Analyze the climax in Charles Dickens' "Hard Times."

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The climax of this story is when Louisa, having been discovered in an attempt to elope with James Harthouse, chooses not only to give up the elopement, but to return to her father's house and not her husbands.  A few different conflicts come to a head in this choice.  First is Louisa's conflict with herself.  She originally married Bounderby for the sake of her family, and not for love.  Here is a brief exchange between Louisa and her father over the proposal:

'Father,' pursued Louisa in exactly the same voice as before, 'do you ask me to love Mr. Bounderby?'

'My dear Louisa, no."

It was a large mistake.  She did not have a good understanding of Bounderby's character when she married him, and found that he was impossible to live with.  She was miserable.

Enter Harthouse, who presents a contrast to the passionless life Louisa has always lived.  She gets involved with him to escape the hopelessness of her own life.  But, again, she doesn't love him.  By choosing to leave Harthouse, and to return home, Louisa is accepting that her choices have been a mistake and she must start over at home.

Her return to home also allows Gradgrind to see full force the consequences of his "all fact" way of life.  In facing his daughter at this point, he is able to understand that his education of her has been deficient, and that he should have also been teaching emotional knowledge with the factual.