By Norman Page (auth.)
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Additional info for Hard Times by Charles Dickens
His daughter Louisa arrives unexpectedly, tells him how unhappy she has been in her marriage, confesses to him that Harthouse has made a declaration of love to her, assures him that 'I have not disgraced you', and ends by falling unconscious at his feet. 28 Commentary Louisa's action in returning to her old home and telling her father the truth represents a 'reversal' of the action: the reader who has expected her to run away with Harthouse finds that - contrary to the assumptions of both Harthouse and Mrs Sparsit - she is not prepared to take soch an irrevocable step, but, for all her unhappiness and desperation, retains a sense of right behaviour.
37 This chapter, then, will be mainly concerned with the way in which Dickens expounds the 'educational' and 'industrial' themes of the novel, and the convictions he expresses. It will also deal, more briefly, with the minor theme of marriage and divorce which the novel touches on. 1 EDUCATION: THE HEAD AND THE HEART In the novels that preceded Hard Times, Dickens had often writtenusually critically and satirically -about schools and teachers: in Nicholas Nickleby (1839), for instance, he had attacked the boardingschools run for profit by incompetent and sometimes brutal masters; in Dombey and Son (1848), he had poked gentler fun at the arid pretensions of an 'academy' for middle-class boys, with its irrelevant curriculum based on the dead languages; in David Copperfield (1850) he had included an account of his hero's schooldays.
In one of the most important passages of the novel, he admits that there may after all be something in the belief that there is 'a wisdom of the Heart' as well as 'a wisdom of the Head'. Sissy offers her help and comfort to Louisa, who, after some resistance, abandons her attitude of coldness and pride and accepts Sissy's friendship. Commentary In this chapter Dickens begins to demonstrate the effects of the scene that has been related in 11,12. A fundamental change is beginning to 29 take place in Mr Gradgrind: hitherto scornful of 'the wisdom of the Heart', he now cannot ignore the damage that his doctrines have done to his beloved daughter's life and happiness.
Hard Times by Charles Dickens by Norman Page (auth.)