Josiah Bounderby falsely claims his success in life was a result of his hard work and never receiving help from anyone in Charles Dickens’ Hard Times. Claiming to be a self-made man grants Mr. Bounderby wide admiration in Coketown, with the exception of Tom and Louisa Gradgrind and Mrs. Sparsit, who perceive him to be an insolent person. Tom mirrors Mr. Bounderby’s selfish and hypocritical personality, but blames the old man for his rigid upbringing. Louisa cannot admire Mr. Bounderby while he shamelessly objectifies her when pursuing her romantically. At the same time, Mrs. Sparsit values Mr. Bounderby’s ability to help her preserve her social rank in Coketown rather than his achievements. These three characters see Mr. Bounderby though different points of view in comparison to the rest of Coketown, influenced by the the role he plays in their lives. Similar to Mr. Bounderby, Tom claims to be a self-made man. However, Tom deems him to be unsophisticated. Upon Tom and Mr. Bounderby’s first encounter with Mr. Harthouse, Mr. Bounderby aggrandizes the “exact depth of the gutter [he had] lifted himself out of, better [than] any man” (120). On the other hand, Tom first takes “an observation of his friend,” before relishing about his ability to manipulate his way to Mr. Bounderby’s side (127). The outlandish behavior Mr. Bounderby introduces himself has him appear idiotic in light of Tom’s calm and cautious approach. Tom’s careful estimation of Mr. Harthouse alludes to his character’s dark attributes that manifest from his hatred for Mr. Bounderby. Tom is deeply disturbed as a result of his upbringing, for that reason he cannot forgive Mr. Bounderby’s role in it. During a conversation with Louisa, Tom reveals his desire to “collect all the Facts... and all the Figures, and all the people who found them,” then “put a thousand barrels of gunpowder under them, and blow them all together” (23). The graphic fantasy Tom communicates to his sister describing the...
Cited: Dickens, Charles. Hard Times. New York: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.
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