Conflict

hard-timesDickens writes in the first chapter of Book Three ‘that what the Head had left undone and could not do, the Heart may have been doing silently.’ The conflict between Head and Heart is at times traumatic. However, Chapter Two is titled how I feel Chapter One ends: ‘Very Ridiculous’.

Furthermore, Harthouse, on learning his love never wants to see him again (Why?), says to Sissy, “I am not a moral sort of fellow…” and goes on for half a page. Who wants to roll around in that but a dog?

The conflict spreads to those old friends, Gradgrind (Louisa’s father) and Bounderby (Louisa’s husband). Gradgrind says, “Bounderby, this is unreasonable.” Neither is very factual. Gradgrind is full of fatherly feeling for his daughter and of self-doubt that he raised her properly. Bounderby is feeling affronted (though Gradgrind means him no insult). Maybe, time will allow the old friends to calm down: “Bounderby, the less we say to- night the better, I think.” But no. “On the contrary, Tom Gradgrind, the more we say to-night, the better, I think.” Gradgrind hits it on the head, when he says to Bounderby that “we may all be more or less in the wrong, not even excepting you.”

Which leads to the ultimate conflict of the heart, as Bounderby resumes his bachelor ways. But note: first, Louisa is left out–this is between her owners; second, no machines were harmed in the making of this conflict.

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