Hard Times: Book 1 Chapter 15 - Summary & Analysis

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Father and Daughter


      The next morning after breakfast Gradgrind starts talking with Louisa as he told her, and the matter was really very important. He tells her that Bounderby has proposed to marry her. Gradgrind wants to know Louisa’s response. Louisa’s manner of reacting to her father’s question makes it very clear that she does not love Bounderby and is most unwilling to marry him. But she does not reject the proposal and says that if his father and Bounderby want to do so she is ready to marry Bounderby Now Gradgrind, considering the feeling of Louisa asks her whether she has ever met any other proposal of marriage secretly Louisa replies: “Father; what other proposal can have been made to me? Whom have I seen? Where have I been? What are my heart experiences?” Mrs. Gradgrind becomes very happy and offers her best wishes to Louisa when Gradgrind informs her about the result of his conversation with Louisa. Gradgrind was telling about the proposed marriage of Louisa and Bounderby Sissy suddenly moves her head and looks at Louisa with pity sorrow wonder and doubt. Louisa feels the look of Sissy but does not raise her eyes at her. From this point onwards Louisa has maintained a distance between herself and Sissy and becomes proud and cold.

Critical Analysis

      Gradgrind’s character is further developed here. Once again he is regarded by Dickens as Louisa’s eminently practical father. It is quite amusing to know that he wants Louisa to think about Bounderby’s marriage proposal on the basis of “facts”. The great difference between their ages (Louisa and Bounderby) does not matter to him.

      The chapter is remarkable for its immense use of irony For instance, Louisa says to Bounderby: “You have dealt so wisely with my father, from cradle to this hour, that I never had a child’s belief or a child’s fear.” We feel sympathy for Louisa who has to marry a man whom she contempts.

      Mrs. Gradgrind’s reaction to Louisa’s decision on the marriage proposal is very comic. She says to Louisa; “I give you joy, my dear—and I believe you may now turn all your logical studies to good account.” More amusing is her tension of how to address Bounderby. Neither she can call him by name or only Josiah because it does not sound good. Mr. Gradgrind would not permit her to address her son-in-law as Joe and she can not call her son-in-law as ‘mister.’

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