Hard Times: Book 2 Chapter 10 - Summary & Analysis

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Mrs. Sparsit’s Staircase


      Mrs. Sparsit continues to stay for so many weeks at Bounderby’s residence though she has to stay there only for few days to recover her normal self. When she leaves Bounderby’s house, he decides that she should come to his house on every weekend. During the period of her stay at Bounderby’s house, she had attentively taken care of his needs. All the time she was expressing her sympathy for Bounderby when she found him in front of her but showed her fist to his portrait in privacy and called him as “noodle” in resentful manner.

      Mrs. Sparsit has been observing keenly the growing intimacy between Louisa and Harthouse. After her close examination of their relationship, she has reached the conclusion that soon it will develop into a love affair. In her imagination, Mrs. Sparsit has built up a grand staircase with a dark pit of destruction and shame at the bottom. She sees Louisa descending towards pit day by day and hour by hour. She has no doubt that Louisa will soon become the mistress of Harthouse and thus she will disgrace herself and Bounderby. But Mrs. Sparsit feels no sympathy for Bounderby and considers it justified for Bounderby because he has married Louisa.

      Harthouse and Louisa have become so close that often they sit together and talk to each other in low voice. Once Mrs. Sparsit has seen them talking in whispers and Harthouse’s face about to touch Louisa’s hair. In fact, both were talking about the robbery that had taken place at Bounderby’s bank. Louisa is seeking Harthouse’s opinion and was unable to think that the robber is her brother. Harthouse says that all the evidences show that Stephen is guilty. Thereafter Louisa and Harthouse walk away and Louisa is leaning upon Harthouse’s arms. Mrs. Sparsit fancies that Louisa is descending very fast on the staircase but she does not want to stop Louisa from being degraded, instead, she is eager to see the end and ultimate fall.

Critical Analysis

      From this chapter, it is very clear that Mrs. Sparsit’s role is of a villain. She is not only hypocrite but wishes something ill for Bounderby. She is very much sure that very soon Harthouse will succeed is his plan of seducing Louisa but she does nothing to warn Bounderby She is waiting “as for the ripeness and fullness of the harvest of her hopes.” The staircase, built by Mrs. Sparsit in imagination, is comically presented by the novelist.

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