Hard Times

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Rachael is a good, gentle woman who works at Bounderby's factory with Stephen and who is Stephen's best friend and only consolation in the hard times he goes through. She helps Stephen care for his drunken wife when she occasionally returns to haunt him, and is the sole defender of his innocence when, thanks to Tom, he becomes the main suspect in the Bank robbery. Stephen dies holding her hand.

Rachael Quotes in Hard Times

The Hard Times quotes below are all either spoken by Rachael or refer to Rachael. 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 1, Chapter 12 Quotes

No word of a new marriage had ever passed between them; but Rachael had taken great pity on him years ago, and to her alone he had opened his closed heart all this time, on the subject of his miseries; and he knew very well that if he were free to ask her, she would take him.

Related Characters: Stephen Blackpool, Rachael
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we learn more about why Stephen Blackpool is so unhappy. Stephen loves a woman named Rachael, but he can't marry her--he's already involved in a preexisting marriage, and can't get the divorce. Dickens suggests that because of society's narrow-minded rules and laws, Stephen is unable to enjoy the life he wants.

The passage has been criticized by some for suggesting that the real source of Stephen's misery is love, not his harsh existence at the factory. By focusing too much on the "human melodrama," one could argue, Dickens dilutes his own critique of factory conditions in England, so that his novel is moving but not especially politically progressive.

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Rachael Character Timeline in Hard Times

The timeline below shows where the character Rachael appears in Hard Times. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 10
Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
...a "hand" at Mr. Bounderby's factory, is waiting for a woman by the name of Rachael on a dark and wet night after work. He is an older, grey-haired man who... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 12
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
As the day ends and Stephen finishes his shift, he thinks longingly of Rachael and how his unhappiness would disappear if only he were free to marry her. (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 13
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
Upon returning home in the rain after his shift, Stephen finds that Rachael is there, caring for his wife. Rachael mentions that this is a duty of friendship... (full context)
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
...sitting up in bed, attempting to end her life by poisoning herself. Stephen freezes, but Rachael snatches the poison away from her just in time. The sick woman again falls asleep,... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 6
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Stephen steps out of Mr. Bounderby's house into the dark evening, and runs into Rachael and the old woman he met the last time he was at Bounderby's house, whose... (full context)
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
...Tom seems nervous and jumpy. Louisa and Tom then take their leave of Stephen, and Rachael does likewise. (full context)
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
...after a few days to seek employment in another town, regretting that he must leave Rachael behind. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 8
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
...not hiding anything. He hints that Louisa should mention neither the visit they paid Stephen, Rachael, and the old woman, nor the conversation that Tom had with Stephen that night. Louisa... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 4
Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
...shun Stephen. The mysterious old woman, Mrs. Pegler, who was seen walking with him and Rachael and who was sighted hanging around Bounderby's house and factory is also suspected. (full context)
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
Louisa is at Stone Lodge with Sissy when Mr. Bounderby, Tom, and Rachael call on them. This is no courtesy call: Rachael has been trying to prove Stephen's... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 5
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
Stephen still doesn't come. Sissy begins to visit Rachael in her home every day, trying to soothe Rachael's sadness about everyone turning against Stephen.... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 6
Femininity Theme Icon
Sissy and Rachael have gone to the country to spend some quiet time, and as they are walking... (full context)
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Industrialism and Its Evils Theme Icon
...night. Stephen recovers consciousness, though he is unable to move, and speaks to a tearful Rachael. He tells her that all of the workers have fallen into a pit, just as... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 9
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Unhappy Marriages Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
...philosophy of life and education so that facts make way for faith, hope and charity. Rachael spends the rest of her days serenely but sadly working in the factory, taking care... (full context)