How do the names of the Characters in Hard Times reflect their roles/personalities? For example did Dickens use the last name Gradgrind for a reason? Is Sissy named Sissy Jupe for a reason? Whats the...

How do the names of the Characters in Hard Times reflect their roles/personalities?

For example did Dickens use the last name Gradgrind for a reason? Is Sissy named Sissy Jupe for a reason? Whats the meaning behind Sparsit? etc etc.

 

 

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janihash24 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Charles Dickens, like William Shakespeare, used character names to conjure up certain perceptions of the characters in the reader's (or audience member's ) mind. In the case of Hard Times, some of his satirical inventions are very easy to decipher; clearly, a teacher named "McChoakumchild" is not a paragon of progressive educational methods.

The use of "Gradgrind" as a surname...

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dornjenkins | Student

Sometimes the names are allusions:

Rachael - Biblical reference - Rachael was the name of Jesus' grandmother - the name also denotes purity and gentility. Also refers to a story where she was unable to marry her beloved Jacob for seven years (Take your pick - no one can be sure of what Dickens thought, but it will be something like this)

Stephen - Similarly Biblical - was one of the early church leaders - Blackpool - a popular coastal holiday resort at the time ( and now) probably refers to the Fact v Imagination theme.

Sissy (Cecilia) - Biblical - a sainted virgin protected by angels from being ravaged. Jupe... not really sure, but sounds like dupe - to be cruelly tricked (probably to denote that she is an innocent victim of the industrial system)

Gradgrind - denotes hardness and grinding

Bounderby - A bounder is the Victorian term for a rogue

Sparsit - like Bitzer - the combination of harsh letters has an almost onomatopoeic sound - invokes the words - nasty, bitter.

Sleary - makes you want to say 'Sthleary' picking up on his unique speech patterns - denotes perhaps a blurring around the edges, which fits into his role to oppose 'the hard fact fellows' who are all edges, squres and precision

 

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