Hard Times Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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In Hard Times, give a brief analysis of Rachael in Book the First.

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Rachael is a Hand that appears first in the novel in Chapter Ten of Book the First. She is hard-working and presented as a character that symbolises moral purity and domestic bliss to Stephen Blackpool, in sharp contrast to his drunken wife that continues to haunt him and prevent him achieving his happiness. Note how Rachael is presented in the novel:

She turned, being then in the brightness of a lamp; and raising her hood a little, showed a quiet oval face, dark and rather delicate, irradiated by a pair of very gentle eyes, and further set off by the perfect order of her shining black hair. It was not a face in its first bloom; she was a woman five-and-thirty years of age.

Notice how her description seems to set her against the harsh setting in which she lives and works. Stephen Blackpool is shown as being completely in love with her, for there was "not a tone of her voice but had its echo in his innermost heart."

In Chapter 13, we see more evidence of the kind of character that Rachael is. Note how she looks after Stephen Blackpool's drunken wife, and then prevents her from killing herself, when Stephen Blackpool is unable to bring himself to stop his wife from doing so. In response, Stephen calls her an "Angel." Her continued friendship with Stephen in spite of his situation and her devotion to him shows how loving and self-sacrificial she is.

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