Spring 2020

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Dr. Alexis Easley,


In this essay, I explore the connection between imagination and images of domestic space as theorized by Gaston Bachelard in order to examine the spaces Louisa Gradgrind inhabits in Charles Dickens’s Hard Times. While Louisa’s occupation of space sustains her imagination, it does not provide her with an emotional outlet. Sissy Jupe, a circus girl taken in by the Gradgrinds after her father’s disappearance, inhabits the same spaces as Louisa. Being strongly connected to her emotions, Sissy embodies authentic empathy and love for others. Because her emotions are integrated with her imagination, she is capable of helping Louisa integrate her own emotional and imaginative life. By exploring Louisa’s emotional and imaginative awakening within the spaces she inhabits, I will argue that Dickens provides us, as he also provided Victorian readers, with an example of how openness to empathy and empathetic reading can allow individuals to reintegrate their identity even after living a lifetime of disintegrated interiority.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.