è un celebre romanzo di Charles Dickens pubblicato nel 1854. La vicenda è ambientata nella città di Coketown (letteralmente "Città del carbone"), un'immaginaria città industriale. Il romanzo è una critica forte che Dickens fa alla società industriale del tempo. I personaggi di Tempi Difficili
incarnano pienamente diversi aspetti, per lo più negativi, di quella mentalità. Per aiutarvi nello studio di questo romanzo dalla trama intricata, noi di ScuolaZoo abbiamo preparato per voi il riassunto svolto in inglese del romanzo e l'analisi dei personaggi principali.
Qui trovate il riassunto di Tempi difficili
Hard Times, riassunto in inglese libro primo: la semina
The story is set in a fictitious city named Coketown which is modelled on the industrial town of Preston in the north of England. In this novel, the author tells the story of Thomas Gradgrind, a wealthy, retired merchant who devotes his life to the philosophy of rationalism, facts and self-interest. Gradgrind has two children, Louisa and Tom, and he raises them according to his values, denying them to engage in fanciful or imaginative pursuits. On the basis of his philosophy, he opens a school in Coketown. The novels opens when Mr Gradgrind is interrogating one of his pupils, Sissy Jupe, whose father is a performer in a circus. She is kindly and imaginative. One day, after school, Gradgrind sees the two oldest children of him spying inside the circus together with other pals. Angry, he drags them away. Gradgrind and his friend Josiah Bounderby, a manufacturer, want to speak with Sissy’s father because Gradgrind decides to dismiss Sissy from the school as he considers her a bad influence on his children. But at the circus they discover he has abandoned her daughter, in hope that she will lead a better life without him. Gradgrind gives Sissy a choice: to return to the circus and forfeit her education, or to continue her education and work for Mrs Gradgrind, never returning to the circus. Sissy accepts the latter. Meanwhile, Louisa and Tom express their discontent and dissatisfaction towards their education. In the tenth chapter of Hard Times, Dickens opens a digression about the mill workers in the factories, known as “hands”. In particular, he focuses on Stephen Blackpool's story. He is married with an alcoholic who has returned home after escaping. The next day, Stephan sees Bounderby in order to ask him a piece of advice: he wants to end his miserable marriage and to be free to get married with Rachel who is also a worker. At this point, the novel Hard Times
returns to the story of Gradgrind who asks Louisa to marry Bounderby. The man does not understand that Louisa is living in a state of apathy and alienation; he wants his daughter Louisa to marry Bounderby and she apathetically accepts.
Hard Times, riassunto in inglese libro secondo: la mietitura
The events narrated in the second part of Hard Times
take place two years after the marriage between Bounderby and Louisa. A new character, James Harthouse, sends to Bounderby a letter written by Tom Gradgrind, who is now a MP. Bounderby invites James for dinner, but the man seems more focused on the melancholy Louisa. Tom also arrives at his brother-in-law's house and sympathizes with Harthouse, but he does not return the positive judgment. Meanwhile, during an assembly at Bounderby’s factory, Stephen Blackpool is against the Union’s plans and, four days later, he is fired. Louisa offers him some money, he accepts with the promise to return it to her. Two days later, a bank is robbed and the main suspect is Stephen Blackpool. After the robbery, Ms Sparsit is a guest in Bounderby’s house and here she notices that Harthouse and Louisa are very close. The second book of Hard Times
closes with Louisa who visits his father and tells him she is depressed and that she had an unhappy childhood. After pronouncing these words, Louisa faints.
Hard Times, riassunto in inglese libro terzo: il raccolto
Bounderby goes to Gradgrind’s house to speak to his wife and Mr Gradgrind tries to explain to him that she refused Harthouse. Despite this, Bounderby gives his wife an ultimatum: if she doesn’t come back home within noon the next day, he will end their marriage. The story between the two ends and James Harthouse leaves Coketown.
continues with Sparsit that brings home Mrs Pegler, saying to Bounderby that she could be Stephen and Rachel’s accessory in the robbery. However, she tells she is Bounderby’s mother. Stephen Blackpool, who left Coketown to look for a new job, fells down into a well. Sissy and Rachel find him. Before dying, Stephen asks Gradgrind to believe in his innocence and tells the man that Louisa and Tom might be the responsible for the robbery. Tom confesses and he wants to flee to America. Bitzer, however, wants to denounce him in order to have the reward offered by Bounderby. Mr Sleary, Sissy’s father, who came back to town, solves the situation: he helps Tom to escape. At the end of the novel, Bounderby suddenly dies after loses his fortune; Tom dies after writing his final letter to Louisa, while she gets old alone. Gradgrind, instead, abandons his philosophy. Only Sissy has an happy ending: she gets married and has got children, living a happy life.
Hard Times, analisi dei personaggi
- Mr. Gradgrind: Thomas Gradgrind is the intellectual founder of the Gradgrind educational system and he is also a member of Parliament. Mr. Gradgrind espouses a philosophy of rationalism, self-interest, and cold, hard fact. His name is now used generically to refer to someone who is hard and only concerned with cold facts and numbers. He is an intense follower of Utilitarian ideas. He soon sees the error of these beliefs however, when his children's lives fall into disarray.
- Cecelia Jupe: Cecilia is the daughter of a clown in Sleary’s circus. Sissy is taken in by Gradgrind when her father disappears. Sissy has her own set of values and beliefs which make her seem unintelligent in the Gradgrind household. Sissy serves as a foil, or contrast, to Louisa: while Sissy is imaginative and compassionate, Louisa is rational and, for the most part, unfeeling. Sissy embodies the Victorian femininity that counterbalances mechanization and industry.
- Stephen Blackpool: he is a worker at one of Bounderby's mills. Stephen loves Rachael but is unable to marry her because he is already married with a drunken wife who no longer lives with him but who appears from time to time. A man of great honesty, compassion, and integrity, Stephen maintains his moral ideals even when he is shunned by his fellow workers and fired by Bounderby.
- Josiah Bounderby: Gradgrind’s friend and later Louisa’s husband with whom he has no children. He has risen to a position of power and wealth from humble origins. Bounderby is callous, self-centred and ultimately revealed to be a liar and fraud.
- Louisa (Loo) Gradgrind, later Louisa Bounderby: she is the eldest child of the Gradgrind family. Louisa feels disconnected from her emotions and alienated from other people. When she grows older, her father arranges her marriage to Mr. Bounderby. After her unhappy marriage, she is tempted to adultery by James Harthouse, but resists him and returns to her father. She reproaches her father for his dry and fact-based approach to the world and convinces him of the error of his ways.
(Credits foto: Wikipedia - Feltrinelli)