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Hard Times

Hard Times

by Charles Dickens

Thomas Gradgrind Timeline and Summary

  • Marries Mrs. Gradgrind because she "had no nonsense about her."
  • He has children whom he decides to educate with facts and whose imagination and emotional development he hopes to repress and replace with logic.
  • Founds a school to teach with this same philosophy.
  • After Sleary's circus comes to town, Gradgrind catches his daughter Louisa and son Tom sneaking a peek at the circus.
  • At the same time, he discovers that one of his school's students, Sissy Jupe, is the daughter of a circus clown, who has abandoned her.
  • Gradgrind offers Sissy a place in his house as a sort of companion servant and a place at the school.
  • A few years later, noticing that Louisa has grown up, he advises her to accept Bounderby's marriage proposal.
  • A year after the wedding, Gradgrind has become a Member of Parliament.
  • He meets James Harthouse, an aspiring politician.
  • Gradgrind introduces Harthouse to Bounderby and Louisa.
  • His wife dies, and he buries her without much feeling.
  • One night while he is working, his daughter Louisa comes in half-crazy, confronts him about the awful way he raised her, tells him about her near-affair, and then collapses.
  • He offers her his house as a place to stay apart from Bounderby. The arrangement becomes permanent when Bounderby rejects the marriage.
  • After Stephen is found inside the hole, Gradgrind realizes that Tom is a thief, and that his own life and philosophy are failures.
  • Gradgrind goes to Sleary's circus to help Tom escape overseas, and there he is shocked to find that his model student Bitzer is now completely selfish and cold.
  • Gradgrind reforms his ideas, and lives to old age.

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