Hard Times: Book 2 Chapter 9 - Summary & Analysis

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Hearing the Last of it


      Mrs. Sparsit is now living with Bounderby. Her behavior towards Bounderby is so humble that it makes Bounderby full of the feeling of importance and even makes him feel irritated for Louisa, who he thinks, does not care for his needs and moods. Consequently, there has created an unpleasant scene between them in front of Harthouse.

      A message of Mrs. Gradgrind’s illness reaches to Louisa, thus she travels to Coke town in order to see her mother who may be taking her last breath. She finds Sissy looking after her mother with extreme devotion. Louisa has remained cold towards Sissy. Mrs. Gradgrind is really dying. She says to Louisa that in spite of all his “ologies,” her father has forgotten something which she can not remember or define this time.

Critical Analysis

      The chapter shows two developments in the plot. One is quarrel between Louisa and Bounderby in front of Mrs. Sparsit and second is Mrs. Gradgrind dies after a long feebleness.

      There is abundant comedy in this chapter. First, Mrs. Sparsit’s Coriolanian eyebrows, her “classical eyes”, rigid nose is referred to, then it is told that she is “a most wonderful woman for prowling about the house”. She is quite a hypocrite to Bounderby also. For example, she kisses his hand, calls him her benefactor and expresses that she is very grateful to him for patronage, but while standing in front of his portrait and being all alone she shakes her fist and makes “contemptuous grimace” to it.

      Mrs. Gradgrind’s behavior and speeches produce lots of comedy At the moment of her death when Dickens is expected to move his reader to pity and deepest possible sympathy he comically tells us that Mrs. Bounderby on getting no appropriate name to address her son-in-law; starts calling him ‘J’. When Louisa asks her about the pain, she answers, “I think there is a pain somewhere in your room, but could not positively say that I have got it.”

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