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Hard Times Essay

Hard Times Essay

This essay examines the question, “What is Mrs. Sparsit’s role in the novel ‘Hard Times’ by Charles Dickens?” The essay begins by introducing the character, Mr. Bounderby’s housekeeper. It goes on by relating her ethics and her motivations throughout the novel. The essay then continues, and discusses her actions and the effects of the character’s behavior on other characters such as Louisa and Mr. Bounderby. I analyzed Mrs. Sparsit's relationship with Louisa as a way to show her character. The next part of the essay deals specifically with the author’s purpose and what he was trying to communicate through this specific character.

By the end of the essay, the conclusion is reached that the character Mrs. Sparsit functions as a comic character, useful for lightening the mood.


Throughout writing this essay, I learned that people in this age did not think of marriage as a work of love but as a business. Mrs. Sparsit does not love Mr. Bounderby yet she wishes to marry him for his money and rank.


This essay will explore different aspects of Mrs. Sparsit and her characterization in the novel ‘Hard Times’. Mrs. Sparsit is quite an important character in the novel. She is a blue blood, elderly woman and a reputable widow who has fallen on tough times and needs to work for Bounderby. She is Mr. Josiah Bounderby’s housekeeper. She goes to inhabit the bank apartments when Bounderby weds Louisa. Her characterizing attributes are her narrow-mindedness, her deceptive nature and the way she controls people to get what she needs. Obviously her superseding desire is to pulverize Bounderby's marriage to Louisa so she can wed him herself.

There is consistent reference is made to Mrs. Sparsit’s background, particularly by Bounderby. It could be said, she goes about as the inverse to Bounderby, having begun off with a high social position and afterward sunk down into destitution, while Bounderby (probably) has made the same voyage yet the other way. Considering these attributes, it is clear then that "Sparsit" shows and focuses towards the sort of niggardly nature that epitomizes Mrs. Sparsit - niggardly in both her character and with her accounts. Her great qualities are "sparse" and her exercises and properties demonstrate that her character itself is exceptionally restricted to her own particular self-serving interests.


She spends her days pouring tea and doing other housekeeping jobs and duties for him in light of a yearly stipend. Mrs Sparsit is one of the characters utilized as a part of the novel for comic purposes. Dickens picks her to have exceptionally particularly traditional facial features, for instance her "Coriolanian style of nose" and “Roman” features, which he rehashes a few times all through the novel to set up her as menacing, and additionally a comic character. All through the novel Dickens analyzes Mrs Sparsit to different whimsical pictures to highlight her comic qualities and for unexpected purposes to parody the Utilitarian theory. Dickens nearly proposes that she is a witch who could be "suspected of dropping over the banisters or sliding down them", as she sneaks about Bounderby's home quickly. Saving with words, she is truly a "sitter," first in Bounderby's home and later in his bank. She loans her respectability and society to his rough, uneducated environment. She seems to accept Mr. Bounderby’s theory of life. She despises him, and spits on his photo when he is not there. All through the novel, Mrs. Sparsit plots and plans for her own benefit. Her part in the first book is one of standing by and observing; in the second book, she proceeds with this part and uses Bitzer, who is hopeful to join the middle class, to bring revenge upon Bounderby; in the last book, she serves as a source and is compensated by losing her position with Bounderby and by being constrained to live with a detested relative, Lady Scadgers.


One thing that is clear in the novel is Mrs. Sparsit's disapproval to Mr. Bounderby and Louisa’s marriage. She pities Mr. Bounderby and repeatedly says that she wishes he was as cheerful as he used to be. She expresses the fact that she thinks that marrying Louisa was a mistake especially because she doesn’t play backgammon with him or make him his favorite drink,  a glass of warm sherry with lemon-peel and nutmeg, like Mrs. Sparsit does. This is the main time in the novel that Bounderby feels warm feeling towards anybody, yet he can't characterize whether it is towards Mrs. Sparsit or Louisa. He ponders, be that as it may, what this inclination may be. It is clear that Mr. and Mrs. Bounderby are not happy in their marriage from this quote, “But from this day, the Sparsit action upon Mr Bounderby threw Louisa and James Harthouse more together, and strengthened the dangerous alienation from her husband and confidence against him with another, into which she had fallen by degrees so fine that she could not retrace them if she tried.”


It is true that Mrs. Sparsit has a certain familiarity and history that Louisa does not have with him. She has noticed the reality that they don't share the same room, and she fancies that their marriage will end in a debacle. She raised in her psyche a relentless Staircase, with a dim pit of disgrace at the base; and down those stairs, from every day and hour to hour, she saw Louisa coming. Envious by the fact that she was being driven out by Louisa, she watches with happiness as the wrong kinship amongst Louisa and James Harthouse advances. Mrs. Sparsit is not depicted in the novel as a supporter of the philosophy of fact and Dickens hints here that Mrs. Sparsit has a great deal of extravagant and creative ability, yet this extravagant and creative energy have the outcome that Bounderby chooses to release her from his administration on account of her obstruction in his private life.


She knows all of his habits and preferences which causes a problem in Mr. Bounderby and Louisa’s marital relationship. Mrs. Sparsit’s main goal is to wed Bounderby and turn into a spouse. Bounderby, then again, has his eyes set on the boasting privileges of having Mrs. Sparsit as his employee. He is very proud of her reputation, since his notoriety increments through the talk that a mean-conceived yet now an affluent man houses such a VIP. Generally as he makes up his own experience, he develops hers by and by, telling everybody that she originates from the noblest of the aristocracy. After Bounderby weds Louisa, Mrs. Sparsit makes it her central goal to undermine and destroy the marriage and to get Louisa in the demonstration of infidelity.


Dicken’s exaggerates Mrs. Sparsit’s character by making her seem very irritating. Due to the fact that she is jealous of Louisa after her marriage, she searches for any chance to disparage Louisa and constantly spies on her. For example, she calls Mrs. Bounderby, Miss Gradgrind which is quite disrespectful as she is not a child anymore but Mr. Bounderby’s wife. She is reducing her to the status of a stranger. There is satire in the way that Mrs Sparsit calls Bounderby a "noodle". It accentuates the compassion she has for him. She plays the part of a humble lady for instance by kissing Bounderby's hand and calling him her "benefactor" however, this is a technique used by Dickens to misrepresent her character and make her seem all the more disturbing.


Mrs Sparsit's preoccupation with Louisa on the "brink of the abyss" achieves new statures in "Lower and Lower" as she tries to play investigator in the Harthouse-Louisa riddle. This part is exceptionally funny and sensational. Again her parody element is strengthened when she acknowledges Mr Bounderby's welcome to his home with, "your will is to me a law", and expressing her compassion for him and encouraging him to "be buoyant". Dickens depicts her as "pouncing", "darting" and "diving" while pursuing Louisa and he captures the reader in Mrs Sparsit's opinions of desperation as she asks herself,  "Where will she wait for him?" "Where will they go together?"  Her quick moves, intermittent upheavals and last breakdown, "burst into tears of bitterness", could be portrayed as exaggerated, however I think it is essential, for Dickens to impersonate and ridicule the lady who was "well born" and who is presently circling in the rain acting like a "Robinson Crusoe". It enhances how far she has tumbled down the class structure and permits Dickens to show how he believes that putting such significance on individuals with well-off backgrounds is unwise.


In the end, her plan backfires as she gains Mr. Bounderby's endless hostility when she unintentionally uncovers Mr. Bounderby's mom to be alive, well, and a decent mother and that he had not, along these lines, developed himself from destitution. Throughout the novel, we can completely expect that Mrs. Sparsit will proceed with her meddling nature, and the topic of observation recommends that pretty much as Mr. Gradgrind was a flawed educator, haughty people like Mrs. Sparsit will undoubtedly fall flat in their endeavors to be God-like judges. Truth be told, the peak of Mrs. Sparsit's rise and fall came because of her own actions. The utilization of "refuge" is a mocking play on words, alluding to Bounderby's rapid release of Mrs. Sparsit by coach. When her snooping in the long run makes a more noteworthy humiliation for Mr. Bounderby, he will be considerably harsher in his offering of "refuge." In the meantime, Mrs. Sparsit is one of the more comic characters, helpful for lightening the mood once in awhile in this depressing novel. I believe that the scene of Mrs. Sparsit pulling Mrs. Pegler along is intended to be super humorous. It is likewise important to acknowledge Mrs. Sparsit's hypocrisy, she parallels Stephen Blackpool as the spouse of an alcoholic (her husband passed on of liquor addiction in France). From this analysis, we can conclude that the character Mrs. Sparsit functions as a comic character, useful for lightening the mood.


Works Cited List


"Harry French's Twenty Plates for Dickens's "Hard Times for These Times " in the British Household Edition (1870s)." N.p., n.d. Web. 2 May 2016. <http://www.victorianweb.org/art/illustration/french/pva202.html>.


Chesterton, G. K. "Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens, by G. K. Chesterton." : Chapter16. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2016. <https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/chesterton/gk/appreciations-and-criticisms-of-the-works-of-charles-dickens/chapter16.html>.


Allen, Walter. "Introduction." Hard Times: An. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2016. <https://web.archive.org/web/20041105064003/http://home.vicnet.net.au:80/~hartwell/hardtime/introd.htm>.

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