Hard Times

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James Harthouse Character Analysis

A young, wealthy London gentleman, Mr. Harthouse is as bored and as pleasing as most men of his class tend to be, and he bends all his powers of pleasing and persuasion in trying to seduce. Louisa, when he sees what a fascinating, repressed, beautiful woman she is. His plans are thwarted when Louisa goes to her father's house instead of rendezvousing with him to elope, and Sissy, in her calm and pure way, confronts him the next day and succeeds in making him leave Coketown forever.

James Harthouse Quotes in Hard Times

The Hard Times quotes below are all either spoken by James Harthouse or refer to James Harthouse. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Hard Times published in 2001.
Book 2, Chapter 3 Quotes

‘Oh,' returned Tom, with contemptuous patronage, ‘she's a regular girl. A girl can get on anywhere. She has settled down to the life, and she don't mind. It does just as well as another. Besides, though Loo is a girl, she's not a common sort of girl. She can shut herself up within herself, and think — as I have often known her sit and watch the fire — for an hour at a stretch.'

Related Characters: Thomas Gradgrind, Jr. (Tom) (speaker), Louisa Gradgrind, James Harthouse
Page Number: 101
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Tom has a drink with Jem Harthouse. Tom, intoxicated, opens up to Jem about his sister, Louisa. In the course of the conversation, he reveals that Louisa has only married Bounderby as a favor to him--she actually despises Bounderby. Tom seems utterly indifferent to Louisa's feelings; he's more concerned about his own success as an employee of the factory. Furthermore, he reveals his own sexist and dehumanizing beliefs here--because Louisa is a woman, he presumes, she can "get on anywhere." Her marital happiness is of no consequence to Tom.

The passage also reinforces a key fact about Louisa--in spite of her education at the hands of Gradgrind, and in spite of her sad, lonely life, she still has a spark left. Tom points out, for not the first time in the novel, that Louisa has a curious affinity with fire--perhaps symbolizing her imagination and adventurousness, which have been tragically suppressed by her marriage.

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Book 2, Chapter 7 Quotes

‘Your brother. My young friend Tom — '

Her colour brightened, and she turned to him with a look of interest. ‘I never in my life,' he thought, ‘saw anything so remarkable and so captivating as the lighting of those features!'

Related Characters: James Harthouse (speaker), Louisa Gradgrind, Thomas Gradgrind, Jr. (Tom)
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Harthouse begins his seduction of Louisa. Harthouse pretends to run into Louisa by accident; then he proceeds to flatter her excessively. Because Louisa has never been treated with anything but callous efficiency, she's immediately interested in Harthouse; he represents an alternative to her usual way of life.

The passage also suggests that what really interests Louisa about Harthouse isn't exactly his flattery--rather, it's his association with Tom, Louisa's beloved brother. Louisa shows affection for Tom long after the point when it's obvious that Tom doesn't really love her. She has nobody else to love, and so she pours all of her emotion and affection into her lazy, undeserving brother. Harthouse realizes this, and so emphasizes his relationship to Tom in order to endear himself to Louisa.

Book 2, Chapter 9 Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Louisa Gradgrind, Josiah Bounderby, Mrs. Sparsit, James Harthouse
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, a comical, tertiary character becomes villainous and critical to the plot of the novel. Mrs. Sparsit is jealous of the relationship between Louisa and Mr. Bounderby, and she resents the fact that she was kicked out of the house as soon as Bounderby married Louisa. To retaliate, Mrs. Sparsit tries to draw Louisa and Bounderby apart--thus, she tries to flatter Mr. Bounderby excessively, making him more conscious of Louisa's coldness. By the same token, Sparsit's flattery draws Louisa closer to James Harthouse.

The passage shows Mrs. Sparsit engaging in manipulation that's pretty obvious, at least from our perspective. Perhaps it's because Louisa is so unfamiliar with emotional matters that she can't see through what Mrs. Sparsit is trying to do, and thus falls for James.

Book 2, Chapter 12 Quotes

‘This night, my husband being away, he has been with me, declaring himself my lover. This minute he expects me, for I could release myself of his presence by no other means. 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!'

Related Characters: Louisa Gradgrind (speaker), Thomas Gradgrind, Louisa Gradgrind, James Harthouse
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we learn the truth: after Mrs. Sparsit loses sight of Louisa, she doesn't go to meet with Harthouse in Coketown--instead, she goes to visit her father. Louisa pours out her heart to her father, accusing him of raising her to be emotionally clueless, so that she was naturally victim to smooth flatterers like James Harthouse. She demands that her father help her out of her current emotional problem--a problem for which facts and figures are absolutely beside the point.

In many ways, the entire novel has been building up to this scene. We've seen ample evidence of the limitations of Gradgrind's methods of education, but it's not until now that Louisa has shown real anger with her father for stunting her emotional development. Louisa, we always knew, still had some "fire" in her--here, she finally lets the fire out.

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James Harthouse Character Timeline in Hard Times

The timeline below shows where the character James Harthouse appears in Hard Times. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 2, Chapter 2
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
The young gentleman is none other than Mr. James Harthouse, usually called Jem, a young man who is affluent and bored out of his mind... (full context)
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Jem Harthouse finally snaps out of his boredom when he meets handsome, proud, cold Louisa. He senses... (full context)
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
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...rewarded when Tom comes home, and Louisa's impassive face breaks into a warm, beautiful smile. Harthouse inwardly takes note of this; apparently Tom is the only one she loves. Tom, for... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 3
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After dinner, Jem Harthouse takes Tom back to his hotel, and handing him a drink and a cigar, converses... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 5
Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
Stephen joins Mr. Bounderby, Louisa, Tom, and Mr. Harthouse in the Bounderbys' drawing room. Bounderby demands that Stephen reveal details of the newly formed... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 7
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
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Mr. Harthouse gets along well with Bounderby and the other "Hard Fact" fellows with his easy flattery,... (full context)
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Later, Harthouse meets Tom, and genially tells him that he ought to be more grateful to his... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 8
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Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
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The narrator reveals Mr. Harthouse's inner thoughts about this step in his relationship with Louisa; he isn't deliberately planning a... (full context)
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Riding home after a day of work, Harthouse encounters an upset Bounderby, who reveals that the Bank has been robbed! Only 150 pounds... (full context)
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...of "Mrs. Bounderby". That night, while Mrs. Sparsit comforts Bounderby at home, Louisa and Mr. Harthouse go for a walk outside. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 9
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...to further this sense of alienation between Mr. Bounderby and Louisa, while Louisa and Mr. Harthouse silently draw closer together in their contempt of Bounderby. Mrs. Sparsit's flattery of Mr. Bounderby... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 10
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
...contempt to his portrait when he is gone. Watching the progression of Louisa and James Harthouse's relationship, Mrs. Sparsit rather evilly gets it into her mind that Louisa is slowly descending... (full context)
Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
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...of their conversations, which Mrs. Sparsit spies on through a window but can't overhear, Mr. Harthouse manages to persuade Louisa that Stephen, whom she thought to be a just man, may... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 11
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
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...to her place for lunch that day, and learns that Tom is to meet Mr. Harthouse at the train station that night. She asks him to tell Louisa that she will... (full context)
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...night, she spies on Tom at the train station, and seeing him waiting impatiently for Harthouse at the train station without Harthouse appearing, she instantly suspects that Tom's appointment is a... (full context)
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...woods around the Bounderby house. Sure enough, she is rewarded by the sight of Mr. Harthouse passionately professing his love for Louisa. Louisa orders him to leave her; but he refuses.... (full context)
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Mr. Harthouse leaves, and Louisa goes back to the house, only to set out again after a... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 12
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Mrs. Sparsit was wrong: Louisa has not gone to Coketown to meet Mr. Harthouse, but rather to Stone Lodge to see her father. As it continues to storm outside,... (full context)
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Louisa then reveals to him that Mr. Harthouse has declared his love for her, and she doesn't know if she loves him or... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 2
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James Harthouse doesn't know what to think of Louisa's failure to appear at their rendezvous in Coketown.... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 7
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...he's in now—for leaving him alone with Mr. Bounderby, and for making his friend Mr. Harthouse leave town. (full context)