Hard Times


Charles Dickens

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Hard Times can help.

Hard Times: Book 3, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Louisa awakes to find herself in her old bed in her old room, feeling very weak. Her father comes in, and sorrowfully admits to her, as a man just waking from a dream, that the education of the Heart, which he neglected, may have been just as important as the education of the Head. Louisa is silent. But he adds that he doesn't know how to help her because he too never had an education of the Heart.
Louisa returning to her old bed in her father's house is symbolically returning to her childhood. But it is different this time, as a shaken Gradgrind has (to his credit) lost his certainty and realized that his philosophy of the "education of the Head" was flawed. Yet he himself was harmed by the same sort of education, and he knows no way forward.
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Mr. Gradgrind leaves her to rest, and Sissy comes in. Louisa immediately is filled with anger and resentment at the presence of this good and gentle friend. Sissy, however, shows much tenderness in caring for Louisa and eventually wins Louisa over with her humility and gentleness. Sissy vows to help teach Louisa how to feel and experience happiness.
Louisa's resentment stems from the fact that she knows that Sissy has access to a well of feeling that Louisa does not, and wants to have. That the uneducated daughter of a circus clown is so much a better and stronger person than a fact-educated woman like Louisa, and has more wisdom than a man of Parliament like Gradgrind, is a sign of the triumph of fancy over fact.
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Femininity Theme Icon
Related Quotes