© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
by Charles Dickens
Louisa Gradgrind Timeline and Summary
As a young girl, Louisa is drilled to have no imagination, to repress all her creativity, and to learn only facts. When Sleary's circus comes to town, she gets her brother to sneak off to peep at it. Later that day, Bounderby kisses her on the cheek and she rubs it raw afterwards. In a few years, convinced that she will be helping Tom, she marries Bounderby without love or any other positive emotions. Her decision to marry him breaks off her friendship with Sissy Jupe, who is the only one who can see the horror ahead. A year after her marriage, she meets James Harthouse, who is the first person aside from Tom to cause her to feel feelings. Louisa visits the house of Stephen Blackpool after meeting him at Bounderby's and sees for the first time that workers are human beings. Louisa realizes how much she hates her husband, and almost has an affair with Harthouse. Instead, at the last moment, she escapes to the house of her father, confronts him about how messed up she is, and faints. She decides to stay at her father's house for a while. When she does not immediately come home, Bounderby renounces their marriage. After Sissy takes care of her during her illness, Louisa again becomes close friends with her. Louisa comes to see Stephen die and realizes that her brother Tom is a thief. She sees Tom at Sleary's circus, where he is being hidden, and helps him escape abroad. She lives the rest of her life unmarried and childless, but she is close to Sissy's children. Finally, she receives a letter of regret and remorse from Tom, before he dies en route to seeing her again.