Hard Times Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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Why was merrylegs emblematic ?

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In Charles Dicken's Hard Times, the character Sissy Jupe's father, Signor Jupe, had once been so depressed at his declining performance as an acrobatic clown due to his declining health that he beat his loyal dog, Merrylegs, bloody. This distressing scene is used to evoke pathos in Dicken's audience for the emotional stresses of the working class poor. Sissy does her best to soothe her father's anxieties and relieve his depression by reading legends, myths, and fairy tales out loud to him.

Sadly, the last time that Sissy sees her father, he is more depressed than ever. Sissy later relates a story to Mr. Gradgrind that when they were performing in Chester, an exhausted Merrylegs found them and promptly dropped dead.

Sissy takes this as emblematic of her own father's death, as she understood that Merrylegs would never otherwise have left his side. Merrylegs's last act was as a loyal family messenger—exhausting himself to deliver the tragic news of his master's death. This is even more pathetic in light of his sometimes ill-treatment at the hands of his depressed and declining master. Merrylegs is emblematic of the suffering that loved ones must endure in the stressful lives of the poor.

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