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BOOK THE FIRST - SOWING
Hard Times, by Charles Dickens. When Hard Times appeared as a serial in Household Words in 1854, Dickens was about midway in his literary career. In the same year this novel appeared in an octavo volume with a dedication to Thomas Carlyle. Its purpose, according to Dickens himself, was to satirize «those who see figures and averages and nothing else-the representatives of the wickedest and most enormous vice of this time-the men who through long years to come will do more to damage the really useful facts of Political Economy than I could do (if I tried) in my whole life.» The satire, however, like much that Dickens attempted in the same vein, was not very bitter.
The characters in Hard Times are not numerous; and the plot itself is less intricate than others by the same author.
The chief figures. are Mr. Thomas Gradgrind, «a man of realities,» with his unbounded faith in statistics; Louisa, his eldest daughter; and Josiah Bounderby, as practical as Mr. Gradgrind, but less kind-hearted. Louisa, though many years younger than Mr. Bounderby, is persuaded by her father to marry him. She is also influenced in making this marriage by her desire to smooth the path of her brother Tom, a clerk in Mr.
Bounderby's office. Though not happy, she resists the blandishments of James Harthouse, a professed friend of her husband's. To escape him she bas to go home to her father; and this leads to a permanent estrangement between husband and wife. In the mean time Tom Gradgrind has stolen money from Bounderby, and to avoid punishment mns away from England. Thus Louisa's sacrifice of herself has been useless. Mr.
Gradgrind's wife, and his other children, play an unimportant part in the story.
Of more consequence is Sissy (Cecilia) Jupe, whom the elder Gradgrind has befriended in spite of her being the daughter of a circus clown; and Mrs. Sparsit, Bounderby's housekeeper, who has seen better days, and is overpowering with her relationship to Lady Scadgers.
Then there are Mr. McChoakumchild, the statistical school-teacher; Bitzer, the satisfactory pupil; and Mr. Sleary and his daughter Josephine, as the most conspicuous of the minor characters. Mrs.
Pegler, the mother of Josiah Bounderby, is a curious and amusing figure; while a touch of pathos is given by the love of Stephen Blackpool the weaver, for Rachel, whom he cannot marry because his erring wife still lives.
Mr. Gradgtind came to see the fallacy of mere statistics; but Josiah Bounder by, the self-made man, who loved to belittle his own origin, never admitted that he could be wrong. When he died, Louisa was still young enough to repair her early mistake by a second and happier marriage. .
Hannah, by Dinah Mulock (Craik), 1871. This story, the scene of which is laid in England, with a short episode in France, finds its motive in the vexed question of marriage with a deceased wife's sister. The Rev. Bernard Rivers, at the death of his young wife Rosa, invites her sister, Hannah Thelluson, to take charge of his home and baby daughter. Hannah, a sweet and gentle woman of thirty, with a passionate love for children, resigns her position as governess, and accepts the offer, that she may bring up her little niece. The Rivers family, as well as all the parish, strongly disapprove the new arrangement; but Hannah, recognizing the fact tbat, in the eye of the law, she is Bernard's sister, sees no harm in it.
Soon, however, she finds herself in love with Bernard, who returns her affection.
After passing through much misery and unhappiness, as well as scandalous notoriety, the lovers separate, and Hannah takes little Rosie to France, whither they are soon followed by Mr. Rivers. Here they decide to marry, even though they must henceforth live in exile.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER I - THE ONE THING NEEDFUL
CHAPTER II - MURDERING THE INNOCENTS
CHAPTER III - A LOOPHOLE
CHAPTER IV - MR. BOUNDERBY
CHAPTER V - THE KEYNOTE
CHAPTER VI - SLEARY'S HORSEMANSHIP
CHAPTER VII - MRS. SPARSIT
CHAPTER VIII - NEVER WONDER
CHAPTER IX - SISSY'S PROGRESS
CHAPTER X - STEPHEN BLACKPOOL
CHAPTER XI - NO WAY OUT
CHAPTER XII - THE OLD WOMAN
CHAPTER XIII - RACHAEL
CHAPTER XIV - THE GREAT MANUFACTURER
CHAPTER XV - FATHER AND DAUGHTER
CHAPTER XVI - HUSBAND AND WIFE
CHAPTER I - EFFECTS IN THE BANK
CHAPTER II - MR. JAMES HARTHOUSE
CHAPTER III - THE WHELP
CHAPTER IV - MEN AND BROTHERS
CHAPTER V - MEN AND MASTERS
CHAPTER VI - FADING AWAY
CHAPTER VII - GUNPOWDER
CHAPTER VIII - EXPLOSION
CHAPTER IX - HEARING THE LAST OF IT
CHAPTER X - MRS. SPARSIT'S STAIRCASE
CHAPTER XI - LOWER AND LOWER
CHAPTER XII - DOWN
CHAPTER I - ANOTHER THING NEEDFUL
CHAPTER II - VERY RIDICULOUS
CHAPTER III - VERY DECIDED
CHAPTER IV - LOST
CHAPTER V - FOUND
CHAPTER VI - THE STARLIGHT
CHAPTER VII - WHELP-HUNTING
CHAPTER VIII - PHILOSOPHICAL
CHAPTER IX - FINAL