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What does the chapter "The Starlight" imply to the character, Stephen Blackpool in Hard...

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fictioned | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 5, 2011 at 2:38 AM via web

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What does the chapter "The Starlight" imply to the character, Stephen Blackpool in Hard Times?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 5, 2011 at 8:14 PM (Answer #1)

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It is this chapter, of course, that poor Stephen Blackpool tragically meets his end, having tumbled down a shaft. He is brought up and rescued, but only to die shortly after from his wounds. However, Dickens is good enough to give him a moment of epiphany before he dies, where he is able to reflect upon his situation and what has happend to him, and gain a measure of peace and acceptance. He is able to do this through contemplating the star that he can see from the bottom of the shaft, where he lies wounded. Note what he tells Rachel about this star and the impact that contemplating it has had upon him:

"It ha' shined upon me," he said reverently, "in my pain and trouble down below. It ha' shined into my mind. I ha' lookn at 't and thowt o' thee, Rachael, till the muddle in my mind have cleared awa, above a bit, I hope... In my pain an trouble, lookin' up yonder,--wi' it shinin' on me--I ha' seen more clear, and ha' made it my dyin' prayer that aw th' world may on'y coom toogether more, and get a better unnerstan'in o' one another, than when I were in't my own weak seln."

Moving and poignant words indeed from one who had been dealt such a poor hand in the game of life, but words that are perhaps typical of his stoicism and approach to life and the way that he refuses to be conquered by the troubles that he faces. At the end of the chapter, when he dies, Dickens tells us that it was the star had acted as a signpost directing him to his well-deserved eternal rest:

The star had shown him where to find the God of the poor; and through humility, and sorrow, and forgiveness, he had gone to his Redeemer's rest.

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