Hard Times Novel Questions and Answers Marks 2
1. When was Hard Times published? Where?[Hard Times Novel]
Published in serial installments in Dickens’s magazine Household Words between April 1 and August 12, 1854.
2. ‘Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but facts. Facts alone are wanted in life.’ – What significance do these lines bring out?
Mr. Gradgrind opens Hard Times with this famous address to the class at his school. His words outline his philosophy of educating children: facts are more important than all else , as they are key to understanding the world and achieving success in it. This philosophy, rejected by Dickens, dismisses emotional understanding, analysis, and creative thinking, as it presents factual analysis as the answer to everything.
3. What is Mrs. Sparsit occupied in making for her employer?
Mrs. Sparsit is preparing Mr. Bounderby’s breakfast tea.
4. How much does Mr. Bounderby pay yearly for Mrs. Sparsit’s services?
Mr. Bounderby gives Mrs. Sparsit 100 pounds a year.
5.What are some examples of foreshadowing in this novel?
Stephen’s claim that factory Hands have only death to look forward to foreshadows his own death in the mine shaft . Bitzer’s run-in with Mr. Gradgrind at the circus at the beginning of the novel, when he has been taunting Sissy, foreshadows his run-in with Mr. Gradgrind at the circus at the end of the novel, when Tom is fleeing the country.
6.Where did the late Mr. Sparsit die, and of what?
Mr. Sparsit died from consuming too much brandy in Calais, France.
7. What has to happen before Tom Gradgrind can start to work for Bounderby?
Tom must finish up his education before coming to work for Bounderby.
8. Who speaks “with a kind of social widowhood” upon her?
Mrs. Sparsit is said to speak with an air of “social widowhood.”
9. What is the name of Sissy’s father’s dog?
10. Who is said to have a “moral infection of clap-trap in him”?
This phrase applies to Mr. Bounderby; Dickens is referring to the way strangers, ordinarily modest, take to boasting about him.
11. When does Mr. Gradgrind lower his voice?
Mr. Gradgrind lowers his voice when he talks to Louisa about her reading.
12. Which of Mrs. Sparsit’s facial features are most pronounced?
Mrs. Sparsit has a long “Coriolanian” (Roman) nose and “dense black eyebrows.”
13. What dichotomy does the novel highlight?
It highlights the difference between the rich and the poor, or factory owners and workers, who were forced to work long hours for low pay in dirty , loud and dangerous factories.
14. What does the novel denounce?
It denounces the gap between the rich and the poor.
15. Where and when is Hard Times set?
The middle of the 19th century, probably 1854, in a small town called Coketown. The town is a manufacturing town in southern England.
16. What is Dickens’s primary aim in this novel?
Dickens’s primary aim in this novel is to illustrate the dangers of allowing humans to become like machines, suggesting that without compassion and imagination, life would be unbearable.
17. What does it suggest?
It suggests that the materialism and narrow-mindedness of Utilitarianism were turning human beings into machines by avoiding the development of their emotions and imagination.
18. ‘He had not much hair. One might have fancied he had talked it off; and that what was left, all standing up in disorder, was blown about by his windy boastfulness.’ Bring out the significance.
The first description of Mr. Bounderby ends with details about his hair, meant to underscore Mr. Bounderby’s bluster and ego by connecting it comically to his baldness. The tone of this description, combined with the mocking of Mr. Bounderby’s physical appearance, also sets up Mr. Bounderby’s constant bragging as a point of humor, even as this attitude creates destruction for everyone around him.
19. Who are the “Hands” of Coketown?
The “Hands” refers to the great majority of Coketown’s population, those who work in its factories.
20. Only in his expression does Blackpool resemble what set of men?
Blackpool’s face looks intelligent, but he is not one of those workers who, “piecing together their broken intervals of leisure through many years, had mastered difficult sciences.”
21. What do travelers by express train say about the spectacle of Coketown’s factories at night?
The travelers say the factories look, lit up as they are at night, like “Fairy palaces.”
22. ‘I thought I couldn’t know whether it was a prosperous nation or not, unless I knew who had got the money, and whether any of it was mine. But that had nothing to do with it. It was not in the figures at all.’ – Bring out the significance.
In school Sissy Jupe is asked a question about National Prosperity. Her teacher gives her a number and asks her to determine, on the basis of this single fact, whether the nation is prosperous. Sissy later recounts her answer as an example of her hopelessness as a scholar, but her response is astute and taps into the human factor behind the actual numbers. The question and answer are particularly illustrative of the situation for Coketown’s workers. By the numbers England in the 19th century was a prosperous nation, but very few workers directly experienced its prosperity.
23. Who robs the bank?
24. ‘While it lasts, I would wish to do the little I can, and the little I am fit for. What does it matter!’ – Explain.
As Louisa Gradgrind contemplates Mr. Bounderby’s marriage proposal, hints of her emotional detachment and dissatisfaction with her life. She considers pessimistically how short her life will be and how few options are open to her. In talking about doing the little she can and is fit for, she alludes to her desire to help her brother. With no emotional ties to anyone else, she determines it does not matter if she marries Mr. Bounderby or, indeed, anyone else.
25. ‘Deed we are in a muddle sir. Look round town-so the numbers o’ people as has been broughten into bein heer, fur to weave, an piece out a livin’, aw the same one way, somehows, twixt their cradles and their graves. Look how we live, an where we live, an by what chances, an wi’ what sameness; and look how the mills is awlus a goin, and how they never works us no nigher to ony dis’ant object-ceptin awlus, Death.’ – Explain.
When Mr. Bounderby confronts Stephen Blackpool about the union forming in his factory, Stephen refuses to provide information, even though he has chosen not to join the union himself. His assessment of the situation as a “muddle,” an impossible sludge of circumstances and useless actions, reveals his belief a union would provide little real benefit for workers. Nor does he believe factory owners would improve the factory Hands lot in life. He has resigned himself to the fact that their only purpose is to work and do as they’re told until they die, with no hope of improvement or advancement.
26. What is the major conflict of the novel ‘Hard Times’?
When Louisa Gradgrind struggles to reconcile the fact-driven self-interest of her upbringing with the warmth of feeling that she witnesses both in Sissy Jupe and developing within herself. As this attitude changes, Louisa is caught between allegiance to her family and loveless marriage and her desire to transcend the emotional and personal detachment of her past.
27. ‘But there is something-not an Ology at all-that your father has missed, or forgotten, Louisa. I don’t know what it is. I have often sat with Sissy near me, and thought about it. I shall never get its name now. But your father may.’ – Explain.
Mrs. Gradgrind spends most of her life agreeing with her husband’s philosophy, even though she does not have a large store of facts herself. Only on her deathbed does she realize Mr. Gradgrind’s total focus on facts and reason is missing important elements. She says it is not an “Ology” or area of factual study at all, but she is unable to define the missing piece. She mentions thinking of this missing piece when Sissy is near, pointing to Sissy’s emotional balance. Mrs. Gradgrind picks up on this balance, but her years with Mr. Gradgrind’s facts have removed her ability to identify what it means.
28. What is Blitzer’s defining characteristic?
His pale skin.
29. ‘I do not know that I am sorry, I do not know that I am ashamed, I do not know that I am degraded in my own esteem. All that I know is, your philosophy and your teaching will not save me. Now, father, you have brought me to this. Save me by some other means!’ – Comment.
When Louisa finds herself tempted into an affair with James Harthouse, she flees to her father’s house. In a sense, her practicality probably saves her. She is unable to identify any true feelings for James Harthouse, just as she is unable to identify any feelings of shame for her relationship with him. From a practical standpoint, however, she must know an affair would ruin her standing in the society she inhabits and would thus damage her life irreparably. She also realizes she can no longer live happily being cut off from her emotions, so she demands her father help her by preventing her from pursuing whatever disruptive emotional desires she does have and allowing her to process less destructively.
30. In what tone is ‘Hard Times’ most frequently written?
The narrator’s tone varies drastically, but it is frequently ironic, mocking, and even satirical, especially when he describes Bounderby, Harthouse, and Mrs. Sparsit. When describing Stephen and Rachael, his tone is pathetic, evoking sympathy.
31. ‘Mr. Harthouse … the only reparation that remains with you, is to leave here immediately and finally. I am quite sure that you can mitigate in no other way the wrong and harm you have done. I am quite sure that it is the only compensation you have left in your power to make. I do not say that it is much or that it is enough; but it is something, and it is necessary.’ – Bring out the significance.
Sissy Jupe does not possess a large store of facts, but she does have wisdom about human nature and behavior. When Louisa comes home begging her family to prevent her from having an affair with James Harthouse, Sissy sees the most practical answer to the problem, not because she understands facts but because she understands the emotions driving the problem. She sees the seduction of Louisa is only a game to Harthouse. She knows if he remains in town, he might continue to tempt Louisa or Louisa might give in to temptation in her weakened state of mind. She knows he has already irreparably damaged Louisa’s marriage, but he has not ruined her reputation. Therefore, the only thing he can do now is leave. Sissy shows courage speaking so frankly to a man whose economic status far outranks her own, but she is firm and convincing in the simplicity of her assertions.
32. How does Bounderby decide he can get the most glory out of his employment of his housekeeper?
Mr. Bounderby comes to the conclusion that firing Mrs. Sparsit will give him the most
glory. to do as he begins to
33. ‘Often as I coom to myseln, and found it shinin on me down there in my trouble, I thowt it were the star as guided to Our Saviour’s home. I awmust think it must be the very star!’ – Comment.
Stephen Blackpool recounts his observations of the star over the coal pit where he is trapped for several days after falling in. Seeing the star gives him a sense of hope even as he knows he is likely to die. In Book 1 Chapter 5, the narrator mentions how few of the Hands attend the many churches in Coketown, but Stephen’s experience in the pit reveals they are not completely divorced from spiritual belief, and he takes comfort in the thought that he is seeing the star that might according to his beliefs guide him to a better life after he dies.
34. What is the size of Lady Scadgers’ establishment?
Lady Scadgers’ establishment is “a mere closet for one, a mere críb for two.”
35. Whose mother is Mrs. Pegler?
36. ‘People mutht be amuthed. They can’t be alwayth a learning, nor yet they can’t be alwayth a working, they an’t made for it. You mutht have uth, Thquire. Do the withe thing and the kind thing too, and make the betht of uth; not the wurtht.’ – Bring out the significance.
Mr. Sleary gets the last word in his final conversation with Mr. Gradgrind. He recognizes Mr. Gradgrind has dismissed the utility of the circus and other entertainment as frivolous and useless because they are not based in fact. When Mr. Sleary tells Mr. Gradgrind people must be amused, they must have an escape from work and study, Mr. Gradgrind’s own experiences with his children’s failures has made him now ready to hear and appreciate what Mr. Sleary has to say.
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