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Hard Times

Hard Times


by Charles Dickens

Josiah Bounderby Timeline and Summary

  • Born into the loving family of the Peglers, who make sure he is educated, apprentice him at a young age, and generally take good care of him.
  • Rises in the business world to become a factory owner, and then a banker.
  • He hires Mrs. Sparsit to be his housekeeper.
  • He pays his mother to stay away and pretend she doesn't know him.
  • Meets and befriends Gradgrind; invents a fake story about a childhood spent in poverty, misery, and abandonment.
  • As the novel opens, Bounderby visits the Gradgrind school.
  • Bounderby and Gradgrind visit Sissy Jupe's father. When they learn that Sissy's father has abandoned her, Bounderby wants to kick her out of the school.
  • At Gradgrind's house, Bounderby kisses Louisa on the cheek.
  • Talking with Mrs. Sparsit about the Gradgrinds, Bounderby lets her figure out that he wants to marry Louisa when she grows up.
  • Bounderby cannot help Stephen get rid of his wife and sends him away angrily.
  • He proposes to and marries Louisa after she is of age; he hires Tom as a bank clerk.
  • A year after marriage, Bounderby meets Harthouse and invites him to be a guest at the house.
  • Bounderby summons Stephen and wants him to rat out the union organizers and the workers who are planning a strike. When Stephen refuses, Bounderby fires him.
  • After the bank is robbed, he launches an investigation and prematurely accuses Stephen and Mrs. Pegler.
  • He goes away on business, and is found in London by Mrs. Sparsit who tells him that Louisa is having an affair with Harthouse.
  • When he comes back to town, he realizes that Louisa just wants a break from the marriage.
  • Bounderby considers the marriage invalidated and starts living again as a single man.
  • Trying again to be useful, Mrs. Sparsit instead uncovers Bounderby's actual mother, Mrs. Pegler, who refutes his stories about his childhood.
  • He goes to see the dying Stephen along with Gradgrind, Louisa, and Tom.
  • Bounderby promotes Bitzer, then dies five years later of a fit in the middle of the street.