Hard Times: Book 2 Chapter 8 - Summary & Analysis

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      Now Harthouse is in the state of establishing close relationship with Louisa and can talk with her something confidential, keeping Mr. Bounderby out of any such conversation. Louisa does not know where this relation would lead her. Harthouse himself has no clear design regarding Louisa. Both are drifting towards something unpredictable. Harthouse has still strong belief that “what will be, will be”.

      Next day when Harthouse is returning from some public engagement, he suddenly meets Bounderby who informs him in shocked manner that his bank is robbed. Although only hundred and fifty pounds are stolen yet he fails to reconcile himself that robbery has taken place in his bank. Harthouse asks if someone is suspected for this misdeed. Bounderby replies Stephen Blackpool has been seen loitering about the bank building for two or three days in the evening, he had also met an old woman who is suspected to be his partner. Louisa, now recalls that when she went to visit Stephen’s house, she had noticed a woman in his room who was trying to remain unnoticed.

      Mrs. Sparsit is frightful because of robbery and Bounderby decided that she should stay for few days at his house unless she recovers from the shock.

      In the night Louisa feels restless. The suspicion that Tom might have committed the robbery is haunting her mind. Now she waits for Tom to return to her home. In the past midnight, Tom comes home. Louisa, stealthily goes into his room and asks if he has anything secret to tell her. Tom gets surprised over this question. Louisa asks this question for three or four time and gives him assurance that her affection for him would remain the same even if he reveals something unpleasant. But Tom says he has nothing to tell her. When she leaves, Tom bursts into tears repenting over what he has done.

Critical Analysis

      In this chapter one of the very important events takes place. It gives shock to Bounderby’s vanity because his bank is robbed. The style of Bounderby informing Harthouse about the bank robbery is as some national disaster has taken place. This event has given another opportunity to Bounderby to express his resentment against the “hands”. He feels almost sure that Stephen is a guilty.

      Louisa does not suspect Stephen in spite of her husband’s account of robbery pointing to Stephen. Though the presence of an old woman in Stephen’s room is recalled by Louisa yet for Stephen she has no doubt. Now she starts thinking about Tom. She does her best to draw a conclusion from Tom but he does not admit his role in the robbery. Tom’s bursting into tears after Louisa’s leaving the room makes it clear that he has committed the robbery.

      In spite of all the maliciousness in Mrs. Sparsit, she is here treated comically. The manner in which she tells about Bitzer’s snaring; the aristocratic links; and the manner through which she tries to make Bounderby cheerful, her frequent references to Louisa as Mrs. Gradgrind are all very comic.

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