Hard Times

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  • Literary Studies (19th Century)


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A novel by Dickens, published 1854.

Thomas Gradgrind, a citizen of Coketown, a northern industrial city, is a misguided exponent of utilitarianism, who believes in facts and statistics and brings up his children Louisa and Tom accordingly. He marries Louisa to Josiah Bounderby, a manufacturer 30 years older than herself. Louisa consents partly from the indifference and cynicism engendered by her father's treatment, partly from a desire to help her brother, who is employed by Bounderby. James Harthouse, a young politician without heart or principles, taking advantage of her unhappy life with Bounderby, attempts to seduce her. The better side of her nature is awakened at this experience, and she flees for protection to her father, who in turn is awakened to the folly of his system. He shelters her from Bounderby and the couple are permanently separated. But Tom has robbed the bank of his employer, and though he contrives for a time to throw suspicion on a blameless artisan, Stephen Blackpool, is finally detected and hustled out of the country. Among the notable minor characters are Sleary, the proprietor of a circus, and Cissy Jupe, whose father had been a performer in his troupe; also Mrs Sparsit, Bounderby's venomous and intriguing housekeeper.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century).

Reference entries

Charles Dickens (1812—1870) novelist

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