "the study of") they are f orced to learn." The "music" created by these rhythms is particularly Dickensian. businesslike. Louisa explains that she simply wanted to see what the horse-riding was like. Yet the term also means an esc ape or evasion from a contract. pushy person. The perpetually sickly Mrs. and she soon fades from the scene. Gradgrind c an only sigh and ineffectively scold her children. She shows no guilt or sorrow. about whom the characters often say. NOTE: Bounderby is another of the novel's major characters. In this paragraph he repeats the wor d "man" and phrases such as "a man who" and "a man with. Bounderby was deserted by his mother. If we regard the relationship between Gradgrind and his children as a contract--formal. Bounderby will think about their behavior. The mention of this name causes a distinct change in Louisa's emotions. He immediately criticizes his wife f or allowing them to leave their studies. Remember this as you read. Try reading this passage aloud (or similar passages) to appreciate the full flavor of Dickens's prose. Grundy." a reference to the vas t number of subjects (whose titles end in "ology. He is a rich." and Gradgrind's best friend. he'll be the first to tell you--is entirely due to his own pe rseverance. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER IV At Stone Lodge. Gradgrind and Bounderby are mystified. "What will Mrs. Speed The Plough (1798). You'll soon see why Dickens compares Bounderby to Mrs. The position he has achieved--and it's a lofty one. a "Bully of humility. How could Thomas and Louisa be tempted to go to the circus when they have never been allowed anything that might have spu ." The repetition creates a rhythm that accelerates and reaches a climax with the final line: "A man who was the Bully of humility. and binding--then their ap pearance at the circus may be the first sign of their eventual escape.The chapter title is "A Loophole. Mrs. NOTE: Dickens compares Mr. balding balloon of a man. Gradgrind a story she has undoubtedly heard countless times before--the story of his early life. a character in a popular En glish play. he attempts to instill guilt in them by asking them what their friend Mr. Gradgrind." A "loophole" refers on one level to the openi ng where Louisa is trying to see the performance. Gradgrind ends the discussion abruptly and orders his children to come home with him. Gradgrind is both comic and pathetic in her attempts to raise her children by her husband's principles. Bounderby to Mrs. Grundy is often referred to (but never seen) in the play. Grundy. raised by a wicked grandmother. lou d. She can do little more than parrot his orders when she tells them to "go and be somethingological directly. It's a tale of hardship and cruelty.

teasing her about her definition of a horse." The images of the serpentlike smoke and the steam engine that resembles an eleph ant's head will be used throughout the novel to indicate the mark that industry has placed on the town." which is the note or tone on which a m is important to Dickens that we understand the c of Coketown citizens if we are to understand his him to write it. Bounderby and Gradgrind are surprised to see Sissy Jupe running toward them." Dickens merely raises the question h ere. impoverished lives. Dickens calls this chapter "The usical composition is based. which argued that war and medical epidemics were necessary to curb the growing world population. take opium. She passively allows him to kiss her. dissatisfied no matter what is done for them. Cha sing her is the colorless Bitzer. and the melancholy Gradgrind children. and their sister Jane and brothers Adam Smith and Malthus. There are eighteen churches in Coketown that no one attends. The red br icks of the building have been blackened by smoke that pours like "interminable serpents" from sooty chimneys. Both the citizens and the children have been denied "fancy. Tom. Adam Smith was the author of an influential book. an d the piston of the huge steam engine moves up and down "like the head of an ele phant. It is a depressing and ugly town. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER V Bounderby and Gradgrind pass through Coketown on their way to find the Jupes. It onditions that affect the lives book and the anger that caused Keynote. but there is little doubt about the conclusion he implies. Although they are portrayed as friends. which has become like a jungle. do you understand her attitude? Yet why is she so hostile to Bounderby? The reasons for her coldness toward him will become cleare r as the story unfolds. G radgrind scolds Bitzer for taunting the girl and then asks her to lead him and B ounderby to the hotel where the performers are staying. Bounderby offers his and Gradgrind's forgiveness for the children's "crime" and asks Louisa for a kiss. Dicke ns wonders if there is any relation between these citizens. go to sl eazy hangouts to sing and dance. Other committees testify that the citizens drink too much. All of the buildings are monotonously similar. and Malthus wrote the Essay on Population (1798). D ickens found both writers to be harmful influences. As for Bounderby and Gradgrind.rred their imaginations? Bounderby suggests that it might be Sissy Jupe who's re sponsible. While Gradgrind searches for their address. The Wealth of Nati ons (1776). There he finds Louisa. NOTE: The two youngest Gradgrind boys are named after famous eighteenth-century economists. despite a committee that argues in Parliament that the citizens should be forced to go to services. She tells Tom that she wouldn't cry if he were to take a knife and cut the spot from her face. they see the pe ople as lazy and ungrateful. dulled by their bori ng. Louisa's behavior may make you think of her as a spoiled brat. Notice the difference between Bounderby and Gradgrind in this scene and the one that follows. full of harsh noises and foul smells. but when he leaves she vigorously rubs the spot. Louisa met her when Sissy applied for entrance to the school at the G radgrind home. But from what you have seen of her upbringing. there are distinct differe . Bounderby slips i nto the children's study. The two men decide to see Sissy and her father to try to nip in the bud their in fluence on Louisa.

but Childers stops him cold. NOTE: The image of the horse continues to weave its way through the story. As Bounderby and Gradgrind wait impatiently for Sissy to find her father. As you read. What a difference there is between the two families! I . Dickens allows Bo underby to inflate himself with his own pomposity time and again. first in the classroom.nces in personality between them. among Jupe's friends. Notice. Hearing of the love between Sissy and her father reminds us of what we have seen of Gradgrind and Louisa. In this scene. often frivo lous side of life that so many in Coketown are denied. the politician who adheres strictly to the utilitaria n philosophy. Dickens seems to be having fun by dangling these irritant s under their noses without allowing the men to see them. then in Mr.--but he is careful to explain them in the context of the speeche s." "banners. Childers tells him." "ponging. that Kidderm inster plays Cupid. NOTE: Dickens uses many obscure theatrical terms--"missing his tip. try to decid e what Louisa. despondent over what he sees as the loss of his talent and agility. Dickens has given them names--Childers a nd Kidderminster--that suggest their youthful spirits. and Stephen Blackpool (whom you will meet soon) re present in this approach to the novel. now in the hotel sign--Pegasus . Ask yourself if some characters seem more obviously symbolic than others--that is. a story whose chara cters represent or symbolize a concept or idea. famous for his Wild Huntsman act. they were too close. usually as a moral lesson. usually portrayed as a young boy with a bow and arrow. and Gradgrind is offended by what h e perceives as lack of respect in the performers' attitudes. has been making many mistakes in his performances recently. But Kidderminster a nd Childers are unimpressed with their disapproval. Jupe's occupation. decide which characters are more like real human beings and which seem more like cardboard cutouts that Dickens uses t o prove a point. Bounderby continues to speak scornfully of Jupe. Gradgrind. they a re joined by members of the troupe: Childers. Bounderby is scornful of all of this jargon. the ancient Roman god of love. Bound erby is seen to represent the greedy capitalist who profits from the sweat and l abor of others. who does acrobatic tricks on horseback. Sissy. One of Dickens's most effective comic tools is the contrast of a self-important character with one who is irreverent and cocky. He'd rather disappear than have Sissy see him f ailing. Many readers consider Hard Times to be an allegory. To emphasi ze the performers' childlike innocence. that is. Which of them seems to have the softer side? ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER VI The public house where the performers are staying is called Pegasus's Arms. the mythical flying horse. but it is too dark for them to see either the sign or the picture inside. and Kidderminster. but he can't expres s his opinion here. only to have o ne of the performers deflate him with a sly remark. Bitzer. The members of Sleary's troupe stand for the carefree. Such a fabled creature would never meet with Gradgr ind or Bounderby's approval. Bo underby can think what he wants of Jupe. Childers tells them that Jupe. too. Childers goes on to say that Sissy wil l never believe her father deserted her." etc. who helps Childers's act by dressing as an infant. Childers tells them that Jupe has left town.

laziness. For the moment Sissy is staying at the Bounderby house to prevent h er from influencing Louisa in any harmful way. Now penniless. Dickens's fondness for these circus people is even clearer here. Sleary. People can't always be learning and working. other members of the troupe begin to gather in the room. but the alternative to the st rict. Mrs. They are often made to seem so pure and noble that they lack credibil ity. Sissy is tom but decides to go with Gradgri nd after he reminds her to think of what her father would want her to do. she comes in. who shows her off to the world as a great trophy. Sparsit (together with another character who appears later) represents the aristocracy in the allegorical design of the novel. and he is as vocal about the prestige of her past as he is about the poverty of his own upbringing. Gradgrind is in favor of taking Sissy under his wing as an example to Louisa of what the life she has been so curious about--the life of the performer--comes to in the end. but her husband wasted his money and his life on drink. "All work and no play mak es Jack a dull boy" is an old saying that expresses the same idea. enters the room. Bounderby thinks Gradgrind is simply asking for trouble.t's a difference that will take on greater importance in the future. whom Bounderby intends to take into the banking business after the you th's education has finished. He speaks of th eir "gentleness. Bo underby and Gradgrind think very little about what Sleary says. Do you agree? If you look for realism. and died young. she s obs uncontrollably. wh o will love and care for her always. She can stay with the troupe. Bounderby thinks about Gradgrind's decision to take control of Sis sy's future. Dickens held this class in g reat contempt for what he saw as their snobbery. He's so stricken with asthma t hat he speaks with a terrible lisp. Connected to the local aristocracy. His thoughts turn to Louisa's bro ther Tom. As he quizzes Gradgrind about what might be done for Sissy." and of their generosity and readiness to help each other selflessly. he tells her--they must be "amuthed. At breakfast." Sleary is clearly speaking for Dickens in this speech. Sleary's parting words ask her to thin k with kindness whenever she sees any horse-riding troupe in the future. these characters might seem too good to be true. Having a s housekeeper a woman so well-bred and highborn is a subject of great pride to h im. Right now. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER VII Mrs. NOTE: Characters in Dickens novels are often highlighted by one or two physical features that become their trademarks. Sparsit is Bounderby's housekeeper. Sissy sadly says good-bye to her friends. she is forced to work for Bounderby. As their a rgument continues. but watch for Gr adgrind to learn the wisdom in the words. Sleary offers her an alternative." their "childishness. Sensing immediately that her father is gone. bloodless theories and practices championed by Bounderby and Gradgrind. for example has a "Coriolan . you might agree that they are not meant to represent full-bodied characters. Some readers have charged that Dickens is too sentimental in portraying the lowe r classes. and self-importance. owner of the circus. Mr. Mrs. Gradgrind offers to give Sissy a home and an education as long as she makes up h er mind immediately and promises not to speak or write to any of her friends fro m the troupe. she married well. But if you see the novel as an allegory. Sparsit. proof of how far he has come in the world.

Gradgrind after school. At Bounderby's he'l l have more freedom." named after Coriolanus. Euclid was an ancient Greek mathematician celeb rated for his work in geometry. and Mrs. Yet to Gradgrind's dismay." NOTE: Jaundice is a blood disease that causes. He will use Si ssy as an example of how one so badly raised can still be educated and "formed" into a respectable person. but not necessarily beauty in Mrs. either in favor of Sissy or against her. Boun derby never tires of contrasting their pasts. The "bodies" of people who regulate their lives can't agree on how these citizens' lives can be improved. Tom hates his home. only concerned with boosting his own ego? Whatever point of vie w you choose.C. Sparsit can only agree. he . Bitzer's lack of color." "According to Cocker" was one of the titl es Dickens considered for this novel. Bounderby repeats his objection to the plan. I s Bounderby being cruel to remind her of how far she's fallen? Or is he unaware of her feelings. though. "Jaundiced" can also mean a distorted or prejudiced point of view. The same wa rning might well apply to those who live in Coketown. Other examples of these traits include Gradgrind's deep-set "cav e-like" eyes.ian nose. When Louisa warns that Bounderby might prove to be tougher than their father. He knows how to handle Bounderby. There he'll have revenge on all the facts that have been stuffed down their throats. It's important to note the relationship between Bounderby and Mrs. Bounderby does not come off favorably. particularly the novel of English count ry life. Tom dismisses her fears. Dickens here points out the power of literature and man's need for fictional ent rance into other worlds. A R oman nose might indicate nobility and power. Tom insists that he hates ever yone. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER VIII Dickens opens this chapter with more information about the citizens of Coketown. The one thing these bodies can agree on is that the citizens are never to wonder what their lives might be like. Tom takes hope in his upcoming job at Bounderby's bank. Can both of these meanings apply to the Gradgrind household? Louisa is sorry she can't do more to help Tom out of his depression. which he calls the "jaundi ced jail. sing songs--are forbidden her. the fiction of Defoe and Goldsmith is al ways more popular than books on mathematics by Euclid and Cocker. He begins with a story of how Louisa was once overheard by her father to say. a Roman general of the fifth century B. Which do you feel is more necessary for daily life--fac t or imagination? If you had an informal debate in your class. NOTE: Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) was a writer of popular fiction whose most famous book is Robinson Crusoe. Sparsit. among other symptoms. but the thi ngs that a sister might do--tell stories. Sparsit's case. which side would you be on? As Tom and Louisa sit alone before the fireplace. but as f or Louisa. " I wonder. More than anything. Louisa's emotionless expression. who announces his decision to take Sissy into hi s household to look after the ailing Mrs. she has nothing to say. And Cocker was a seventeenth-century mathematici an whose work was printed in so many editions that the phrase "according to Cock er" began to mean "according to fact. Louisa arrives with her father. even though the town library is stocked with books of fact. and loss of energy. Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774) was a novelist and playwr ight whose work Dickens greatly admired. See what others you can find as you read the character descriptions. yellow skin . a feeling of apathy. The Vicar of Wakefield." and had been sternly warned by him never to wonder again.

She stays at the Gradgrind home. Sissy begins to cry at these memories. and Louisa comforts her before asking Sis sy to recount what happened when her father left her. a fire with nothing to burn. Si ssy has been thinking of running away. When she returned from her errand. but her situation is nonetheless serious. Pressed by Louisa. Sissy tells of her loving father. How do you feel about t with their plight? They're not the first young people to a prison. Gradgrind lectures her ch ildren in a pale imitation of her husband." Now she identifies her future with the fading emb ers of the fireplace. This had begun to happen more and more frequently. Her addled mind offers some comic relief. And M'Choakumchild reports that she has no talent for science. . She ends her tirade with a typical bit of illogic: if only she had never had a family. This is the first time hem? Do you sympathize think of their home as t their unhappiness is you've seen Tom and Louisa alone. she is described as having "a light with nothing to rest upon. never her own. "I wonder. reminding them of all the advantages they have been giv en. These images suggest a passion within her that has been gi ven no reason or encouragement to blaze. Some might think him a bit mentally unbalanced. but having watched Gradgrind you might feel tha more understandable than that of most young people. Just as Louisa expresses her bewilderment about the future. She has obviously been ra ised to respect decency and fair play instead of learning the exacting standards of political economy. the children would know what life was like without her! Mrs. But those values will not serve her well in M'Choakumchil d's class. expresses a wistful des ire to be the Gradgrind daughter Louisa. but Louisa defends herself by saying that the dying fire reminded her of how short her life will be. but they do no t know him as Sissy does. on one of the rare occasions she talks to Louisa. helpful in the house. Gradgrind explodes. When we first meet he r in Chapter III. Sissy speaks tearfully of her father's intense depression and of being sent that day to pick up a bottle o f nine-oils. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER IX With Gradgrind on one side at home and M'Choakumchild on the other at school. sustaine d only by the hope that her father will come for her." Mrs. He's a clown who used to cry when he couldn't make audiences laugh. Mrs. Jupe. She still hopes tha t every letter Gradgrind carries is from her father.'ll use the old man's affection for Louisa as a means of getting his way. and "know so much. Watch for other references to fire in r elation to this important character. "To do unto others as I would that they should do unto me. Gradgrind is a minor character in the novel. She a lways mouths her husband's opinions. he was gone." Louisa can't unders tand this wish. NOTE: Louisa is identified throughout the novel with fire. more than Louis a could ever be. Gradgrind overh ears her utter those forbidden words. Sissy. mathematics . Sissy replied. Mrs. Gradgrind can't understand why Sissy refuses to see her father as a hopeless vil lain." You might recognize Sissy's answer as the Golden Rule. Sissy is nice to everyone. or history. When asked what is the first principle of political economy. but she represents another of those that Gradgrind has virtually destroyed with his insistence on facts.

Stephen is nonetheless honest and hardworking. Most readers agree that Dickens had a "tin ear" for dialect. suggests that his life is as polluted and darkened by th e situation in Coketown as are the skies and streams. searching for someone among the crowds. dressed in rags. Dickens conveys Stephen's words in a crude dialect that's often difficult to read. There's no explanation for this contradiction. Stephen rep resents the working class that Dickens wished to champion. She' s dirty. that he was not successful in capturing the language of these people. From that conversation on. and the mysterious woman has not hing to do with Bounderby and the Gradgrinds. What is Stephen and Rachael's relationship? Who is the witch like woman? Dickens begins to whet our appetites for the next chapter." NOTE: THE USE OF DIALECT In an effort to characterize Blackpool as a member of the lower class. darkest corner of Coketown lives Stephen Blackpool. Jupe. but Rachael urges him not to worry. Blackpool. But she merely screeches at him that she'll keep returning again and again. They are old friends. he is surprised and shocked by a woman there. Suddenly he spots her--Rachael. Who can blame her? She has seen no example of it in her own home. Stephen is upset about certain law s. and shows as much disappointment when it turns out no t to be from Mr. NOTE: Stephen is the first of the poor citizens of Coketown we have met. His dre ary surname. Stephen waits outside the factory. Stephen is forced to sleep in a chair. But this is the first time we have seen her show concern for someone be sides Tom. and they speak of thei r deep affection for each other as they walk. You just have to have patien ce and know that you'll probably get used to the dialect as you read. Yet both agree that life is "a muddle.Does Louisa seem a bit cruel when she presses Sissy to relive painful memories? Perhaps. a weaver in one of the factories. ugly. and her return causes him g reat pain. Stephen looks much older. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER X In the deepest. Stephen walks Rachael to her home and continues to his little room above a shop. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER XI . Louisa waits with as much hope as Sissy does whenever Gradgrind holds a letter. a consequence of a l ife filled with tedious work and deprived of pleasure. It's a characteristic device of Dicke ns. attractive woman of thirty-five. the kind that kept Dickens's weekly readers intrigued. Only forty. When Stephen enters his room. But Dickens is a master at weaving two seemingly separate stories and having them intertwine as the novel unfolds. and his is one of the major stories of the novel. Then she claims his bed as her own and falls into a deep stupor. NOTE: The reference to the undertaker's ladder that appears in Rachael's street is a grim foreshadowing of events to come. drunk. You might also wonder why Stephen's dialect is so thick and Rachael's so slight. This story also brings suspense to the plot. nor is there an easy way to understand Stephen's lines. Neither particularly inte lligent nor learned. It may seem that the story of Stephen. The work day is over. He knows her. Rachael. Allegorically. since th ey come from the same place. Gradgrind attributes Sissy's false hopes to her poor educ ation. She is intensely curious to find out what a loving relationship betwe en father and daughter is like. a gentl e. and an ugly rain falls.

th at there was no great demand for it. Marrying that woman was just a ba d piece of luck that he'll have to live with. Dickens's passion for these issues is understan dable if you've ever felt strongly about a contemporary issue. Mrs. Bounderby is eating lunch and is surprised to see Stephen. Bounderby has heard of Stephen's bad marriage. She's seen him leaving Bounderby 's house and she asks about that man. who tells him that the law is n ot Stephen's concern. She would wander off. Dickens had a personal resentment against t he divorce laws. Sparsit asks if the trouble was caused by a difference in Stephen's and his wife's ages. This scene dramatizes the relationship between management and labor. her condition worsened . Many lawmakers felt that the lower classes didn't need easy divorce. Stephen heads home. Sparsit are shocked. The government has taken gre at pains. Five years ago h e paid her to stay away permanently. he's told. Some of his personal frustration found a voice in Stephen's d ilemma (although lack of money was not Dickens's problem). Stephen only gets accused of being a troublemaker. On the way. whorish life. How does he look? Is he healthy? The woman is grateful for Stephen's answers. Dickens tells us. Stephen wants to divorce his wife. Bounderby owns the mill where S tephen works. Bounderby tells him. lead a loose. just arrived in town after a long trip. Coming to a sk for help. Why can't he? NOTE: Divorce in the mid-nineteenth century was almost always the privilege of t he rich. At lunchtime. Stephen goes to Bounderby's house.The next morning Stephen is at work in the factory. whom he married ni neteen years ago. and Bounderby and Mrs. and he began to resume a normal life--until last night. she tells him she mak es the 40-mile trip from her home to Coketown every year just to catch a glimpse . a woman with whom he w as deeply in love. Millwork is his concern. he's met by an elderly woman. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER XII Saddened and discouraged. But she began drinking and sold the furniture and clothes to p ay for her habit. Do you find these passages preachy or persuasive? Remem ber that his audience would be reading about issues that were controversial and that affected their daily lives. She's his wife. I t can't be done. Sparsit asks this question so pointedly? And why does Boun derby seem sheepish when she does? This small detail hints at a future plot deve lopment. Why is there no law to help him out of this terrible situation? Stephen's contempt for the law angers Bounderby. If Stephen were to hurt his wife or desert her or marry another. and make the best of his bad luck. Despite Stephen's attempts to cure her. But Stephen has read of wealthy people end ing unsuitable marriages. but it has ignored the human beings and their suffering. Stephen tells the story of the hideous woman. a law would punish him. there h as never been any trouble with this worker (or "hand") before. He should stay i n his place. he was unable to end his own marri age to his wife Catherine in order to marry Ellen Ternan. and return. As she walks with him. to gauge the capacity of work the machines are capab le of producing. Some readers feel that Dickens's frequent interruptions are intrusive and delay the action of the story. Why do you think Mrs. Stephen is frustrated by Bounderby's stubborn attitude. Because of their complexity.

warning dreams. they look magical when lighted. in the guise of the bottle of poison. he is shaken with fear at what he has been thinking. When the opportunity is in front of him. Instead. determined istic as he Stephen wanders sorrowfully in the rain. Whether you feel that th is scene is moving or overdone is probably a matter of personal taste. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER XIII Thinking of the inequality with which Death chooses its victim. it's clear that he f eels condemned by God for his thoughts. Remember that the readers of Dickens's day loved such sensational elements as long-lost w ives. Rachael has known Stephen's wife since they wer e young girls and was a friend to the couple when they were first married. tearful declarations of love. if we can judge from the popularity of today's soap ope ras!) As a popular novelist. Why does Stephen have this terrible dream? Which commandment--the one forbidding adultery or the one forbidding murder--is illuminated on the tablet? Whatever y our opinion on which issue Stephen feels more guilty about. and according to the doctor. Stephen is curious about the old woman's interest in Bounderby. at his work. assuming that all is well with the workers there. A wedding ceremony. e his wife. Stephen's wife is close to unconsciousness. he wonders. She i s helping the unfortunate creature because she can't stand to see anyone suffer. Stephen doesn't shatter her illusions. NOTE: In addition to the images of the serpent (the smoke) and the elephant (the steam engine). Some readers fault Dickens for excessive emotionalism in scenes such as this. (And tast es haven't changed much. she asks questions about his life in the factory. bottles of poison. Dickens often refers to the factories as the Fairy Palaces becau se. Dickens gave the public what it wanted. dreading to go home and fac How.of Bounderby. Stephen enters h is room to find Rachael at his wife's bedside. perhaps thinking it's liquor . can someone as good and kind as Rachael have a fate by such a terrible woman as his wife? His thoughts become more fatal nears home. Stephen falls into a gradual sleep. His wife stirs on the bed as he watches from the chair. he tre mbles with fright to see that its contents are poisonous if swallowed. and begins to open it. Suddenly the wedding turns into a funeral service and burial. is interr upted by a great shaft of light that illuminates a line from the ten commandment s to the altar. interrupted by a disturbing dream. It's easy to realize that Stephen is having morbid thoughts of killing his wife. wi th Stephen as the corpse and witnessed by a group that seems to represent the en tire world. but he doesn't i nquire. treating the drunken woman's sore s with medication from a bottle. but Rachael awakens in time and wrenches the b ottle from her grasp. he sees that Rachael is asleep. subconsciously hopin g that she will drink the poison. from a distance. . Stephen glances out the window to see her staring with admiratio n at the factory buildings. Late r. When Stephen spots the bottle of medicine. He has no will to try to stop her. since few places are less magical than the factories. When he awakens. Obviously the image is heav y with irony. th ey find the scenes overly sentimental and melodramatic. She grasps for the bottle. will be in this state until tomorrow. After work. in which he is the groom and an unknown woman is the bride.

" Louisa allows no emotion but merely asks her father a series of questions: Does he think she loves Bounderby? Does he ask her to love Bounderby? Does Bounderby ask her to love him? Gradgrind is uncomfortable. have secret dreams or hopes? Her answer pleases Gradgrind. a nd his Hands are mutes. they say. who wishes her joy. his factory is a secret place. Why does he react this way? Did he expe ct that Louisa would be overcome with joy at the prospect of marrying Bounderby? Or is it possible that he himself is uneasy about arranging this marriage? Your answer might depend on whether you feel that Gradgrind has a human side. "But. But the metaphor is extended to include other parallels: the woof bec omes the pattern of Louisa's future. a s an indispensable member of the household. But the marriage is a necessary plot device. He discontinues Sissy's education. spinning threads that become a woman. Bounderby is too aw are of Louisa's upbringing to raise such an issue." This kind of comparison is known as an "extended metaph or. Gradgrind wonders if Louisa has accepted any other secret proposal. How could she. This is the first time you've seen Gradgrind uncomfortable. and they go to break the news to Louisa's mother. but Louisa s ays she hasn't. ("Woof" is a weaving term meaning texture or fabric . She talks of the fires of the Coketown chimney. now a member of Parliament. and Gradgrind. Tom reminds her of their own close relationship (even though he sees little of her now that he's working). and Gradgrind's stony reac tion--believable or not--is important to making it happen. given the number of hints about it up to now. it is sentimental. etc. What kind of woof would h e weave now? Louisa wonders. This news can't be too surprising to you. with her education. NOTE: Louisa's allusion to the Coketown chimney is another example of her connec tion to fire. could be that unaware of his daughter's f eelings. The extended metaphor is one of Dickens's most f amous stylistic traits. No father. but Gradgrind is either blind or insensitive. NOTE: DICKENS'S USE OF METAPHORS At the end of this chapter. suggesting that the matter of l ove may be out of place." Two different things are being compared (Time and a weaver) as in a regular metaphor. his work is noiseless. sayin g that the "languid and monotonous" smoke by day gives way to fire at night. Dickens compares T ime to a weaver. h is workers are mute hands. as evidenced by her comments to Bounderby about the t roubles known to come to marriages of "unequal ages.) Dickens writes. S parsit has anticipated it. Louisa becomes cold and aloof and pu . feeling t hat she has no head for learning. Sissy sadly agrees. The n she says that she is "satisfied" to accept Bounderby's offer. When she looks at Louisa to try to see what is going on in her mind. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER XV Gradgrind tells Louisa that Bounderby has proposed marriage. It suggests that she is aware of the youthful passion that lies wi thin her and will never be allowed to express itself. Louisa's questions a bout love find him completely off guard. Even Mrs. and Tom tells her that these plans have something to do with Bounderby. however. the place Time works is a silent factory. She is kept on. Love is "fancy". and Louisa agrees to remember how much they mean to each other.^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER XIV Time has passed. Gradgrind has plans for Louisa as well. Why is the reference lost on her father? It is a plea from the heart to save her from future unhappiness. Some readers have found this scene hard to believe. But Sissy is shocked and saddened. Louisa responds strangely. decides that young T om should work at Bounderby's bank.

"Sowing" suggests the seeds planted by Gradgrind in the raising of his childre n." tells us that we will soon know. We learn that his own mother is in a work house. Bounderby is frustrated at her calm." NOTE: Dickens is something of a prophet for his belief that industrial smoke and waste were unhealthy to the environment and to people. Sparsit. entitled "Sowing. untrustworthy. Bitzer finds him lazy. The wedding takes place after a period of loveless "courtship. Bitzer acts as a spy for Mrs. NOTE: This chapter marks the end of the first book. When Bitzer brings her tea. Sparsit finds disgrac eful. but accepts an apartment in his bank and a similar stipend to what she has been receiving. Both Tom and Louisa have been raised according to strict principles. Spa rsit. Sparsit reacts with a mixture of condescension and symp athy. which Mrs. no doubt.lls away from the girl. But Mrs. and he feels very much the victim. Bitzer. which. and Dickens uses farming terms in the titles of all three books . useless. On this stifling day. whom he hates. Bitzer has little to report. He also has unkind words for the millwo . Mrs . It was not until well in to the twentieth century that the full effects of pollution were recognized and laws passed to prevent industrial abuse of the air and water. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER XVI Bounderby is nervous about breaking the news of the upcoming wedding to Mrs. Tom takes her aside to praise her for being such a good sport about marrying Bounderby. only th at the mill workers are planning a trade union. seen from afar. but Tom doesn't notice. As Louisa is ready to leave on her honeymoon. seems only a "blur of soot and smoke. Sparsit is indulging in one of her favorite pastimes--pitying Bounderby for hi s marriage. She suggests firing anyone who attempts to join such a union. the two gossip. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER I It's a sunny day in Coketown. now a year old. Sparsit represents those of the upper classes who felt threatened by worker s joining together to act as one." Bounderby's spee ch at the wedding breakfast is a masterpiece of self-praise and practicality. who is none other than Sissy's old headache." To sow is to plant seeds. Louisa begins to show emotion underneath her facade. Mrs. But what will become of the harvest when the seeds are fully grown? Will Gradgrind be pl eased with his "crop"? Or will the harvest be a bitter one? And what will become of Stephen Blackpool? The title of the second book. He's just pleased with the thought of how much more pleasant life will be in the future. but Bitzer s ays that tactic has failed. Bitzer's other bit of gossip concerns young Tom Gradgrind. allowed only half a pound of tea a year from her generous son. It is a prejudice that some employers still ho ld. He fully expects hysteria from her when she learns she will be replaced in the household. Sparsit sits at the window of her apartment at the ba nk. She now has a deaf maid to attend to her and the assistance of the bank's li ght porter (messenger). Mrs. For the first time. Her tone suggests that she predicts only mi sery for the couple. "Reaping. She turns down his offer to stay as part of the household.

rkers." Mrs. He supports the Gradgr ind party because it is the first one that accepted him. says Bounderby. The gentleman is yet another stranger added to the story. since she spends mo st of her time thinking about him. who immediately sets him straight about Coketown . and both voice their disapproval of the habit. as you shall see. Sparsit comments favorably on the gentleman. Thinking that To m is his key to unlocking Louisa's heart. Why is he in London? W hy does he inquire about Mrs. Bounderby's age. Meeting Gradgrind and his poli tical cronies (the "Hard Fact fellows"). sneaky. a drink and a smoke. Bitzer sugges ts that he looks like he "games" (gambles). Ha rthouse holds him in contempt as well but has his own uses for Tom. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER III Dickens makes no secret of his contempt for Tom--he's a hypocrite. handsome man has arrived to see Mrs. the more bored he becomes. Sparsit. One set of ideas is as good as the next to him. They deci ded to send him to Coketown to meet influential people there. Harthouse allows the young man to show him to his hotel. the only words that escape her lips are. At her solitary meal. A young. After making inquiries about Mrs. yachtsman--and found them all boring. But on e thing keeps him from abandoning this newfound political life: the intriguing t hought of bringing some expression to Louisa's beautiful. who represents for Dickens another result of such an education. Harthouse is a man without a fixed opinion or philosophy. Why does she care so much? Her behavior is no t easy to explain. selfish. the young man impressed them. "O. yo u fool. The smoke. One of these recr uits happens to be the younger brother of a fine gentleman. He has with him a letter of introduction to Bounderby from Gradgrind. The well-bre d stranger knows just how to flatter Mrs. passive face. is good for the lungs. assistant to an ambassador. After he leaves. When Harthouse meets Louisa. Don't forget that Bitzer is one of Gradgrind's prize pupils. Mrs. As for the workers. these are the facts--according to Bounderby. He invites h im to his room for a rare treat. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER II The political party to which Gradgrind belongs needs recruits. When Bitzer leaves. Sparsit's "fool" is undoubtedly addressed to Bounderby. whom he considers spendthrifts and pleasure seekers. Bitzer is smug. The younger man has tried a variety of occupations and diversions--cavalry officer. Bounderby? Dickens continues to build his suspense ful plot. . And that is how Ja mes Harthouse found himself at Bounderby's that sunny day. all they want is to eat venis on and turtle soup with a gold spoon! No matter what Harthouse might have heard. Harthouse meets with Bounderby. he is immediately attracted to her. and she is soon putty in his hands. whom he met in London. he asks directions to the Bounderby house. and mill work is the most pl easant and easy work there is. particularly to the emotions that lie buried beneath her cool exterior. Harthous e observes at dinner that Tom is the only person she cares for. Sparsit. a monster. she sits alone at the window until Bitzer announc es dinner. The more time Harthouse spends with Bounderby.

smoking." a slang term for a young person. With that. they are honest. He beg ins to avoid Rachael. good-humored. to fire up the audience. or other carnivorous mammal. A few days after the union meeting. says Slackbridge. Slackbridge takes to the podium again. He tells Harthouse that Louisa doesn't c are for Bounderby and never did. who tells him that Bounderby wants to see him right away. Stephen tells the audience that he's convinced the union will do more harm than good. Tom drifts off to sleep from the powerful effects of the alcohol and tobacco. Harthouse eggs Tom on about his sister and Bounderby. Wh en he awakens and Harthouse sends him home." There is a visible contrast between the speaker and the audience. a man named Slackbridge gives a passionate speech to a group of mill workers. But he also has a personal reason for not joining. afraid that she would be shunned by the factory women. sensible. drinking. Tom feels he has been influenced by this new friend in an unusual way. You might wonder from this portrayal if Dickens hated unio . Only a few feel guilty about their treatment of Stephen. T hey hang on his every word because they sincerely feel that their lives can be m ade better and that Slackbridge might have the solution. She has powerful hidden resources. He's willing to accept their avoidance of him. although he admits she's as innocent and unsophisticated as when she first left home. Many boo at the reference to thi s man. The chairman urges him to think again before making a final decision. an d feeling important. But he doesn't worry about Louisa. is an easy target. but others insist that he be allowed to speak. Tom had persuaded her to marry the man to make his own life easier. Tom. one he can't share with them. bea r. he leaves the hall. This is a man who refuses to join the union. If only he knew what the influence would mean . Dickens tells us. he might have jumped in the river and ended his life once an d for all. The myster y of Harthouse and what he will mean to Louisa and Bounderby continues. He is "ill-mad e. He tells them that the time has come for them to joi n together and throw off the oppression that has suffocated them for so long--th e oppression of the mill owners. but Stephen has made up his mind. The chairman of the meetin g interrupts Slackbridge's tirade and introduces the outcast--Stephen Blackpool. Only men were allowed to vote in these matters or in any election. will they share the "glorious rights of Humanity. NOTE: Although women worked in the factory. Slackbridge singles out one man for ridicule. but he ho pes he'll be allowed to keep his job. they had no say in the forming of th e union." with a continual sour expression. The workers follow their pledge and won't speak to him or acknowledge his presence on the street. despite its benefits to the workers. Only when the workers are united in brotherhood . ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER IV In a public hall in Coketown. lion. The workers are soon cheeri ng.NOTE: Harthouse's private term for Tom is "the whelp. derived from the word used to describe the offspring of a dog. The next few days are solitary and painful for Stephen. Stephen is stopped on the street by Bitzer. NOTE: DICKENS'S VIEW OF UNIONS The union meeting pictured in this chapter is cr ude and melodramatic. Dickens's final comment lets us know that Harthouse is up to no good. He knows that the rules demand he be shunned by t he rest of the workers.

and he does: poor conditions. and Stephen reports that Louisa is young and beautiful. Dickens's sympathies were clearly for the working man and woman. but he is "lost" to her. Others feel that Dickens was trying to show t hat there is evil on both sides. unavoidably caught between two strong forces. Dickens b elieved in the worth of the human being. Stephen is so rry that Slackbridge has power over the workers. not people. If so. Getting rid of Slackbrid ge--or one hundred Slackbridges--won't help. praying for heaven to help the wor ld. and fires him. management that treats them as numbers. bu t she says nothing. Stephen then offers a moving defense of the mill workers as honest. unions were often run by demagogues (men who seize power by arousing peopl e's emotions and prejudices). and Harthouse are gathered. no one else will hire him either. Some readers feel that the scene was add ed in response to those who felt that management was treated too harshly in the earlier chapters. He urges Stephen to fi st for Harthouse the workers' complaints. Since Hard Times was a serial. Stephen tells Rachael of his dismissal from the factory. not moved. Louisa enters with Tom. Stephen asks the old woman to his house for tea. Pegler. While management was filled with greedy taskmas ters. Bounderby demands to hear about th e Combination (union). Louisa. Pegler panics an d insists on hiding. Stephen leaves the house." Bounderby concludes that Stephen is one of those workers who always have a compl aint. Rather than a conversation between two people. His pleas seem to affect only Louisa." Mrs. Bounderby is merely frustrated. not the worth of institutions easily co rrupted. No one will now treat her badly for being his friend. Hearing the name "Bounderby. In short. but sile ntly he doubts that the two are as happily married as the woman assures him they are. Bounderby. where B ounderby. you're not alone. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER VI Leaving Bounderby's. Dickens the reformer seems to have overwhelmed Dicke ns the novelist. Readers have pointed out that Stephen does not speak like a mill worker and is too obvi ously Dickens's mouthpiece. She once had a son who did very well for himself. hardworking.ns as much as he hated the mill owners. and he is outraged at Stephen's silence. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER V Arriving at Bounderby's house. but poor leadership is all thes e people are ever offered. i t seems more a debate between figures representing management and labor. Stephen is ushered into the drawing room. The old woman wanted to catch a glimpse of Mrs. Stephen reminds Bounderby that if he can't get work in Coke town. long hou rs. She is a widow whose husband has been long dead. Things will still be "a muddle. Until now she has thought of the mill workers as a group . Bounderby wants Stephen to denounce Slackbridge as a troublemaker. His only comfort is tha t his departure from Coketown will make life easier for Rachael. Stephen is surprised to see Rachael walking with the myster ious woman he had met a year before. The woman tells Rachael and Ste phen her name--Mrs. Dickens could easily have added a scene to placate those critics. There's a knock at the door. NOTE: This scene between Bounderby and Stephen may seem forced and long-winded t o you. and faithful.

. looking back to see Coketown awaken. never as individuals. thinking of Rachael. he strikes many as one of its weaker links. Sparsit. This is the first time she has see n how simply they live. Stephen heads out of town. fellow worke rs who avoid him. she is not shocked. he fingers patiently until darkness falls. Readers have faulted Dickens for hopelessly stacking the deck against Stephen: a drunken. she extends herself selflessly to someone else. the portrayal of Stephen might work more successfully. but he'll accept only one pound (several dollars ). Tom pulls Stephen aside and offers him a chance to do a favor for him and benefi t from it. Stephen decides to wait two hours on the third day. whorish wife. What do you think? What might Dickens have done to make Stephen a more realistic cha racter? ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER VII With a bit of political coaching and a natural talent for hypocrisy. He sees Bitzer. but the colorless porte r says nothing. Making a detour only to pass Rachael's house. then prepares to leave town before the other workers are awake. Now. but too proud to accept more. a woman he loves but can't marry. When no message co mes. Although she struggles to find a more hopeful side to life. He's grateful for her kindness. When he openly declare s his cynical philosophy to Louisa. Dick ens might have created a character so pitiful that he's no longer believable. What does Tom have up his sleeve? Is it likely he wants to help Stephen? Has Tom had a change of heart like Louisa? If so. Louisa offers money to Stephen. She has come to offer whatever help she can. and the need to leave home. The more she sees of humanity. Observed onl y by Mrs. why does he make a point to speak to Stephen privately? For the next two days. Bitzer will meet him with a message. Louisa then gues ses correctly that the promise keeping Stephen out of the union was made to Rach ael. he walks into the countryside and an uncertain future. sleeps a bit. the loss of his job. Stephen fulfils his promise and waits outside the bank af ter his work at the factory is finished. alternately sw eet and cold. But in a novel that tries for realism. She can't believe Stephen is to be "sacrificed" because of the prejudices of labor and management. Harthouse d oes very well as a representative of the Gradgrind party. Steph en. NOTE: STEPHEN BLACKPOOL It has been noted that Stephen is named after St. she was raised with atti tudes like these. With a heavy heart. In a pure allegory. What a change we see in Louisa! Her behavior is often perplexing. All Stephen has to do is hang around the bank for an hour or two afte r work. Through Stephen she is learning that people are more than the statistics her father always made them out to be. for the first time. Harthouse' s cynicism overwhelms her. Does he have any chance faced with these odds? In his attempt to show the abused worker. he returns home. because he too is a martyr--to the cause of the oppresse d worker. and some readers poi nt to its flimsiness as a plot device that creates a major weakness in the Steph en Blackpool plot. the more she feels that nothing matters. a Christian martyr. NOTE: The exact nature of this promise is never made clear. Stephen agrees. Assured by Stephen that such a favo r will be to his advantage.of faceless employees.

He reminds every one that he has no use for such finery. The Bounderbys now live in a large house in the country outside of town. He has no interest in Tom's well-being. will be. Harthouse comes closer to seducing her. You know that Louisa could care less about the money. What will be. he confesses his debts . We know that Harthouse is lying. That night. The gunpowder of this chap ter's title is about to be ignited. At Bounderby's later that day." His actions spring from boredom. Harthouse offers to use his influence to help Tom if it will help Louisa feel le ss anxious about him. he t hinks it speaks well of her to be so concerned for his money. Bounder by obtained the house as a result of a bank foreclosure. Since then she's given him occasional small sums. a nd the results of his carelessness remain to be seen. Harthouse runs into Louisa in one of her favorite private places. still diverted by the challenge of making Louisa care for him. a clearing in the woods. he asks that Tom be kinder to Louisa in the future. She admits that Tom did borrow a great deal of money from her after she was first married. Bounderby reports that Louisa fainted when she heard the news. On a summer afternoon. During the conversation. he tells himself. But de stroy he does. He may even be encouraging Tom to spend beyond his means. Alone with Harthouse. In exchange.. By using Louisa's love for Tom. and he in hers. Harthouse doesn't know the resu lts of his manipulations. He watches and observes everyth ing about her.. and he takes great deli ght in making fun of its expensive furnishings and art objects. Have you ever known anyone who sneered at something and at the same time couldn' t resist it? Bounderby is that kind of snob and hypocrite. He's upset that Louisa's marriage hasn't been as profitable for him as he had hoped. and now Harthouse observes that she final ly has a smile for someone other than Tom. Tom apologizes to his sister for his recent sullen behavior. hoping for a clue to win her affections. not from the impulse to destroy. NOTE: Dickens seems to feel that Harthouse is the greater villain for having no specific aim for his wickedness: "It is the drifting icebergs. Louisa's indifference to her husband and her feeling that Harthouse knows the deepest sec rets of her soul have made him important to her. and recently he's asked for a n amount she can't afford. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER VIII The next morning Harthouse sits at his window and ponders the success he's had i n drawing Louisa to him. since he was once poor and unaccustomed to the trappings of wealth. She is now in his confidence. Louisa is grateful to Harthouse for his help. Tom has gambled himself deeply into debt. Harthouse offers free advice whenever Tom should need it.Harthouse is spending a great deal of time at the Bounderby home. he correctly guesses that Tom has been gambling and that Louisa has been paying his debts. Why does she react so stro . but out of boredom. not out of love for her. Harthouse learns that the bank has been robbed of 150 pounds. Tom is depressed over his finances. His behavior worries her. He is attracted to wh at money can buy but is vocal in his disapproval of it. that wreck the ships.

Louisa leaves. Pegler is also worth noting. but she rallies when she realizes that Louis a is there. Sparsit is invited to stay with the Bounderbys in order to soothe her frazz led nerves. but he was seen by Mrs. Sparsit recuperates at the Bounderbys. he's had no change of heart. Mrs. and he condemns all that's good in the world. Which do you think is more likely? That night Louisa pleads with Tom to tell her if he has anything to confess. Jane seems happier than she ever was. Tom lies and says he was only warning hi m to make good use of Louisa's money. but we never know this for certain. Louisa finds her mother cared for by Sissy (now an "equal" in the household) and Louisa's younger sister Jane. Tom's emotional reaction shows that he's aware of how badly he's treated Louisa. Louisa notices with some discomfort that Jane is closer to Sissy than to Louisa. Gradgrin d knows that something has been missing in her children's education. Bitzer arrives with news that Louisa's mother is dying and requests to see her. and she is still estranged from Siss y. where she has gone rarely since her marriage. and Tom throws himself on h is pillow. The dying woman has a few last words for her daughter." she dies. Bounderby thinks the chief suspect is Stephen Blackpool. making sure that she goes unnoticed. makes him hi s favorite drink--things Louisa doesn't do. There is little for her there. and Dickens is preparing us for a surpri se. Her love for him makes her suspicions unbearable. Mrs. Louisa's sisters are not close to her. but he's not sorry. She takes care of Bounderby as she used to. Mrs. The suspicion that falls on Mrs. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER IX As Mrs. Not only has Stephen ch aracterized himself as a dissatisfied worker. Maybe she wants life the way it used to be when she was his housekeeper. Louisa makes immediate preparations to go home. It's certain now that Tom is responsible for the theft. plays backgammon with him. Mrs. He cries for lying to his sister. but if you were as . suspecting that their relationship is warming. Sparsit to linger around the bank three nights in a row." but one seems to have been forgotten. Gradgrind is barely conscious. Tom has nothing to say. There she offers hints that the Bounderby marriage is a mistake. and Louisa wonders how much of that happiness is due to Sissy's influence. He's also been seen talking to a strange old woman who seems to have disappeared. They have l earned many "ologies. Gradgrind has been constantly ill. What is the "ology" Mrs. she continues to prowl about the house. It was he who asked Step hen to wait outside the bank on those evenings. Her function in the book is still a mystery (altho ugh you may have guessed her identity). When she reminds him of the private words he had with Steph en when they visited the latter's room. Yet he's not sorry for what he's done. She is particularly interested in th e goings-on between Harthouse and Louisa.ngly? Is it possible she suspects Tom? She knows he needs money and is often unp rincipled. Gradgrind was trying to remember? Or was she simply rat tling on in her dying state? Dickens offers no specific clue. The suggestion is there that Mrs. Sparsit wants to marry Bounderby. and he feel s no remorse for casting suspicion on the innocent Stephen. As the old woman gr opes in vain for the missing "ology.

Sparsit is still at the Bounderby house. she pumps Tom for information regard ing Harthouse. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER XI As Louisa continues down the "staircase. As Mrs." Gradgrind arrives from London to bury his wife in a "businesslike manner. Sparsit knows why. Sparsit watches Tom at the trai n station. Sparsit leaves for the country. As it begins to rain. Mrs. Sparsit to f is moving further down the "staircase.ked what was missing from the Gradgrind children's education. but there has been no luck in finding Stephen or the old woman implicated in the crime. Harthouse tells h er. she looks out her window to see Louis talking in the garden. begins to see Louisa's progress into adultery in c oncrete terms--as a descent down a staircase that has a "dark pit of shame and r uin at the bottom. praising him to his face but calling him a "noo dle" behind his back. Harthouse assures Louisa that Stephen is guilty. The next day. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER X Weeks pass. When Harthouse doesn't arrive . Mrs. but if she could. Sparsit gathers whatever news she can of Harthouse and Louisa. Sparsit is laying a trap for Louisa. even after s he moves back to her own home. Bounderby goes away on business but insists that Mrs. even to the point of looking through personal letters for a clue. Sparsit a and Harthouse uch his face as eel that Louisa is packing to return home. ever observant. Mrs. she would hear them discuss ing the robbery. Mrs. Before Mrs. Harthouse asked Tom to meet him there as a diversion s o that he could slip off alone to the country house. but that he expects Harthouse to be at the Bounderbys on Sunday. She waits eagerly for the final descent. Mrs. Sparsit then asks T om to tell Louisa that she won't be coming to the Bounderbys for the weekend aft er all. Sparsit spend her usual we ekend at his house. Resolved not to lose sight of the flattering Mrs. She thinks that Louisa and Harthouse a re planning a rendezvous while Bounderby is out of town. what would you say ? Love? Imagination? Sympathy? The answer is left for you to decide. But nothi ng happens. all ." She can't hear their conversation. certain that it's just a matter of time. Sparsit hurries across town to the country house. that Harthouse recognized the man as a hypocrite from the very first. Mrs. and Mrs. Mrs. Tom tells her that Harthouse is away on a hunting trip." The robbery is still very much on everyone's mind. no matter what objections Louisa might have. Sparsit sees Louisa's hair almost to they lean in to talk quietly--close enough for Mrs. The robbery was obviousl y committed out of anger for Bounderby's treatment of Stephen. Sparsit maintains her relentless scrut iny. Sparsit-and partly to irritate Louisa--Bounderby invites her back for future weekend vi sits. from a discreet hiding place. She continues her two-faced attitude to Bounderby. where he is supposed to meet Harthouse. Sparsit. Mrs. Mrs." Mrs. Sparsit cancels he r own trip in order to give the couple the chance to be alone--and therefore eno ugh rope to hang themselves.

Sparsit is certain that Louisa has finally fallen into the aby ss. Cold and drenched to the skin. drenched and breathless. And the mo unting violence of the storm also suggests the rising passion between Harthouse and Louisa. Mrs. Sparsit is nonetheless triumphant. since all his past teaching and philosophy have proved useles s to her. Mrs." She asks him if he remembers the last time they spoke in this her of Bounderby's proposal). but Louisa turns away from him time and again. That sneaking through bushes and standing in the rain to eavesdrop might be beneath h er dignity--and her proud pedigree--never occurs to her. Sparsit peers through the wind ow. but the steadily increasing rain keeps Mrs. only to get off the train and find Louisa is nowhere to be seen. that they arrange to meet later that night. Chapter 15. As the storm rises. She rides to that stop. Cert ain that the young woman is about to elope. Sparsit's expectations that she will finally see Louisa disgraced. Creeping through the shrubbery to the house. she falls to the gr ound in a faint. It was in Book the First. She moves to the nearby woods and there finds what she's l ooking for: Harthouse. watches the storm wondering if the lightning outsi de will strike one of the Coketown chimneys. The events of the chapter would mean the same without the storm. Louisa has left the train at an earlier stop and M rs. Paying little attention to the fact that Louisa appeared to discourage Harthouse 's advances. .the while imagining Louisa "very near the bottom" of the staircase. room (when he told encouragement at t of her fears and d a man as Bounderby She tells him that Harthouse is the first person to understand her. She denounces her upbringin g. She is obsessed with fi nding Louisa guilty. she would have told him what she is telling him now. As the thunder booms and the rain pours. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER XII Gradgrind. Sparsit sees Louisa leave the house. NOTE: You are reminded by Gradgrind's musing of Louisa's identification with fir e throughout the novel. Mrs. however. shaken. Many readers see a parallel between the s torm outside and the inner lives of the characters. She isn't su re if she loves him. She is certain. Could he then have allowed her to marry such ? Gradgrind. that she looked to the chimneys and noted the fire within them. Louisa enters. Mrs. home for vacation. answers that he could not. Sparsit assumes that Louisa is on her way to Coketown. Gradgrind's concern that the chimn eys might be struck by lightning immediately foreshadows Louisa's entrance with news that will appall him. Watch how the storm continues to add tension in the next chapter. so do Mr s. Still crouching in the shrubbery. She begs her father for his help now. with his arms around Louisa! He tells her of his love for her. but they are more vivid and exciting because of Dickens's masterly touch. If he had given her one bit of he time. Plans are made between them . Mrs. Sparsit follows her to the rail road station and gets on the same train. but he loves her and waits for her now. Mrs. reams and hopes. Sparsit has lost her! NOTE: Notice how Dickens adds to the tension and suspense of these scenes by set ting them in the midst of a rainstorm. but all is quiet. accusing her father of taking from her everything that made life more than a "conscious death. She wastes no time in telling him why she is there. Sparsit from hearing them. What can he offer her now? As she pleads with him.

weak and in pain. Louisa pretends to be asleep. We have seen brief glimpses of a human being in his behavior before. This is a remarkable a dmission for a man as proud as Gradgrind. he overdoes it. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER II Harthouse waits impatiently for Louisa. Gradgrind has come face to face w ith the failure of his daughter's upbringing (and has yet to discover that his s on is a thief. saying that Gradgrind "meant to do great thing s. he searches for her in vain. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: BOOK THE THIRD NOTE: "Garnering" is the name of Book the Third. but he is now truly a changed man.Book the Second thus ends with Louisa... he has bee n forced to leave his home. but he is not sure if that is true. This is the "reaping. saddened and inarticulate. She faces Harthouse without fear or agitation and tells him that Louisa will never see him again.. She asks Sissy's forgiveness as the two embrace warmly. He had always thought the head was sufficient to solve all problems. As for Stephen. Then she feels Sissy's tears on her face and is moved that anyone should care for her so deeply. Word of Louisa soon comes. When Sissy offers her lo ve. Gradgrind has he ard that there is a wisdom of the head and a wisdom of the heart. the dams of emotion burst inside Louisa. Bounderby has been deserted by his wife. but now they must re ap what they have sown and are both the worse for it. Both men were smug about this marriage. delivered by Sissy. mystified that she hasn't appeared or se nt word to him. He can scarcely e xpress his regret to Louisa for what has happened to her. Dickens wrote: "." Do you expect a similar change of heart from Bounderby? Louisa is moved by her father's response. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER I Louisa wakes up in her old room. as long as she . As she embraces Sissy. Loui sa has been leaning in the heart's direction for a long time." or harvest. Now. We have seen the reaping of the Bounderby and Gradgrind "crops. Sissy represents the wisdom of the heart that Gradgrind is not sure exists." and the harvesting that resulted in Louisa's failed marriage and Tom's crime. Dickens attest s to his sincerity in this scene. but her upbringing and pride have kept her at a distance. Harthouse returns to th e hotel to continue his anxious waiting. To "garner" is to "store up" th e results of a harvest.there is reason and good intention in much tha t he does--but. a prime product of the Gradgrind/Bounderb y school of thought. in this final book.. She learns from Jane that Sis sy brought her here and stayed the night at her bedside. Gradgrind's reference to the heart and the head points to one of the novel's maj or themes--the need to balance intelligence and emotion to achieve happiness. Sissy comes in as Gradgrind leaves." Elsewhere. you will see what is "garnered"--taken home to s tore for the future--by the main characters. Think back to the ending of the first book. Gradgrind comes into Louisa's room. she symbolically embraces the power of love and all that it can accomplish. she's upset th at Sissy should see her so distraught. and by doing so is falsely accused of a crime. Frustrated. saying that she doesn't blame him and never will. of the seeds sown in the first book. But Gradgrind has no advice in regard to Harthouse. miserable and wretchedly unhappy.

Harthouse is powerless in the face of Sissy's powerful moral char acter.lives. a nd he'll turn over responsibility for her to her father. but Sissy is unmoved. but when she claims to be too weak to offer one. who represents the moral strengt h he lacks." and he i s touched. If there's any incompatibility between them. But Bounderby insists that Louisa return to his house by noon tomorrow . Bounderby assumes that Louisa is merely spoiled. He asks her to keep this business a secret and agrees to leave town. Bounderby insists he has not received due respect or prope r treatment from Louisa. while others point to his history of easy boredom to suggest that he is not strongly committed to anything. By five minutes past noon the next day. Most readers agree. Gradgrind says that he knows what went on between the pair and that the girl is now under his own roof. however. Do you find Harthouse's decision to leave town believable? Do you think he would give up Louisa without a fight? Some readers feel that he is too easily intimid ated by Sissy. He demands an apology. where she has come for protection. Bounderby is outraged at Mrs. then takes her. but Bounderby is firm. When she finds him she spills her news about Louisa--and dramatically faints! Bounderby revives her as best he can. he'll assume she wishes to return to being Louisa Gradgrind." W ith this phrase you'll understand the irony of Harthouse's name! Sissy asks him to leave town as the only reparation he can make to Louisa. that Louisa stay at the Gradgrind ho me for a time. Ushering her into Gradgrind's house . Bounderby confronts Gradgrind and tells him that Mrs. not only by the news but by the purity of the so ul that delivers it. Heading out of town on a railway carriage. that perhaps certain areas of her education have been badly handled. s earches for Bounderby. Pe rhaps it would be best. he orders her back to her home. Dickens tells us. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER III Mrs." on a train into Coketown. Gradgrind advises cauti on. . What other moral men might feel--relief at having escaped before lives were seriously damaged--does n ot faze him at all. stricken by a terrible cold as a result of her spying on Louisa. Harthouse feels uncomfortable at havi ng failed and looking ridiculous to other men of his type. Harthouse is dumbstruck. His leaving is the only way to compensate for the damag e he has done. Sparsit for putting him in such an embarrassing po sition. Sparsit has something sh ocking to tell him about Harthouse and Louisa. Harth ouse protests that he has political business in Coketown that must be attended t o. "more dead than alive. he fumes. "in the cavity where his heart should have been. that for the purposes of the novel (particularly if you see it as an allegory) it is imp ortant for Harthouse to be confronted by Sissy. Gradgrind suggests that they both might have misunderst ood her. it comes from Louisa's lack of appreciation for her husb and! Gradgrind moves to end the conversation before either of them says something reg rettable. The pang he feels in the place where his heart should be suggests th at even Harthouse is moved by the wisdom of the heart that Sissy embodies. Bounderby sends Louisa's possessions to the Gradgrind house and he resumes his bachelor life. Harthouse admits that he does not want to become Louisa's "persecutor. he tells Bounderby. If she doesn't. Alone with Gradgrind. Sparsit.

wonders who is guilty if Stephen is not. but Stephen has already left. the mails hav e been watched. and Rachael finally goes to the bank to give Bounderby Stephen's last address. Pegler. Louisa can tell the story so much better. this only proves the man's guilt. More time passes. Bounderby. Sparsit is getting out of a carriage. As another week passes. Cold and dis tant. Most of the Coketown ci tizens are bored with the topic and assume Stephen is guilty. w ho has remained silent the entire time. she wrote to Stephen to urge him to come ho me within two days to clear his name. As Rachael speaks. occasionally coug hing to signal Louisa not to say anything that might incriminate him. helped by Sissy's support. Tom. the woman sus pected of being Stephen's accomplice! . Rachael begins to wonder if there is someone in Coketown who would be proven gui lty by Stephen's return. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER V Sissy goes to Rachael's room every night to comfort her. uses the poster at a meeting to show what happens to a m an who betrays the union. The re Mrs. he adds. certain that he will come back on hi s own. Tom becomes increasingly nervous and upset. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER IV Bounderby buries his unhappiness in his work. and no letters have left Coketown addressed to Stephen Blackpool . and she insists that the two women come into the house with her. Rachael explains that Stephen is living under an assumed name--the only way he can get work. The robbery is his chief source of concern. Mrs. For Bounderby. could Stephen have been murdered on his way back ? One evening as Rachael is walking Sissy home. and he offers a reward for Stephen's arrest. Besides. She leaves with Sissy's promise to visit her the next night.NOTE: Dickens never brings up the specific question of divorce between Louisa an d Bounderby. The same evening. When Rachael read the reward poster. The workers are abuzz when the reward notice is posted all over town. and Rachael come to visit Louisa. Rachael ha s been claiming certain things that Tom refuses to comment on. It is implied that a divorce never takes place. Sparsit has found Mrs. the town beg ins to wonder if Rachael's letter to Stephen was sent as a warning to escape. Gradgrind. Louisa confirms Rachael's words. Rachael refuses to reveal where Stephen is. they pass the Bounderby house. Slackbridg e. Tom stays quietly in the background. Is there a legal co mplication or a moral objection on the part of husband or wife? The answer is ne ver given. Bounderby faces Louisa for the first time since they separated. the union organizer. Rachael reminds Louisa of the evening that she and her brother visited Stephen's room. Tom insists that he could not say anything to B ounderby because he had promised Louisa not to--which is true. If so. But Rachael's fait h remains strong. Bounderby won't believe her. Messengers are sent t o the place. And where is the criminal? Two days go by with no word from Stephen.

But Louisa worries that Tom is the person who would benefit if Stephen neve r returned. NOTE: Dickens's reference to Mrs. One man descends into the pit and comes out minutes later with the news that Ste phen is alive. Soon they have roused nearby villagers. but there is n o answer. Sp arsit's feelings! She brought Mrs. Pegler is astonished. Bounderby is with Gradgrind and Tom. Pegler swears to Bounderby that she told no one he was her son. and near the footprints. Gradgrind. Investigating it further. Sparsit's valiant effor ts to find Mrs. Rachael becomes hysterica l. Pegler. Rachael. In desperation the two women separate and look for help. She agreed to go with Mrs. For many years he has pa id his mother a pension to stay out of his life. The common thought is that there is little hope that whoever is in the pit has s urvived. and the villagers gath er equipment to pull Stephen out of the pit. who spread the word that someone has fal len down the Old Hell Shaft. By the time a device for hoisting the body is erected. Sissy spots a rotten piece of fence that looks recently broken. Her yearly visits to Coketown w ere her only opportunity to see him--and then only from a distance. As for Mrs. he condemns Mrs. Along the path. A highly embarrassed Bounderby refuses to discuss any family business with those present. Certain that Stephen is there. Sissy and Rachael take a walk in the woods. and Mrs. Later. Venturing cautiously. Sissy shares the suspicion. What can he say now that he's revealed as a fraud? And imagine Mrs. And the doubt still lingers: if Stephen is innocent. First Sissy and then Rachael call into the mine several times. Sparsit--and an audience of neighbors!--is one of the minor plot conve niences that many find a bit hard to believe. Pegler into the house. Tom. A message is sent to Louisa. Pegler's innocence is a good sign for Step hen. if he is down there. Sparsit for interfering. Pe gler. where is he? ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER VI On a lovely Sunday morning. Sissy. Gradgrind points out that Mrs.Mrs. The poll ution of Coketown is so intense that they must take a train several miles out of town to find clean air. they come upon the open pi t of an abandoned mine. Mrs. she says. Stephen has told his rescuer that he fell on the . Pegler is Bounderby's mother. a hat w ith Stephen Blackpool's name on it. Bounderby wa s given every opportunity their poor family could afford. The Slough of Despond is an allegorica l symbol for the most intense state of despair. The grandmot her who supposedly raised him had actually died before he was born. she beams and addresses Bounderby as "My darling boy!" NOTE: You've probably guessed long ago that Mrs. Pegler hoping to atone for her failed attempt s to prove that Louisa was an adulteress. Tom. Gradgrind wonders how Mrs. T he fact that his humiliation happens in front of Gradgrind. and instead of being thrilled at Mrs. Mrs. Sparsit only when the other woman threatened to call the police. Louisa. afraid of what they might find. Sparsit drags the protesting Mrs. they find footprints. and Bounderb y was apprenticed to a kind master at the age of eight. but the two women never discuss the matt er. and Bounderby have arrived from town. Sparsit in the Slough of Despond is taken from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (1678). Pegler has the nerve to claim Bounderby as her son af ter her cruel treatment of him as a boy. but badly hurt.

If you agree. The presence of the star suggests that there may be peace in heaven for Stephen. Stephen calls Rachael's attention to a star above them. The dignified Gradgrind sits ludicrously in a clown's chair. he tells Rachael that the pit that has caused his dea th had killed thousands when it was in use. with Gradgrind using a different route to avoid Bounderby's suspicions. Sleary tells the visitors to return with Gradgrind after the show. far more than he ever had on earth. As they move slowly along. but somehow is a "wiser" and "better" man." he says. then l ocks himself in his office. you might find Stephen's death less th an moving. you might feel as saddened as many of Dickens's contemp oraries were. but Bounderby reports that the boy has disappeared. Louisa asks about Tom. suggesting that he question Tom h ow that might be done. arrivin g in time to sit through the show as they await Sleary. When Gradgrind returns home. kept aliv e by scraps of food in his pocket. Some would say that the symbolism is too obvious. Gradgrind promises Bounderby that he will soon prove Stephen's innocence. and Sissy into the tent. From there Tom could be sent to a safe. Stephen is finally pulled from the shaft. Sleary. wearing silly clothes and comic makeup. After a painful wait. Sleary ushers Gradgrind. Louisa. But now he is a lowly performer. On a back bench. She promised that Sleary would hide him until she arrived. NOTE: With his death. none of this would have happened. Sissy. that it is another example of Dickens's use of allegory overwhelming th e credibility of the story. Among the characters performing are two servants in black makeup. distant place. Stephen then asks Gradgrind to clear his name. The troupe that he once looked on with disapproval and cond escension has saved his son from arrest. the rescue party bec omes a funeral procession. still in a ridiculous costume and weari ng black makeup. It's all "a muddle. Feeling certain that Tom robbed the bank. If it weren't. Unlike the coincidence of Stephen falli . Gradgrind sits on a clown chair. Tom is discovered in the ve ry place we met him--at Sleary's Horse-riding. as sullen as ever. and it has helped him to clear away some of the muddle. Sissy and Louisa travel to the circus together. It is Sissy who provides the answer. and the performers have a joyful reunion. Dickens milks the scene for every last bit of irony. Stephen is dead. one used to provide the coal for the steam engine s that are so much a part of Coketown. It made him think of Rachael. one that gave him hope as he was lyin g in the pit.way to Bounderby's after dark. Louisa and Gradgrind wonder how to fin d him. It is not accidental that he dies in an abandoned mine. He emerges the next mornin g looking older. At the site of Stephen's accident. One of them is Tom. The two women journey all night. weak and near de ath. and he asks to hold Rachael's hand. he sends for his son. and Sleary takes her and Sissy to a peephole to watch one of the acts in progres s. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER VII Tom has slipped away from the crowd surrounding Stephen. and now it kills again. Stephen's martyrdom is complete. Hours later. sits Tom. He's been lying there for several days. If you don't. s he whispered in Tom's ear a suggestion that he escape to Sleary's circus and tol d him how to find it. refusing company or food. Barely able to speak. Some of the villagers carry Stephen out of the field.

Don't the percentages suggest that a certain number of peop le in trustworthy positions will turn out to be dishonest? Tom is throwing into his father's face all that he has been taught by him. His reply is vintage Gradgrind philosophy! Sleary offers to drive Tom and Bitzer to the railway station. Merrylegs. The return of the dog has shown Sleary once again that there is love in the worl d. Sissy's father's dog. But the school is over and he owes no more. and it was a bargain. but the circus own er has a trick up his sleeve to help Tom escape. He suggests that Sissy not be told. and that the ways of love are as mysterious as those of a dog. Gradgrind offers Bitzer money. Make the best of things. for it would only break her heart. Just as Tom is about to escape. sir. Bitzer plans to take Tom back to Bounderby in hopes of being promoted to Tom's o ld job. the dreadful Bitzer appears! He's tracked them d own. not the worst. Sleary knows that Mr. Sleary suggests. but the greedy one has already calculated that he can make more money from the promotion. But he doesn't think his father should be surprised. couldn't be car ried on without one. lame and almost blind. refusing to be outsmarted by circus people. he can' t be more unhappy than he is right now. Jupe is dead. Gradgrind gives what little reward Sleary will accept for his troupe. not just self-interest. Doesn't the young man have a heart? Bitzer replies like the prize student he was in school: "The circulation. Tom agrees. The school was pa id for. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER VIII Gradgrind pleads with Bitzer. He asks him not to be too hard on vagabonds such as they. because the dog would never leave its master. Gradgrind makes one more plea for Bitzer's mercy." Again Gradgrind's careful theories backfire in his face. He repeats the advice he gave in Book the First. Chapter 6: people need to be amused as much as they need to learn or to work. this scene is applauded by most readers as both plausible a nd moving. Why do you think many find it to be so effective? Gradgrind is saddened that his "model" son should be brought to this. Bitzer is unmoved. The next morning Sleary reports that his plan has worked. Sleary ask s to talk to him. Louisa is devastated. accusing her of betraying hi m when he needed her most. When Louisa tries to embrace him. He grabs Tom by the collar and won't let him go. returned to the company. Sparsit for having accidentally brought his past . Sleary has a plan to sneak him out of to wn disguised as a carter (a country farmhand). Sleary has some parting advice for Gradgrind. Some months ago. he explains. Tom is on a ship bound for another into a coal mine. reminding him of all the hard work lavished on him in Gradgrind's school. How d o you feel about Gradgrind here? Is he getting what he deserves? Or have you com e to see him as less evil and more misguided? Gradgrind tells Tom that he must be sent out of the country. Tom turns on her. Tom admits with typical bad temper to stealing the money. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: CHAPTER IX Bounderby is furious with Mrs.

Mrs. Sparsit will lead a bickering. Pegler to Coketown. Sparsit. no magic formula cleans the air or the water or the skies. Sparsit returns insult for insult. Bounderby's plan to wound Mrs. He decides to fire her as the most damaging life by returning Mrs. The ending i s one of the reasons Hard Times is considered by many to be Dickens's harshest. a parish official who keeps order during the ser vices. Sparsit backfires when he discovers she's hate d him for a long time. like the exaggerated cartoons Dickens created f or The Pickwick Papers. CENTAUR A mythical beast with the head. Bounderby and Mrs. because they are friend s. BRUTUS A Roman politician. Readers have pointed out that Bounde rby and Gradgrind seem to come from two different modes of writing. most bitter novel. He is a wiser man for his experiences. ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: GLOSSARY ADAM SMITH One of Thomas Gradgrind's younger sons. CARTER A country bumpkin. Only Sissy--the wisdom of the heart from the very first--seems completely fulfilled. (The same might be said of Mrs. That they inhabit the same book suggests to some that Dickens is inconsistent in his characterizations. on the other hand. Others delight in the fact that the universe of a Dickens nov el can embrace both types successfully. There is no such wisdom for Bounderby." And with that she sweeps out of the room and out of Bounderby's life. for all of his money and her breeding. all of whom he murdered. Bounderby is a character from comic fiction.) Gradgrind. Lady Scadgers. waits on the clergyman. one who makes candles. CHANDLER Someone who sells trinkets door-to-door. She replies that nothing a "noodle" says or does should ever surprise--"noodles " can only "inspire contempt. it may seem that Bounderby and Gradgrind are very much alike. NOTE: GRADGRIND AND BOUNDERBY Have you noticed a difference in the way Gradgrin d and Bounderby are each handled in the novel? At first. is more fully drawn. etc. trunk. Sparsit on her way. also. Sparsit. They are reduced to insults and name-callin g. closer to the realistic techniques of Dickens's later novels. . named after the British econ omist whose doctrine of laissez-faire Dickens felt resulted in many of the abuse s of the Industrial Revolution. As for the citizens of Coketown. Bounderby sends Mrs. ALDERNY A breed of dairy cattle. What some of the characters learn about themselves is not enough to make a difference in the town's miserable existence. greedy humbug he was at the very first. BLUEBEARD A fictional character known for having several wives. and arms of a man and the body a nd legs of a horse. no solution is found for the greed of the employers or the manipulation of the union. Suggesting she go to her wealthy relation. BEADLE In the Anglican church. But you have se en how a rude awakening has changed Gradgrind for the better. Life is much as it was when the novel began. He is the same pompo us. He is always the same and never grows as a human being. Mrs. The rest of the novel looks to the future. one of the men who assassinated Julius Caesar. p enny-pinching life with Lady Scadgers. can't keep th eir final argument on a polite tone. Tom Gradgrind's disguise when he attempts to flee the country.

nonelective House of Parliament. GORGON A hideous woman. OGRE A monster in fairy tales and fables. EQUESTRIAN Pertaining to horses or horsemanship. breeding. which are full of advice about educat ion. usually represented as a hideous gian t. In Greek mythology. HORSE-RIDING A traveling circus specializing in horse acts. FAIRY PALACES Dickens's ironic name for the Coketown factories. her techniques are com pared to those of M'Choakumchild. seen as a symbol of eternal loyalty. GAMING Gambling. LIGHT PORTER Messenger. Jupe's dog. MORGIANA Ali Baba's servant in the Arabian Nights tales. OLD HELL SHAFT The name of the abandoned mine shaft into which Stephen Blackpoo l falls. also. PEGASUS A mythical flying horse. the means Mrs." DOCTORS COMMONS The law courts that specialized in divorce cases in nineteenthcentury England. MERRYLEGS Mr. MALTHUS British mathematician whose theories on population Dickens found object ionable and dangerous. Bitzer's job at Bounderby's bank. EDWIN Famous British mathematician whose accuracy was so respected that the phrase "according to Cocker" came to mean "according to fact. MISANTHROPE A person who hates mankind. famous for his letters to his son. LORD HARRY The devil. LORD CHESTERFIELD Philip Dormer Stanhope. and morals. HOUSE OF LORDS The upper. the fourth earl of Chesterfield (1694 -1773). "HANDS" Collective name for Coketown factory employees. HOUSE OF COMMONS The lower house of British Parliament. a Gorgon was a woman with serpents growing from her head. HEY-GO-MAD Very excited. . MORRIS To run away.COCKER. GRACES Three goddesses associated with the enjoyment of life. whose representatives a re elected. PARLIAMENTARY A train that provided the cheapest way of travel. the name given to one of Gradgrind's younger sons. Pegler uses to get from her home to Coketown. given because t hey resemble glittering palaces when seen from a speeding train.

but. a city of ancient Greece. Dickens's term for Tom Gradgrind. which polluted the atmosphere. WINDLASS A device used for hoisting. It is not Industry per se that Dickens is fighting. STONE LODGE The Gradgrind family home. rejected. PROFESSOR OWEN Sir Richard Owen. PLAY OLD GOOSEBERRY To play havoc. STROLLER An itinerant performer. It portrays figures as remarkable for t heir individuality as any in the whole of Dickens. usually professionally. TOWER OF BABEL A tower erected in the ancient city of Babel whose purpose was t o reach God. usually one considered a delicacy. they serve the considerations of Theme. allowed open mine-shafts to fester. for the most part. And the Theme is one capable of engaging seri ous attention. Bleak House alone excepted. the result was a confusion of languages. VIANDS An article of food. PUGILIST A person who fights with his fists.PHYSIC A medicine that purges. Jr. ROBINSON CRUSOE Hero of Daniel Defoe's famous novel. from John Bunyan's Pilg rim's Progress (1678). SPARTAN Of or pertaining to the people of Sparta. a laxative. e . Hard Times will stand up to a critical reading far better than any earlier novel of Dickens. written in 1719. SENT TO COVENTRY Shunned. considered a delicacy to eat. usually having a horizontal dram on which a rope attached to the load is wound. provisions. WHELP The offspring of an animal. Blackpool. tells of a shipwrecked man who creates his own civilization on a deserted island. Utilitarianis m. PUBLIC HOUSE A tavern with rooms for renting. VICTUALS Food supplies. SLOUGH OF DESPOND An allegorical state of deep despair. rather lai ssez-faire. VENUS Roman goddess of love and beauty. and that this creed extends itself in practice into the irresponsible develop ment of Industry. said of Mrs. POSTILION A person who rides the horse on the left of the leading pair when fou r or more horses are used to draw a carriage. usually attached to a building as a porch. It is tripartite in character: that the paranoid temperament fosters a paranoid creed. PORTICO A structure consisting of a roof supported by columns. SWEETBREADS The pancreas of a calf or lamb. a well-known expert on comparative anatomy. said of Stephen Blackpool when he refuses t o join the union. Spa rtans were known for their discipline and bravery in the face of danger. For Dickens has made a highly serious claim.

Sleary undoubtedly is seen as embodying the novel's positive values. Leavis called "the confutation of Utilitarianism by li fe. Society itself cannot survive under such circumstances. are not those where he i s most engaged with his moral fable or intent (if we think. it follows that the people of Coketown are as good as dead. perception. mistakenly. -Philip Hobsbaum. 1972 [Hard Times] seems to me an unsuccessful novel. village artisans. Thquire. Hard Times. and he makes of them mere cyphers. and I think it is a sort of thesis-novel. if what is best in this novel is reviewed generally. crackles with life. is a mere figment of the middle-class imagination. Dickens knew certain classes of working folk very well: domestic servants. worn out by the terribly wearisome and trying w ork of going from place to place repeating the same commonplaces and trying to " stoke up" meetings to enthusiasm with them. and sharpness. the trade union or ganizer. the questions it propounds are still with us. A Reader's Guide to Charles Dickens. they appear when he comes near to being least engrossed with such t hings. But even at th eir worst trade union organizers are not a bit like Slackbridge. I t is the most flawed of Dickens's classics. Dickens marks out his enemies. Not that such meetings are l ess susceptible to humbug than meetings of any other class. It has a bleakly deterministic view of the hopelessness of the human situation. -John Holloway. "Hard Times. Not industry alone is in question. they ain't made for it. The Melancholy Man. but it is still a classic. but the philosophy operating behind it. For the passages in Hard Times where Dickens most shows his genius. The answe rs of Hard Times may be invalid. that he is so at all) on what Dr. And in terms of what the novel proposes. They can't be alwayth a learning nor yet they can't be a lways a working.. . in short. the master of drama in spectacle and setting and action. are less apt than other politicians to end as windbags.." Dickens and the Twentieth Century. Gradgri nd and Bounderby. and it is true. "Your sister's training has been pursued according to the system" sa ys the broken Gradgrind. when he is the Dickens who appears throughout the novels: the master of d ialogue that. is most freely himself. No such man would be listened to by a meeting of English factory hands. Not. one real failure in the book. 1970 In fact. and sometimes to depend on stimulants to pull them through t heir work. however. is Dickens's attack u pon the System by which the claims of individual human beings are trampled in a general melee. the circus-owner Sleary remarks to Gradgrind that people mutht be amused. even through its stylization. predictable. Not that trade union organizers. and for fairly obvious reasons. then. but his rem ark is feebly prescriptive. The chance of "fun" is infinitely remote from the li ves of the Coketowners. 1962 ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: DICKENS AND TRADE UNIONS There is. You mutht have us. Slackbridge.mployed or starved workers according to the market without any sense of human ne ed or potential." Rather. it cannot but sugg est reflections which extend beyond itself. possibly. But between them they represent a way of life which is meant to be powerful enough to squeeze out all hope for human decency.. that the trade union platform is any less humbug-ridde n than the platforms of our more highly placed political parties. At the end of the novel. -John Lucas. hateful and ea sily condemned.

both because she has never been an actively. There is a formality and solemnity in the language. it does so in the unradiant imagery of death. Coketown can be re membered in the last lines of Hard Times as the slums are not at the end of Oliv er Twist or Bleak House. In other words.'" (1912). in Dickens 1970 ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: STEPHEN BLACKPOOL Blackpool himself is a further experiment in the direction of the fully achieved emblematicism of A Tale of Two Cities. It would take more than a visit to Preston or H anley to dramatize this in any depth of detail. Stephen. a predicament. not too deep. -Geoffrey Thurley. in fact. More could h ave been made of the mine-shaft down which he falls: it ought to have been fence d in after it had been finished with. just right for Coketown. More could have bee n made of Stephen's scanty income and conditions of labour at the mill.. -Barbara Hardy. but also points two ways for the Dear reader. It has no damaging bri ght glow of a future happiness for Louisa. but capable of functioning as a symbolic. of the end of disaster. "Introduction to 'Hard Times. 1971 ^^^^^^^^^^HARD TIMES: THE ENDING OF HARD TIMES It is the only conclusion in all Dickens that allows only the reserved "happy en ding" of peace. he stands for a situatio n. just as. even the children on the last page are tolerable. 1976 There are so many things that Dickens could have done with Stephen. only a symbolically. But of the segregated factory po pulations of our purely industrial towns he knew no more than an observant profe ssional man can pick up on a flying visit to Manchester. . We must avoid any temptation to condemn him as unreal. of passion spent. yet some such undertaking ought to have been at the heart of the book. Dickens is doing somethin g difficult and unprecedented here. with no heavenly sunset glow but gray ashes. either. but the victim of a broken-down marriage. a vox humana with a difference. for example. in Dickens: The Critical Heritage. For once. shrill or ecstatic. "The Complexity of Dickens" (1970). and a turnin g away from grand climax. almost an a bstract term in an argument. and recognize a perfectly valid literary mode. It is si gnificant that never once in this industrial novel does Dickens show us the day to day life of men in a factory. a class. without having to exist for us in quite the same way as Louisa or Sissy exist for us. since the human discovery has not ca ncelled out the world of Coketown. its firedamp and pro pensity towards explosion could have been countered with protective devices: but at no point does Dickens erect it into a social indictment. not a social vict im. The moral suggestiveness is optimistic.and employees of petty tradesmen. The Dickens Myth. . and its quiet and reserve. Sissy's happy ending is not damaging. Though the last sentence s peaks for the Better way. when in use. is not dramatized as ar chetypal working man so much as a personification of a victim. -George Bernard Shaw. and this is right. prominent cha racter. but not only d oes the quieter language underline the mere spectator's solace that remains for Louisa.. also because her happy marriage is brought in to emphasize Louisa's lack of glow. he is creating a character real by the stand ards of Victorian realism.

-Philip Hobsbaum. 1972 THE END . A Reader's Guide to Charles Dickens.

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