Dickens convinces the reader to like some of the characters in Hard Times more than others through the course of the novel. Dickens makes the dislikable characters embody the bad characteristics of their society, such as selfishness, self-importance and the values of utilitarianism, furthering his argument against that philosophy. On the other hand, he makes the more likable characters represent the good qualities of the world and people that he thinks need to be preserved, such as honesty, compassion and imagination.
One of the characters that Dickens convinces the reader to like is Sissy. When Sissy is first introduced she is described as “so dark-eyed and dark-haired that she seemed to receive a deeper and more lustrous colour from the sun when it shone upon her.”(1, 2, p.14) A quality that Sissy has that makes the reader like her is her perseverance. Even though she has been through many hard times, such as losing her father, she has kept her imagination and luster that she had when she was a child. Not only has she kept her vibrant character, but she has also influenced those around her in a positive way. When Louisa comments on how her sister Jane’s face seems to be beaming, she answers and says, “Have I? I am very glad you think so. I am sure it must be Sissy’s doing.”(3, 1, p.220) Other characteristics that Dickens gives Sissy to make her appeal to the reader are her thoughtfulness and compassion. This is evident when Louisa comes home after the incident with Mr. Harthouse. Sissy confronts him so that he will not hurt Louisa anymore. She does this even though Louisa did not ask her to. She also shows her honesty in this scene when she is convincing Mr. Harthouse to leave Coketown. She simply tells him the truth of the s…
…nest. I have heard you talk, a hundred times, of it being a law. How can I help laws?”(3, 7, p.279) It is clear that he does not feel remorse or guilt about the crime he has committed, or for indirectly causing Stephen’s death. He even goes as far as telling Louisa, “You have regularly given me up. You never cared for me.”(3, 7, p.280) This is after she married Mr. Bounderby for Tom’s sake and after she gave him money to pay of his debt from gambling and drinking.
Dickens convinces the reader to like some of the characters and dislike others. He does this to further his argument against the issues of his society. He makes the likable characters embody the good and admirable qualities of society, while making the dislikable characters personify the problems. He does this through his descriptions of their appearance, speech, attitude and interaction with others.