© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Hard Times

Hard Times


by Charles Dickens

Fire, Sparks, and Ashes

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Purely a Louisa thing here, since she's a big fan of sitting around staring at the fire and thinking about life. There are two strands to this image. One is for fires in the fireplace, which send up little burning ashes that extinguish and fall. The second is for the fires inside the factory chimneys, which lie dormant all day and then suddenly burst forth at night. It's not really clear what we're meant to take from these images. Is Louisa the ashes – her life's energy will be used when she is still very young, and she will spend the rest of her life as ashes, a waste product? Or is she the fiery chimney – seemingly very quiet, reserved, cool, and detached, but secretly waiting for the right moment to burst forth with all her passion aglow? Or is the idea to connect Louisa with a more mystical scene of a wise woman, oracle, or shaman, looking into the village fire before she speaks some kind of primal truth to whoever is nearby?

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...