'Now, Thethilia, I Don't Athk To Know Any
    Thecreth, But I Thuppothe I May Conthider Thithn To Be Mith Thquire.'

"'Now, Thethilia, I Don't Athk To Know Any Thecreth, But I Thuppothe I May Conthider Thith To Be Mith Thquire.'" by Harry French. Wood engraving. 1870s. 13.3 cm wide x 9.4 cm high. Illustration for Dickens's Hard Times for These Times in the British Household Edition, p. 128. Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

Sleary, costumed as a ringmaster (exactly as in the title-page vignette, which suggests Plate 1 also alludes to this section), arranges for Tom's escape in disguise. With his son's safety apparently secure, Gradgrind broadcasts the truth about the bank robbery in the twentieth plate. The thematic connection is the revealing of guilt for a crime committed as a logical consequence of Gradgrind's inculcating his son with the Utilitarian doctrine of self-interest. The visual connection between these two plates is the figure of Sissy Jupe, whose altruism and moral integrity have saved both Tom and his sister. Curiously, as the grass flooring of Sleary's tent makes obvious, the illusory world of the circus combines nature and civilisation; it offers a synthetic family more supportive emotionally than the book's real families, and so improves upon nature. Tom's admission of guilt shortly after the moment realised in Plate 18 leads directly to the posted broadsheet of Plate 20.

Created 17 April 2002

Last modified 25 December 2019