Louisa Gradgrind, the Heroine
There are many different protagonists in the story “Hard Times” as many of the characters play an important role in the story however the characters that have the greatest influence upon the story line include that of Mr.Gradgrind, Thomas Gradgrind, Louisa Gradgrind, Josiah Bounderby, Stephen Blackpool and Cecelia Jupe. I believe Dickens has chosen the fates of the protagonists of the story by looking at their various characteristics meaning a negative character will have a negative ending and a positive character will have a positive ending. Louisa Gradgrind is the character to be considered the most influential protagonist of Dickens’ Hard Times. We watch Louisa, Gradgrind's daughter and human guinea pig, grow from about twelve to about twenty-two years old. Her father, Mr. Gradgrind, raises her to disregard emotions and see everything in terms of facts or statistics. She becomes trapped in a loveless marriage, almost has an affair, and spends the rest of her life trying to learn to be a normal human being with feelings. Every other character is one degree of separation away from her. There is almost no one that she is not a foil for or a comparison to. She is the female version of Tom (though unlike him, who is universally shown to be a selfish jerk, she seems to have been able to go either way). Louisa is the opposite of the emotionally competent Sissy. To Mrs. Sparsit, Louisa becomes the wife to Bounderby that Mrs. Sparsit doesn't get to be. We also see that Louisa is ruined by the same system that destroys Stephen Blackpool. She has been taught to abnegate her emotions, and finds it hard to express herself clearly, saying as a child she has "unmanageable thoughts." She simply does not know how to recognize and express her emotions. For instance, when her father tries to convince her that it would be rational for her to marry Bounderby, Louisa looks out of the window at the factory chimneys and observes: “There...
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