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Hard Times

Hard Times


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.