The Creature

"The Creature Struggled, Struck Her, Seized Her by the Hair; But Rachael Had the Cup." by Charles S. Reinhart (1844-1896). 13.1 cm wide by 10.3 cm high (horizontally mounted, with text above and below). This plate illustrates Book One, Chapter Thirteen, "Rachael," in Charles Dickens's Hard Times, which appeared in American Household Edition, 1870. P. 153.

We see not merely the same room from a different perspective, but the same woman in a wholly different mood, a hideous creature out of nightmare, her "debauched" face a terrifying spectre's or a witch's. Rachael, not even momentarily perturbed or set off balance by the unexpected assault, resolutely holds the cup (which moments before had contained the poisonous dram) in her right hand and grapples her attacker with her upstage (left) hand. This whole scene plays out in both media at once, for it begins at the top of the page and reaches the captioned moment at the bottom of the left-hand column.

The scene on page 153 seems to be unfolding through the consciousness of Mrs. Blackpool as she stretches out her hand towards the bottle (in Reinhart's realisation there is just one). However, since the running head above this illustration is "Stephen's Dream," Reinhart has developed the scene not from his usual perspective, that of an audience looking into the room through the fourth wall, but rather than of Stephen himself, seated across the room, looking towards the bed and the three-legged table at the bedside. As in the letter-press, Rachael's chair is by the curtained bed and Mrs. Blackpool regards her rival for Stephen's affections (the situation symbolised by the three-legged table) with eyes both "large" and "haggard and wild." A candle burns brightly on the window-ledge, flaring like the violent mood which has upon a sudden seized the addict.

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.]

Created 22 September 2002

Last modified 6 January 2020