Hard Times Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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Who runs the circus in Hard Times?

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The circus in Hard Times is run by a man known only as Mr Sleary. Accordingly, the Circus is called Sleary's Circus, and its members are Sleary's People. Dickens seems to use the circus to serve as a foil to the type of society Mr Gradgrind presides over. Where Gradgrind privileges and harps upon the importance of "facts," the lisping Mr Sleary says it is of paramount importance that people be "amuthed" and is shown as a fond and protective father figure to Sissy, who is not his own daughter—rather, she is the daughter of a circus clown.

The members of Sleary's circus stick together, and they seem able to maintain a generally positive and upbeat mindset even when times are hard. Ultimately, however, Sleary does allow Sissy to leave the circus with the statement that she will probably be able to have a better life taking Gradgrind's offer than if she were to stay to be a circus performer herself.

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