Hard Times

Topics: Hard Times / Pages: 55 (13654 words) / Published: May 16th, 2013
Key Facts full title: Hard Times for These Times

author: Charles Dickens

type of work: Novel

genre: Victorian novel; realist novel; satire; dystopia

language: English

time and place written: 1854, London

date of first publication: Published in serial instalments in Dickens’s magazine Household Words between April 1 and August 12, 1854

publisher: Charles Dickens

narrator: The anonymous narrator serves as a moral authority. By making moral judgments about the characters, the narrator shapes our interpretations of the novel.

point of view: The narrator speaks in the third person and has a limited omniscience. He knows what is going on in all places and at all times, but he sometimes speculates about what the characters might be feeling and thinking, suggesting, at those times, that he does not actually know.

tone: The narrator’s tone varies drastically, but it is frequently ironic, mocking, and even satirical, especially when he describes Bounderby, Harthouse, and Mrs. Sparsit. When describing Stephen and Rachael, his tone is pathetic, evoking sympathy.

tense: The narrative is presented in the past tense; however, at the end, the narrator reveals what the future will bring to each of the main characters.

setting (time): The middle of the nineteenth century

setting (place): Coketown, a manufacturing town in the south of England

protagonist: Louisa Gradgrind

major conflict: Louisa Gradgrind struggles to reconcile the fact-driven self-interest of her upbringing with the warmth of feeling that she witnesses both in Sissy Jupe and developing within herself. As this attitude changes, Louisa is caught between allegiances to her family and loveless marriage and her desire to transcend the emotional and personal detachment of her past.

rising action: Sissy joins the Gradgrind household, and Louisa marries Mr. Bounderby unwillingly, only to satisfy her father’s sense of what

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