Mrs. Pegler: Character Analysis in Hard Times

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A Mysterious Woman

      Stephen meets an old lady when he comes out of Bounderb’s house after discussing his troubles regarding his married life, her name is Mrs. Pegler. She is “tall and shapely though withered by time.” Stephen finds her “cleanly and plainly dressed.” She seems to have been there after a long journey from some where in the countryside because there are marks of filth upon her shoes. She says to Stephen that she has been waiting for her in the street to have a glimpse of the owner of the house from which he just come out. But she fails to have a look of the owner of the house. She feels satisfaction on seeing Stephen because he (Stephen) has seen the person for whom she has covered a long distance. She comes to know that Stephen has worked in that factory of the owner of the house for so many years. She lifts Stephen’s hand to her lips and kisses it. Here, all these activities seem a mystery and we do not understand why this old lady has such adorable attitude for Bounderby.

Keen to Conceal Herself from Bounderby

      Again we meet this old lady when she is very anxious to catch a glimpse of Mrs. Bounderby Louisa. This time also she happens to meet Stephen and again can not catch the glimpse of the person she was keen to see. She feels quite happy to know from Stephen that Mrs. Bounderby is a beautiful young lady with dark eyes. This time Stephen says the old woman to come to his lodging. She goes with him and he offers to her some refreshments. But as she hears that Mr. Bounderby is coming to visit Stephen’s house, she feels very nervous and tries to hide herself but as it is made clear to her that not Bounderby but his wife is coming, she feels little relaxed. Even then she requests Stephen to allow her to remain in the corner unnoticed. The mystery deepens more, because still the identity of this woman is not revealed to us.

Suspected to assist in Bank Robbery

      When Stephen falls under the suspicion of committing robbery at the bank, it is presumed that the old woman who had been observed in his company wandering near the building of the bank must have been a partner of Stephen. Mrs. Sparsit whole heartedly gets involved in trying to trace this old woman and one day finds her in the country abode. She forcibly drags her to Coketown in order to present her before Bounderby as an accomplice in this crime of committing robbery.

The Mother of Bounderby

      Now mystery is going to be discovered. Her name is Mrs. Pegler and she is Bounderby’s mother.

      This revealation greatly surprises us and gives a severe shock to us, specially when she exposes that she had brought up her son Josiah Bounderby with utmost affection and love of a mother. Till now, Bounderby was used to boast that he had been abandoned by his mother in his very infancy and that he is left in the irresponsible, hands of his drunkard grand mother. This whole story which Bounderby had been giving to various persons appears too false. Mrs. Pegler was fully devoted to her son as being his mother. But Bounderby after being prosperous, pensioned her off on thirty pounds a year under the condition that she will never come to see him and never discuss or tell anybody that she is his mother. When Mrs. Sparsit forcibly presents her in front of Bounderby, she asks for apology for coming in front of her.

      She explains that she does not come on her own but had been forcefully dragged by his housekeeper.

A Miserable Figure

      When we come to know the identity of Mrs. Pegler and her relation with Bounderby, we feel deep sympathy for her and she becomes a pitiable figure in the story. She is used as an instrument to expose the true character of Bounderby who is divorced of any affection for his mother. Here we regard Bounderby as a complete contemptible fellow.

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