Hard Times: Book 1 Chapter 14 - Summary & Analysis

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Summary

      With the passing of time, Louisa and Thomas become young. Gradgrind is not happy with Sissy because her progress at school is not satisfactory. He feels that Sissy should not go to school. Sissy accepts her demerits and expresses her sorrow on making her patron disappointed. But Sissy proves useful in the family; Mr. Gradgrind has never shown his contempt for Sissy though he has formed a very poor opinion about her “calculating” ability.

      Gradgrind becomes the Member of Parliament for Coketown and his ambition is thus fulfilled.

      One evening Gradgrind says to Louisa that he has to talk something important to her and the next day after having breakfast he would do that. The same evening Thomas comes to meet Louisa. He is working in Bounderby’s bank and does not stay at ‘Stone Lodge’. He says to Louisa that something marvelous is about to happen, something “uncommonly jolly.” He further says that he has come to give her hints for what is going to take place though he knows that she has guessed that.

Critical Analysis

      Sissy and Louisa’s characters are more illuminated in this chapter. Sissy is unable to be well versed in figures and arithmetic. Sissy says, “Perhaps I tried to learn much, and if I had asked to be allowed to try a little less, I might have.’’ Here, even Gradgrind is compelled to acknowledge human merits of Sissy. He says, “I do not complain of you. You are an affectionate, earnest, good young woman.” Sissy shows her gratitude to him and acknowledges his kindness “to a poor forlorn girl who had no claim upon you”. In this chapter, Tom makes it clear that he is thinking of taking advantage through Bounderby who is going to marry Louisa.

      Louisa grows very quiet and reserved. When Gradgrind asks her if she is happy and cheerful, she replies, “I am as cheerful, father, as I usually am, or usually have been.”

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