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by Charles Dickens
Stephen Blackpool Timeline and Summary
As a young man, courts and marries the unnamed woman who becomes Mrs. Blackpool. Soon, he begins working as a "Hand" in Bounderby's mill factory in Coketown. After his wife becomes an alcoholic, Stephen goes to Bounderby to ask for help with his alcoholic wife without much luck. Meanwhile, he falls in love with his wife's childhood friend Rachael, and she with him. Stephen begins to pay his wife to stay away from him and his house. At the start of the novel, Stephen comes home after a walk with Rachael to discover his wife passed out there. Stephen comes back to Bounderby to ask whether the law can help him end his marriage, but does not learn anything new. He comes home and finds Rachael taking care of his wife. That night, his wife almost drinks poison. Stephen seems willing to let her, but Rachael intervenes. A year later, Stephen is ostracized by his fellow workers for refusing to join the union. When he refuses to report on the unionization to Bounderby, he is fired. After a visit from Louisa (who offers traveling money) and Tom (who asks him to hang around the bank at night), Stephen does the bank thing and then leaves town to find work. He receives a letter from Rachael asking him to come back and clear his name from accusations of being the bank robber. Leaving right away, he walks across the countryside and falls into Old Hell Shaft, a huge hole. A week later, Sissy and Rachael find him. After he is lifted out, he gives a poignant speech and dies.