This gives the connotations of boredom and a stereotypical lecture theatre in a school. He uses this device to make the description seem more real and to make it more engaging to read. Another device Dickens uses regularly is the simile; he uses this to describe certain aspects of characters. He uses a plum pie because many people can relate to plum pies and have experienced them.
Table of Contents Plot Overview Thomas Gradgrind, a wealthy, retired merchant in the industrial city of Coketown, England, devotes his life to a philosophy of rationalism, self-interest, and fact. He raises his oldest children, Louisa and Tom, according to this philosophy and never allows them to engage in fanciful or imaginative pursuits.
He founds a school and charitably takes in one of the students, the kindly and imaginative Sissy Jupe, after the disappearance of her father, a circus entertainer. As the Gradgrind children grow older, Tom becomes a dissipated, self-interested hedonist, and Louisa struggles with deep inner confusion, feeling as though she is missing something important in her life.
Bounderby continually trumpets his role as a self-made man who was abandoned in the gutter by his mother as an infant.
Tom is apprenticed at the Bounderby bank, and Sissy remains at the Gradgrind home to care for the younger children. He is unable to marry her because he is already married to a horrible, drunken woman who disappears for months and even years at a time.
Stephen visits Bounderby to ask about a divorce but learns that only the wealthy can obtain them. Pegler, a strange old woman with an inexplicable devotion to Bounderby.
James Harthouse, a wealthy young sophisticate from London, arrives in Coketown to begin a political career as a disciple of Gradgrind, who is now a Member of Parliament.
He immediately takes an interest in Louisa and decides to try to seduce her.
With the unspoken aid of Mrs. Sparsit, a former aristocrat who has fallen on hard times and now works for Bounderby, he sets about trying to corrupt Louisa. The Hands, exhorted by a crooked union spokesman named Slackbridge, try to form a union.
Only Stephen refuses to join because he feels that a union strike would only increase tensions between employers and employees. He is cast out by the other Hands and fired by Bounderby when he refuses to spy on them.
Tom accompanies her and tells Stephen that if he waits outside the bank for several consecutive nights, help will come to him.
Stephen does so, but no help arrives. Eventually he packs up and leaves Coketown, hoping to find agricultural work in the country. Not long after that, the bank is robbed, and the lone suspect is Stephen, the vanished Hand who was seen loitering outside the bank for several nights just before disappearing from the city.
Sparsit witnesses Harthouse declaring his love for Louisa, and Louisa agrees to meet him in Coketown later that night. She collapses to the floor, and Gradgrind, struck dumb with self-reproach, begins to realize the imperfections in his philosophy of rational self-interest.
Sissy, who loves Louisa deeply, visits Harthouse and convinces him to leave Coketown forever. Bounderby, furious that his wife has left him, redoubles his efforts to capture Stephen.
When Stephen tries to return to clear his good name, he falls into a mining pit called Old Hell Shaft. Rachael and Louisa discover him, but he dies soon after an emotional farewell to Rachael. Gradgrind and Louisa realize that Tom is really responsible for robbing the bank, and they arrange to sneak him out of England with the help of the circus performers with whom Sissy spent her early childhood.
Sparsit, anxious to help Bounderby find the robbers, drags Mrs. Pegler—a known associate of Stephen Blackpool—in to see Bounderby, thinking Mrs. Pegler is a potential witness.
Bounderby recoils, and it is revealed that Mrs. Pegler is really his loving mother, whom he has forbidden to visit him: Bounderby is not a self-made man after all.
Angrily, Bounderby fires Mrs.In the meantime, an impoverished “Hand”—Dickens’s term for the lowest laborers in Coketown’s factories—named Stephen Blackpool struggles with his love for Rachael, another poor factory worker. Charles Dickens was born in and was the second of 8 children.
He led an unprivileged childhood as his father was sent to jail for debt, this meant that Dickens briefly had to work at a blacking warehouse at the age of only twelve because of this.
Summary of Hard Times by Charles Dickens. Below is a list of Hard Times Cliff Notes and Hard Times SparkNotes. Not looking for a Hard Times summary? Search above for other chapter summaries, curated from popular sites like SparkNotes and Cliff Notes. Coketown from ‘Hard Times’ by Charles Dickens Read the following extract from ‘Hard Times’ by Charles Dickens, and then Discuss the way he depicts the City.
Coketown, to which Messrs.
Bounderby and Gradgrind now walked, was a triumph of fact; it had . There are many popular works of Dickens such as Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop, Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit, Dombey and Son, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Hard Times, Little Dorrit, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Our Mutual Friend.
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A guide to reading Hard Times with a critical and appreciative mind encouraging analysis of plot, style, formReviews: