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Hard Times > Part II Chapters 01 - 05

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message 1: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Dear Pickwickians,

I am going to post this week’s threads today because tomorrow, we are having a load of guests and I am not sure whether I’ll find some time to settle down and do something Pickwickian.
I don’t know how you feel about our experiment of mirroring the weekly readings portions in our own pace of perusing the novel but I think there were two sides to it: On the one hand, it was an interesting experience to notice what it was like for contemporary readers to have to wait a whole week before being led on to the next dramatic event they were entitled to expect after the sometimes cliffhangerish endings of the respective final chapters. On the other hand, I could not really start feeling at home with the novel yet because as soon as I had read myself into Coketown affairs, the two chapters were finished and I had to wait for another week. Therefore I am quite glad that from now on, there will be more weekly Dickens again, and Part II of the novel, which is called “Reaping”, seems to pick up pace with the advent of a new, probably fiendish, character.

Chapter 1 is entitled “Effects in the Bank”, and in its course we learn that one year has passed since Louisa’s marriage. It is a sunny midsummer day, which is not to enjoyable in Coketown because even from afar “Coketown lay shrouded in a haze of its own, which appeared to be impervious to the sun’s rays.” This is clearly also metaphorical, and the narrator once again starts voicing social criticism, which seems all too modern:

”Surely there never was such fragile china-ware as that of which the millers of Coketown were made. Handle them never so lightly, and they fell to pieces with such ease that you might suspect them of having been flawed before. They were ruined, when they were required to send labouring children to school; they were ruined when inspectors were appointed to look into their works; they were ruined, when such inspectors considered it doubtful whether they were quite justified in chopping people up with their machinery; they were utterly undone, when it was hinted that perhaps they need not always make quite so much smoke.”

The narrator’s criticism also encompasses environmental issues, e.g. when he describes the insalubrious effects of a sunny day with regard to living conditions in Coketown, where everything then smells of machinery oil. We also get very graphic pictures of environmental pollution such as:

”Down upon the river that was black and thick with dye, some Coketown boys who were at large—a rare sight there—rowed a crazy boat, which made a spumous track upon the water as it jogged along, while every dip of an oar stirred up vile smells. But the sun itself, however beneficent, generally, was less kind to Coketown than hard frost, and rarely looked intently into any of its closer regions without engendering more death than life. So does the eye of Heaven itself become an evil eye, when incapable or sordid hands are interposed between it and the things it looks upon to bless.”

The narrator then shifts his attention to Mr. Bounderby’s bank, which is guarded, Cerberus-like, by Mrs. Sparsit, who has all these months never stopped to endow Mr. Bounderby, whenever she saw him, with that unwanted pitiful glance. Finally, in the description of Mrs. Sparsit’s adorning the bank with her presence, the narrator allows himself some humour, albeit of a very cutting sort, which I personally like best:

”Mrs. Sparsit was conscious that by coming in the evening-tide among the desks and writing implements, she shed a feminine, not to say also aristocratic, grace upon the office. Seated, with her needlework or netting apparatus, at the window, she had a self-laudatory sense of correcting, by her ladylike deportment, the rude business aspect of the place. With this impression of her interesting character upon her, Mrs. Sparsit considered herself, in some sort, the Bank Fairy. The townspeople who, in their passing and repassing, saw her there, regarded her as the Bank Dragon keeping watch over the treasures of the mine.”

Equally funny is the following detail in the description of the bank:

”[…] that respectable tradition never to be separated from a place of business claiming to be wealthy—a row of fire-buckets—vessels calculated to be of no physical utility on any occasion, but observed to exercise a fine moral influence, almost equal to bullion, on most beholders.“

Is that, maybe, a slight allusion to the question whether what people in general deem reliable is really as reliable as they think? Does this refer to life in general, or to certain institutions, like marriages and banks? We don’t know as yet.

Mrs. Sparsit is enjoying her evening meal in her usual self-forbearing manner, or show of self-forbearance, while she is listening to the denunciatory talk of the light porter, who is an old acquaintance of ours – namely Bitzer, the boy who defined horses and stalked Sissy. Bitzer first talks about the problems Coketown is having with trade unionism, which leads Mrs. Sparsit to most decided, yet also most paradoxical statements as the following:

”’It is much to be regretted […] that the united masters allow of any such class-combinations. […] Being united themselves, they ought one and all to set their faces against employing any man who is united with any other man’”

Clearly, the narrator expects his readers to realize the double moral standards with which someone like Mrs. Sparsit looks at the case – and yet, we will get an impression at what the narrator – or even Dickens himself? – thinks of trade unions later on.

Bitzer – who, coming from Mr. Gradgrind’s school, has grown a very calculating and passionless youth, serving as an informer – also informs Mrs. Sparsit of young Tom Gradgrind’s extravagant and careless ways, which are, as yet, unknown to Mr. Bounderby. Mrs. Sparsit receives this information with a tickled sense of endorsement of her own opinion on Mr. Bounderby’s union with Louisa, although she strictly forbids Bitzer to mention any concrete names to her. Bitzer points out his own resourcefulness, his zeal and frugality in contrast to Thomas, and says that since he himself has moved from poor origins to his position, everyone else should also be able to improve their own lives. Now, this reminded me in a little way of old Bounderby’s constant bragging of rising from rags to riches, and the narrator quickly adds:

”This, again, was among the fictions of Coketown. Any capitalist there, who had made sixty thousand pounds out of sixpence, always professed to wonder why the sixty thousand nearest Hands didn’t each make sixty thousand pounds out of sixpence, and more or less reproached them every one for not accomplishing the little feat. What I did you can do. Why don’t you go and do it?”

Mrs. Sparsit all the while, nods her head in agreement, eating muffin – as the narrator points out. The conversation between her and Bitzer is now brought to an end, though, because Bitzer has spotted a visitor and thinks it advisable that Mrs. Sparsit receive this man. When this eminent woman meets the strange gentleman, the narrator interposes:

”For it was to be seen with half an eye that he was a thorough gentleman, made to the model of the time; weary of everything, and putting no more faith in anything than Lucifer.”

Mrs. Sparsit, however, puts him down as 35, good-looking and well-dressed, and this suffices for her. In the course of their conversation, in which the gentleman leaves a lot of room for Mrs. Sparsit to talk about herself, it becomes clear that the stranger wants to show a letter of recommendation to Mr. Bounderby and that this letter was written by Mr. Gradgrind. The gentleman is especially interested in Mrs. Bounderby, in her age and in her manner, and he asks rather worrying questions like:

”’[…]Is she absolutely unapproachable? Repellently and stunningly clever? I see, by your meaning smile, you think not. You have poured balm into my anxious soul. […]’”

Unapproachable? What a strange thing to enquire about. Why is he so interested in Louisa in the first place? And what is his business with Mr. Bounderby? We’ll have to wait until the next chapter, though, to have some of our questions answered. This chapter closes with the gentleman taking his leave, and Mrs. Sparsit, in the privacy of her room, after a long, long reverie, exclaiming the words “O, you Fool!”

I wonder whom they refer to. Herself? Not very likely, or maybe she realizes that she has talked too much about certain people to this young man. To the young man? She might think him anything but a fool. To Mr. Bounderby? To Mr. Gradgrind?


message 2: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy In Chapter 2, we are given, even in the chapter title, the name of the mysterious stranger: He is called “Mr. James Harthouse”, and the narrator presents him as the younger brother of a callous man who has worked for Mr. Gradgrind and his party. The elder brother told his younger sibling that there might be an opening in life in associating with the Gradgrind party, and accordingly, James Harthouse does. We learn of Mr. Harthouse that he is a good-looking man

”who had tried life as a Cornet of Dragoons, and found it a bore; and had afterwards tried it in the train of an English minister abroad, and found it a bore; and had then strolled to Jerusalem, and got bored there; and had then gone yachting about the world, and got bored everywhere.”

In other words, he is not exactly a man of principle – with the possible exception of the principle of looking after his own interests first. After making himself familiar with some of Mr. Gradgrind’s notorious “blue books”, Harthouse gained Mr. Gradgrind’s confidence and is now sent to Coketown so that he may get known in the vicinity – probably with a view to becoming an MP? Mr. Harthouse’s name is certainly interesting, in that it seems to offer at least three associations, namely “a hard house”, “heart-house” and, more on the sensual level, “hart-house”. Maybe this can tell us something about the role he is going to play.

At present, he seems, above all like a good observer. He enjoys Bounderby’s hospitality and cunningly agrees with him on everything he says about the workers and the clash of interest between them and their masters, but he also takes a good observing look at Louisa:

”She was so constrained, and yet so careless; so reserved, and yet so watchful; so cold and proud, and yet so sensitively ashamed of her husband’s braggart humility—from which she shrunk as if every example of it were a cut or a blow; that it was quite a new sensation to observe her. In face she was no less remarkable than in manner. Her features were handsome; but their natural play was so locked up, that it seemed impossible to guess at their genuine expression. Utterly indifferent, perfectly self-reliant, never at a loss, and yet never at her ease, with her figure in company with them there, and her mind apparently quite alone—it was of no use ‘going in’ yet awhile to comprehend this girl, for she baffled all penetration.”

This looks a lot like somebody trying to find out how the land is lying. Mr. Bounderby had better watch out! Still he brags about her, or rather himself, when he points out:

”’[…] You observe, Mr. Harthouse, that my wife is my junior. I don’t know what she saw in me to marry me, but she saw something in me, I suppose, or she wouldn’t have married me. She has lots of expensive knowledge, sir, political and otherwise. […]’”

Mr. Bounderby had better remember his talks with Mr. Gradgrind, and he would know why Louisa married him. He might also think about young Tom’s position in his house, and he would still know better why Louisa married him. The expression “expensive knowledge” marks him down as a utilitarian dunce, instead.

Mr. Harthouse successfully charms Louisa by what the narrator condemns as the “vicious assumption of honesty in dishonesty – a vice so dangerous, so deadly, and so common”, and he also quickly perceives that Tom, whom he refers to, in his mind, as the young whelp, seems to be one key to understanding Louisa. Accordingly, he makes sure that Tom will accompany him home when his visit at the Bounderbys’ draws to a close.


message 3: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy The third chapter, „The Whelp“, seems to be of crucial importance to the plot development since the narrator finishes it with rather ominous words, with which I am going to finish this summary – so you still have to wait a bit for them.

At the beginning of the chapter, the narrator points out to Tom’s education according to Facts, Facts, Facts as an explanation of his inclination to hypocrisy, his lack of discipline and his waywardness and obsession with easy pleasures. And yet, he narrator remains very hard on Tom, which already becomes clear by his taking over the epithet of “The whelp” from Mr. Harthouse whenever he refers to young Tom. Frankly speaking, I can understand the narrator because Tom is definitely disgusting and despicable, a full-blown cad if ever there was one.

Arriving at Mr. Harthouse’s place, this scheming gentleman flatters Tom’s vanity by assuming a tone of easy familiarity and by offering him cigars and spirits, and by and by the older man manages to establish a kind of influence over the younger:

”James Harthouse continued to lounge in the same place and attitude, smoking his cigar in his own easy way, and looking pleasantly at the whelp, as if he knew himself to be a kind of agreeable demon who had only to hover over him, and he must give up his whole soul if required. It certainly did seem that the whelp yielded to this influence.”

So, by and by, Tom lets out the secret behind the Bounderby marriage, namely that Louisa does not care at all for Bounderby and only married him because her father expected her to do so but also, this reason weighing heavier with her, because she could do her brother a service with that union. The following extract from their conversation shows how cleverly Harthouse draws out all the information he wants from Tom – a bit like the Heeps corkscrewed David – and also what kind of ungrateful and wretched creature Tom is. Let Dickens’s masterful dialogue speak for itself:

”‘You know our governor, Mr. Harthouse,’ said Tom, ‘and therefore, you needn’t be surprised that Loo married old Bounderby. She never had a lover, and the governor proposed old Bounderby, and she took him.’
‘Very dutiful in your interesting sister,’ said Mr. James Harthouse.
‘Yes, but she wouldn’t have been as dutiful, and it would not have come off as easily,’ returned the whelp, ‘if it hadn’t been for me.’
The tempter merely lifted his eyebrows; but the whelp was obliged to go on.
‘I persuaded her,’ he said, with an edifying air of superiority. ‘I was stuck into old Bounderby’s bank (where I never wanted to be), and I knew I should get into scrapes there, if she put old Bounderby’s pipe out; so I told her my wishes, and she came into them. She would do anything for me. It was very game of her, wasn’t it?’
‘It was charming, Tom!’
‘Not that it was altogether so important to her as it was to me,’ continued Tom coolly, ‘because my liberty and comfort, and perhaps my getting on, depended on it; and she had no other lover, and staying at home was like staying in jail—especially when I was gone. It wasn’t as if she gave up another lover for old Bounderby; but still it was a good thing in her.’
‘Perfectly delightful. And she gets on so placidly.’
‘Oh,’ returned Tom, with contemptuous patronage, ‘she’s a regular girl. A girl can get on anywhere. She has settled down to the life, and she don’t mind. It does just as well as another. Besides, though Loo is a girl, she’s not a common sort of girl. She can shut herself up within herself, and think—as I have often known her sit and watch the fire—for an hour at a stretch.’”


As soon as Mr. Harthouse has learnt enough from Tom, the whelp mysteriously gives in to the influence of drink and tobacco, and he is – rather roughly, as it seems to him – got rid of. And now the narrator says the following ominous words:

”The whelp went home, and went to bed. If he had had any sense of what he had done that night, and had been less of a whelp and more of a brother, he might have turned short on the road, might have gone down to the ill-smelling river that was dyed black, might have gone to bed in it for good and all, and have curtained his head for ever with its filthy waters.”


message 4: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Chapter 4 is dealing with „Men and Brothers“ and it can be summarized rather quickly because it just tells you how Stephen Blackpool is ostracized for not following suit with the policies of the United Aggregate Tribunal, a trade union. Apparently, Stephen is the only worker in the mill not to be organized in the union, and when the workers allow him to defend himself, he says that he also has personal reasons that would hinder him from becoming a member even if he wanted to. Stephen, the poor martyr that he is, says he is ready to accept being shunned by his fellow workers for this decision but he also entreats them to let him go on in his job in the mill because he has to earn his living somehow.

Obviously we are supposed to feel pity with Stephen since the narrator says:

”Thus easily did Stephen Blackpool fall into the loneliest of lives, the life of solitude among a familiar crowd.”

Making Stephen an outcast even among his fellow-workers, many of whom, as the text points out, do bear him no personal grudge, obfuscates the social message of the novel a bit, as I think, in that we come to pity Stephen as a martyr, whose life is a chain of humiliations, deprivations and failures, and we no longer see him as a working man. This tendency is reinforced by Dickens’s portrayal of the trade union official Slackbridge, who tries to rouse the workers’ anger against Stephen:

”As he stood there, trying to quench his fiery face with his drink of water, the comparison between the orator and the crowd of attentive faces turned towards him, was extremely to his disadvantage. Judging him by Nature’s evidence, he was above the mass in very little but the stage on which he stood. In many great respects he was essentially below them. He was not so honest, he was not so manly, he was not so good-humoured; he substituted cunning for their simplicity, and passion for their safe solid sense. An ill-made, high-shouldered man, with lowering brows, and his features crushed into an habitually sour expression, he contrasted most unfavourably, even in his mongrel dress, with the great body of his hearers in their plain working clothes.”

We also learn that he has “froth and fume” in him and that he wipes his forehead exclusively from left to right and never the other way round – what is that supposed to mean, I wonder? The narrator also states in so many words that the organized workers were wrong in their beliefs. All in all, in this chapter the narrator – and Dickens – leave no doubt that while mill-owners exploited workers unduly, it was still wrong in them to organize themselves in unions and start collective action. Instead they were probably supposed to cut a pathetic figure like Stephen Blackpool and wait for the government to see to it that work regulations might eventually better their lot. Meanwhile they were to bear their lot in patience, apparently, and not to contaminate their innate decency by listening to tempters such as Slackbridge.


message 5: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Chapter 5 leads us from men and brothers on to „Men and Masters“, which does not portend any good. Stephen has been suffering for a while, also because he does not want to consort with Rachael for fear of bringing the ostracism on her head, too, when he is asked to betake himself to Mr. Bounderby, who wants to talk to him.

Stephen finds Mr. Bounderby in the company of his wife, of the whelp and of Mr. Harthouse, and without much ado his employer asks him to tell them what he knows about the trade unions. This, Stephen declines to do, making Bounderby’s hackles go up immediately. All Stephen is ready to admit is that he has made a promiss to somebody unknown not to join the union. He also claims that workers are ill-treated and are not well-remunerated – while he is having his say, he is looking at Louisa mainly, and not at anyone else –, and all this makes Mr. Bounderby so mad that he finally gives Stephen the sack, saying that he was just an ill-tempered, trouble-making fellow. When Stephen gets this news of his being sacked, Louisa’s eyes are not resting on him any more.


message 6: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 392 comments The townspeople who, in their passing and repassing, saw her there, regarded her as the Bank Dragon keeping watch over the treasures of the mine.”

Surely JK Rowling had this passage in mind when she created the wizarding bank Gringotts, where the vaults were far beneath the earth and protected by a dragon. Dickens' influence lives on.


message 7: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 392 comments I'd hoped, when Harthouse was introduced, that we might have a Hero. Instead it would appear we have yet another self-centered man who is manipulative and whose riches have created such a high threshold for excitement that I can't help but think he will leave tragedy in his wake. His dismissal of Tom after getting information out of him, and the ominous passage about Tom going to bed in the river don't bode well. I haven't yet read the last two chapters in this section. Hope to get to them later today.


message 8: by Kim (last edited Mar 01, 2016 08:57AM) (new)

Kim Here is an illustration by Frederick Walker for this installment:


"Harthouse Dines at the Bounderbys"

Part II Chapter 2

Frederick Walker

Commentary:

"The illustrator is pointing towards a moment in the second chapter of Book Two, after Bounderby has paraded his new ally before "the voting and interesting nobilities of Coketown and its vicinity." Walker has shortened the table (set for four, but with only three seated, as in the text) considerably to include all four figures: Louisa (left, at the head of the table, as in the letter-press), Tom revealed to us principally through Louisa' s gaze, Bounderby seated next to him, and at the foot of the table, scrutinizing the others, James ("Jem") Harthouse.

The precise instant that Walker has chosen to capture is when Louisa reaches for Tom's hand, a gesture repeated by Mrs. Blackpool and the bottle in the next plate. Supposedly having worked overtime at the bank, Tom (back towards us) has arrived late for dinner. The artist focuses the viewer' s attention on the beautiful, young wife in fashionable dress. He accentuates the vivifying elements of the scene: Louisa's small hand; graceful neck; enchanting smile; and large, oval eyes, full of adoration for her wastrel brother, back towards us. The bearded diner, center, is likely her husband, who is about to chastise his brother-in-law for his tardiness (this is Bounderby's only appearance in Walker' s programme of illustration, whereas the others will each appear once again). The diner at the far right is presumably Harthouse, whose mutton-chop whiskers (not described by Dickens, and therefore Walker's invention). While Bounderby speculates on the vittles before him in salvers and tureens (although Dickens indicates the soup and fish courses have already been served), the impassive Harthouse shrewdly appraises the relationship between "The Whelp" and his attractive sister. Everything else in the scene is Walker's invention: the lack of servants, the candelabrum, the inverted tumbler (suggestive of abstemiousness) and upright wineglasses, the portrait of a middle-aged, fashionably dressed man grasping a document (suggestive of Bounderby's proprietary rights to Louisa, perhaps), the wainscoting, the ever-so-slightly patterned carpet (consonant with friend and father-in-law Thomas Gradgrind' s tastes in interior design), and the Ottoman filling the immediate foreground which seems in Tom' s way, as if it will trip him up when he turns."



message 9: by Kim (last edited Mar 01, 2016 08:58AM) (new)

Kim Another illustration, this one by Harry French:


"'This, Sir, 'Said Bounderby, 'Is My Wife, Mrs. Bounderby.'"

Part II Chapter 2

Harry French

Illustration for Dickens's Hard Times for These Times in the British Household Edition


message 10: by Kim (new)

Kim Another illustration by Harry French:


"'This, Sir, 'Said Bounderby, 'Is My Wife, Mrs. Bounderby.'"

Part II Chapter 3

Harry French

This illustration from the British Household Edition of Dickens's Hard Times for These Times depicts James Harthouse leaning against the mantlepiece in his hotel room while Tom Gradgrind lounges on the sofa (Book II, Ch. 3).


message 11: by Kim (new)

Kim

"'Heaven Help Us Aw In This World!'"

Part II Chapter

Harry French

"Illustration for Dickens's Hard Times for These Times in the British Household Edition.

This illustration, which depicts Stephen, Bounderby, Harthouse, Louisa, and Tom, shows Stephen leaving the red brick castle of the giant Bounderby, dissatisfied about the antipathy between labour (as represented by the demagogue Slackbridge) and management (as represented by Bounderby)."



Text Illustrated:

‘You are such a waspish, raspish, ill-conditioned chap, you see,’ said Mr. Bounderby, ‘that even your own Union, the men who know you best, will have nothing to do with you. I never thought those fellows could be right in anything; but I tell you what! I so far go along with them for a novelty, that I’ll have nothing to do with you either.’

Stephen raised his eyes quickly to his face.

‘You can finish off what you’re at,’ said Mr. Bounderby, with a meaning nod, ‘and then go elsewhere.’

‘Sir, yo know weel,’ said Stephen expressively, ‘that if I canna get work wi’ yo, I canna get it elsewheer.’

The reply was, ‘What I know, I know; and what you know, you know. I have no more to say about it.’

Stephen glanced at Louisa again, but her eyes were raised to his no more; therefore, with a sigh, and saying, barely above his breath, ‘Heaven help us aw in this world!’ he departed."



message 12: by Kim (new)

Kim Charles S. Reinhart gave us this illustration:


"The Lady Is Quite A Philosopher, I Am Told?"

Part II Chapter 1

Charles S. Reinhart

"This plate illustrates Book Two, Chapter One, "Effects in the Bank," in Charles Dickens's Hard Times, which appeared in American Household Edition, 1870."

Commentary:

"In the rooms above Bounderby's bank, the Satanically smooth James Harthouse attempts to extract information about the Bounderbys' marriage from the all-observing Mrs. Sparsit, enthroned like some grim parody of Queen Victoria. Like the gentleman in the plate of a contemporary fashion magazine, the immaculately turned out London visitor strikes a pose as he carefully observes his interlocutor, "fluttering over Mrs. Sparsit's eyebrows with a propitiatory air". The time is early evening, the venue the boardroom above the bank offices. We see James Harthouse, "weary of everything, and putting no more faith in anything than Lucifer", as Mrs. Sparsit, sitting beside her tea-table (but recently cleared by Bitzer) sees him: "Five-and-thirty, good-looking, good figure, good teeth, good voice, good breeding, well-dressed, dark hair, bold eyes." The curtained window, to which Bitzer had stepped to see who was knocking, is immediately behind him, but unlit by the brilliant late afternoon sun, for it is on the "shadier" side of the street. The great table of the unornamented managerial boardroom must be immediately behind us as we overhear the conversation at close quarters. The oak table upon which Harthouse leans seems larger than a tea-table, and is almost certainly not one of the three-legged variety described by Dickens. The only hint that this is a corporate boardroom is the shadowy print -- a schematic of a steamer, perhaps? -- on the wall behind Mrs. Sparsit's mask-like head."


message 13: by Kim (new)

Kim Another by Charles Reinhart:



"'My Sister Loo?' Said Tom. 'She Never Cared for Old Bounderby.'"

Part II Chapter 3

Charles S. Reinhart.

This plate illustrates Book Two, Chapter Three, "The Whelp," in Charles Dickens's Hard Times, which appeared in American Household Edition, 1870.

"In James Harthouse's hotel room, having detected at Bounderby's a change come over Louisa's face as she opened the door for her scapegrace brother, Harthouse plies Tom with drink and strong tobacco. Reinhart has little to go on from Dickens's scant description of the room at the railway hotel: "Tom was soon in a highly free-and-easy state at his end of the sofa", left, which the artist has augmented with a matching easy-chair, right. At this point, as in the text on the previous page, Harthouse has risen from the couch, "and lounging with his back against the chimney-piece, so that he stood before the empty fire-grate as he smoked", studies the Whelp. Their conversation, focusing on Louisa's upbringing and subsequent marriage, continues on the selfsame page as Reinhart's plate, smoke ascending from Tom's recently lit cigar, his glass ("a cooling drink adapted to the weather") now drained. The furnishings and chimney-piece are rather better than one might have expected, but perhaps the ally of Gradgrind and Bounderby, "Those Hard Fact Fellows," has been given the best room in the house."


message 14: by Kim (new)

Kim There were certainly a lot of illustrators who seemed fascinated with either Harthouse, Tom, or both of them. Here is one by Sol Eytinge, Jr.



"Mr. Harthouse and Tom,"

Part II Chapter 3

Sol Eytinge, Jr.

Commentary:


In this fifth full-page dual character study for the second novel in the compact American publication (which predates the Chapman and Hall Illustrated Library Edition of the novel by just a year), the indolent Tom, Bounderby's wastrel employee and brother-in-law, enjoys some of his new friend's, James Harthouse's, potent tobacco in the latter's hotel-room as a clear-headed Harthouse (right) studies him. In the background, alcoholic beverages suggest that the visiting aristocrat is trying to pry some family secrets out of Tom in Chapter 3 of Book Two, "The Reaping." The moment that Eytinge has chosen to represent the relationship between the passive-aggressive Tom and Harthouse, both Harry French and C. S. Reinhart, the British and American Household edition illustrators respectively, chose subsequently in their longer and larger-scale narrative-pictorial sequences.

French's treatment of the scene in his sequence of twenty plates, "What A Comical Brother-In-Law You Are!" is far more naturalistic (with many details of the hotel room included), Reinhart's "'My Sister Loo?' Said Tom. 'She Never Cared for Old Bounderby'" far more impressionistic than Eytinge's treatment; however, all three could broadly be dubbed "realistic" in relation to the earlier caricature style of Phiz, Cruikshank, and Cattermole. Eytinge's Harthouse is more severe and self-controlled than the parallel, more casual and substantial figures in the other illustrations, and significantly he is neither smoking or drinking in "Mr. Harthouse and Tom" as coolly gathers intelligence that may be of use to him in his forthcoming campaign to win Louisa. Eytinge's mutton-chopped, fashionably dressed Harthouse, aloof and in control, studies his guest carefully, dispassionately from his vantage point of the fireplace.

It was ten years after Eytinge's work on the Diamond Edition of the novel, for the British Household Edition, illustrator Harry French chose precisely the same scene to analyze the relationship between the disaffected Tom and Harthouse. In "What A Comical Brother-In-Law You Are!", French's Tom seems both somewhat older and larger than Eytinge's, and Harthouse is more casually posed in a hotel room more fully realised in French's illustration.

C. S. Reinhart, too, in the American Household Edition of Hard Times (1876), has chosen this precise moment as the subject of one of his sixteen illustrations. In "'My Sister Loo?' Said Tom. 'She Never Cared for Old Bounderby'", the American illustrator offers a more hurried pen-and-ink sketch of the pair, with a less engaged Tom and a more relaxed Harthouse. But, again, the newcomer is clearly studying his guest as he plies him with drink and tobacco, a scene redolent with Tom's bitterness."


message 15: by Peter (last edited Mar 01, 2016 10:41AM) (new)

Peter Tristram wrote: "Dear Pickwickians,

I am going to post this week’s threads today because tomorrow, we are having a load of guests and I am not sure whether I’ll find some time to settle down and do something Pickw..."


Yes, there does seem to be a perceptive uptick in the action and potential in this chapter. Coketown has remained its hot, smelly, filthy self over the past year, Mrs Sparsit is comfortably settled in as the Bank Fairy, and Bitzer has graduated to become the perfect Benthamite model whose "mind was so exactly regulated, that he had no affections or passions" and is content with his own mother being sent to the workhouse.

To me, the key to the chapter is found within the smoke. The end of the chapter is framed with Mrs. Sparsit "at the window, when the sun began to sink behind the smoke; she sat there when the smoke was burning red." The beginning of the chapter is framed by "a blur of soot and smoke." Within this framework of the beginning and the end of the chapter comes a stranger " a thorough gentleman ... weary of everything and putting no more faith in anything than Lucifer."

The man's name is Harthouse, and if we are to accept that Dickens has been particularly careful with the names of the characters in this novel, then we must look at this name closely too. On the surface, the name seems harmless, or, even positive. The novel does need some "heart" and we have yet to encounter a house that reflects much harmony towards the reader. This man, is, however, one of mystery, one whose first appearance in the novel is framed and shrouded by smoke, red smoke, frequent references to heat and a town that smells as if it is "frying in oil."

I believe Dickens is signalling the coming of danger, of evil, of a tempter, a Lucifer. Smoke, red smoke, heat, a foul odour, and the mention of Lucifer all suggest that this man will not bring any heart to anyone's home; he will, rather, attempt to destroy homes without any feelings or heart whatsoever. An early indication of the changes James Harthouse will bring is seen in the way Dickens shifts from referring to Louisa's brother as Tom to having Harthouse conceive to refer to Tom as "the whelp." Here, with the reduction of a person's name to that of a beast, we see again the importance of names in HT.

Bounderby refers to James Harthouse on more occasion as " a gentleman." This appalation is suggestive as well. In Shakespeare's King Lear Edgar laments "the prince of darkness is a gentleman." I think we have met, in the person of James Harthouse, the devil of this story.


message 16: by Peter (new)

Peter Kim wrote: "There were certainly a lot of illustrators who seemed fascinated with either Harthouse, Tom, or both of them. Here is one by Sol Eytinge, Jr.

"Mr. Harthouse and Tom,"

Part II Chapter 3

Sol Eyti..."


Hi Kim

I was writing my post when you posted this. Yes. The Harthouse - Tom relationship is indeed fascinating. Tom may well be using Loiusa for his own advancement but he too, I fear, will become a mere tool in the hands of a much wiser and wily Harthouse.


message 17: by Suzy (last edited Mar 01, 2016 11:51AM) (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) Tristram wrote: "Chapter 4 is dealing with „Men and Brothers“ and it can be summarized rather quickly because it just tells you how Stephen Blackpool is ostracized for not following suit with the policies of the Un..."

I'm jumping in to the conversation for the first time - just finished Part II, chapter 5. Your questions about Dickens's stance related to workers, exploitation, unionization is an interesting one. I've been thinking he is making a social commentary on the evils of worker exploitation, but now question that viewpoint.

Did anyone else wonder why Stephen Blackpool made a promise never to join a worker combine? And is he a hero or a victim? Interesting that he has had two encounters with Bounderby so far in the book.

Kim, thanks for all the illustrations! I'm reading The Everyman's Library and it contains a few. Interesting to see the different portrayals of people. Were there any illustrations of the factories, the work conditions or the Slackbridge meeting?


message 18: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 392 comments Peter wrote: " if we are to accept that Dickens has been particularly careful with the names of the characters in this novel, then we must look at this name closely too. "

...which caused me to take a look at the name "Bitzer" which, I learned, is an Australian term for a mutt or mongrel, presumably derived from "bits of this and that". So we have two dog references in "Bitzer" and "the whelp". While neither name, at least for a dog lover, is necessarily negative, neither conveys a positive, strong image, either. Bitzer would be considered to be of low birth, not having any pedigree, while Tom, the whelp, is young and immature, still wet behind the ears.

All this dog talk has me missing sweet Merrylegs.


message 19: by Peter (new)

Peter Mary Lou wrote: "Peter wrote: " if we are to accept that Dickens has been particularly careful with the names of the characters in this novel, then we must look at this name closely too. "

...which caused me to ta..."


Mary Lou

Thank you for the information on the Australian meaning of Bitzer. It seems each Dickens novel I decide to follow some thread of a name, animal, bird or other such reference in the novel and each time am fascinated where it leads. Great stuff!


message 20: by Kim (new)

Kim Tristram wrote: "We learn of Mr. Harthouse that he is a good-looking man

”who had tried life as a Cornet of Dragoons, and found it a bore; and had afterwards tried it in the train of an English minister abroad, and found it a bore; and had then strolled to Jerusalem, and got bored there; and had then gone yachting about the world, and got bored everywhere.”


When I read the above part when Mr. Harthouse is bored with everything, something about it seemed so familiar to me, as if another Dickens character somewhere along the way had also been bored everywhere. I've been searching for the character and I found this in "Bleak House", it's Lady Dedlock:

"Sooth to say, they cannot go away too fast, for even here my Lady Dedlock has been bored to death. Concert, assembly, opera, theatre, drive, nothing is new to my Lady under the worn-out heavens. Only last Sunday, when poor wretches were gay—within the walls playing with children among the clipped trees and the statues in the Palace Garden; walking, a score abreast, in the Elysian Fields, made more Elysian by performing dogs and wooden horses; between whiles filtering (a few) through the gloomy Cathedral of Our Lady to say a word or two at the base of a pillar within flare of a rusty little gridiron-full of gusty little tapers; without the walls encompassing Paris with dancing, love-making, wine-drinking, tobacco-smoking, tomb-visiting, billiard card and domino playing, quack-doctoring, and much murderous refuse, animate and inanimate—only last Sunday, my Lady, in the desolation of Boredom and the clutch of Giant Despair, almost hated her own maid for being in spirits."


message 21: by Kim (last edited Mar 04, 2016 04:07PM) (new)

Kim Suzy wrote: "Kim, thanks for all the illustrations! I'm reading The Everyman's Library and it contains a few. Interesting to see the different portrayals of people. Were there any illustrations of the factories, the work conditions or the Slackbridge meeting?"

Hi Suzy, sorry it took me so long to answer your question, it has been one of those weeks - busy that is. I haven't found any illustrations of the Slackbridge meeting, and the only ones I saw so far with the factories in them, the factories were either very dim in the background or through a window. I'm still looking though. :-)


message 22: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Winn | 364 comments I really enjoyed the slow reading pace and didn't want it to end (and forgot to check the schedule)! So thanks again to Peter for suggesting we read the beginning at the same rate as Dickens' original readers.

With the introduction of Harthouse, I was reminded of a different character, Kim. Steerforth has been reborn, older and more jaded, but still looking for another challenge to entertain himself. As I recall they're both intrigued by women before meeting them, and I agree with Peter's portrayal of Harthouse as a charming tempter. I particularly liked the way his feelings about Tom were revealed through the latter's inebriated drowsiness, when turned out of the hotel, and, as others noted, the foreboding end to the chapter in the river. This also reminded me of David Copperfield's ominous suggestion about Lil' Emily's future, when they played by the sea.


message 23: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Winn | 364 comments Tristram wrote: "Chapter 4 is dealing with „Men and Brothers“
We also learn that he has “froth and fume” in him and that he wipes his forehead exclusively from left to right and never the other way round – what is that supposed to mean, I wonder?..."


I wondered about that too, Tristram. Just an idiosyncrasy, or possibly suggesting political shifting? Slackbridge (what a name for a go-between) brought to mind the pigs in Orwell's Animal Farm, who change their stance when convenient for more power.


message 24: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Winn | 364 comments Another interesting footnote in my edition, for the description of Mrs. Sparsit going into the boardroom to receive Harthouse, "in the manner of a Roman matron going outside the city walls to treat with an invading general."

"Another reference to Coriolanus... Volumnia, Coriolanus's mother, goes to her son's tent outside Rome and pleads with him not to invade."

The only place I've seen the name Volumnia is Bleak House. But somehow I can't picture either that character, or Mrs. Sparsit, pleading :)


message 25: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 392 comments Vanessa wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Chapter 4 is dealing with „Men and Brothers“
We also learn that he has “froth and fume” in him and that he wipes his forehead exclusively from left to right and never the other wa..."


My assumption here was that this was probably a behaviour pattern of someone he know that he wanted to incorporate into one of his characters. It seemed a peculiar thing to pull from thin air. But that reminds me -- Blitzer has a habit of rubbing his forehead with his knuckles. I'm trying to picture what that looks like, and am having trouble with it. Another odd mannerism to create.

Nice interpretation of Slackbridge, Vanessa!


message 26: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Mary Lou wrote: "The townspeople who, in their passing and repassing, saw her there, regarded her as the Bank Dragon keeping watch over the treasures of the mine.”

Surely JK Rowling had this passage in mind when s..."


Yes, and then there was also Tolkien and Smaug the Magnificent. I wonder why dragons are so keen on guarding treasures. They could not even go into town and spend them, so why bother having the treasures around?


message 27: by Tristram (last edited Mar 04, 2016 08:46AM) (new)

Tristram Shandy Vanessa wrote: "The only place I've seen the name Volumnia is Bleak House. But somehow I can't picture either that character, or Mrs. Sparsit, pleading :) ."

And I always assumed the name Volumnia was just made up. Well, of course, all names are made up if you come to think of it, but I thought that Volumnia was a name made up by Dickens to create a mental image with the reader. I always pictured Volumnia Dedlock as a woman tending to chubbiness.


message 28: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Suzy wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Chapter 4 is dealing with „Men and Brothers“ and it can be summarized rather quickly because it just tells you how Stephen Blackpool is ostracized for not following suit with the p..."

Hi Suzy,

it's nice you have decided to join our discussions! As to Stephen, I don't know whether he is supposed to be a hero or a victim. For a hero, he is too passive, I would say, and too ready to bear his burdens kneeling. I suppose the person whom he promised never to join a union is Rachael because he does not seem to have any other one in his life who would care enough for him to exact any promises from him. Probably Rachael did not want Stephen to get intangled into the intricacies of industrial action, but eventually Stephen got between the two opposing forces and bears the brunt of Bounderby's anger, anyway.

I would say that Dickens was sensitive to the hardships of the lives of the working classes but, like many social reformers, he liked his poor more cap in hand and waiting to be helped rather than self-assertive and demanding. That is probably why he presents the trade unions in such a bad light - especially the go-between Slackbridge. One might call this paternalistic in Dickens, esp. when you consider his vitriolic attacks against the factory owners in Hard Times. But at least Dickens did not side with the stronger party even though he wanted the workers' interests to be taken care of by the government and not by the workers themselves.


message 29: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Mary Lou wrote: "Vanessa wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Chapter 4 is dealing with „Men and Brothers“
We also learn that he has “froth and fume” in him and that he wipes his forehead exclusively from left to right and ne..."


Thanks, Mary Lou: I had not as yet noticed that Bitzer, too, had this habit of rubbing his forehead.


message 30: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy In German, a young dog is called "Welpe" whereas English has two words for it: Is there any difference in meaning, or in association, between "whelp" and "puppy"? "Puppy", for once reminds me of Of Mice and Men, but it also sounds way nicer to me than whelp because the latter seems to imitate the yelping sound.

In German we also say "er steht unter Welpenschutz", literally "he enjoys whelp protection", when somebody is very young or rather new at his job and so you are not really supposed to criticize him for his performance. Is there a proper English equivalent having to do with whelps?

To finally return to the book: It seems as if the narrator does not want to grant "Welpenschutz" to the character he constantly refers to as the "whelp".


message 31: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy About Harthouse: Like Vanessa, I felt reminded of Steerforth by James Harthouse, and thought he might have be what Steerforth would have become if he had lived to see the day. Still, Steerforth's character seemed more ambivalent because, seen through young David's eyes, Steerforth also had his good points. Another reason why Steerforth is more complex may lie in the fact that we get background information on him - e.g. we learn that he has a mother who spoilt him badly and who might have taught him to look down on people like the Peggottys. As yet, we have not got a lot of background information concerning Harthouse - maybe Dickens denies us this information on purpose because Harthouse is supposed to be seen as a kind of develish tempter rather than as a person.


message 32: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Kim,
I really enjoyed comparing the different illustrations - all the more so since my Kindle edition has only very small illustrations, and my Penguin edition has none at all - those probably in very large size, though.

In like the illustration in post 12 because even though Mrs. Sparsit looks far too much like a nice, though a bit insipid old lady - Mrs. Nickleby comes to my mind here - Mr. Harthouse looks like the devil in human shape, and the way he leans over her reminds me of the evil snake in The Jungle Books (the movie, not the book, which I never read) who hypnotizes poor Mowgli.


message 33: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 392 comments Tristram wrote: "In German, a young dog is called "Welpe" whereas English has two words for it: Is there any difference in meaning, or in association, between "whelp" and "puppy"? "Puppy", for once reminds me of Of..."

Generally speaking, in the US we use "whelp" more as a verb than a noun. "Puppy" is the commonly used word when referring to a young dog. (There may, of course, be regional differences that I'm not aware of. Also, dog breeders may use "whelp" more among themselves, I don't know.)

I can't think of any phrase comparable to "er steht unter Welpenschutz".


message 34: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2034 comments Tristram wrote: "In German, a young dog is called "Welpe" whereas English has two words for it: Is there any difference in meaning, or in association, between "whelp" and "puppy"?."

Not really. Puppy applies only to dogs, whereas whelp can apply to other canines (wolves, etc.). Whelp is much less common today, but I don't know whether it was in Dickens's day. English is really a polyglot language, each invader of the British Isles brought their own language with them, so English has many duplicate terms which entered English from different directions (Middle English, Latin, French, German, etc.)


message 35: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Thanks, Mary Lou and Everyman, for the swift replies! At school I learnt that "puppy" was the English for "Welpe", and it was probably through 19th century literature that I came across "whelp" the first time. I just looked in an etymological dictionary, online, which told me that "puppy" originally referred to a lady's lapdog and then acquired the meaning "young dog", replacing the Middle English "whelp". The word was apparently derived from the Middle French "poupée", meaning "doll, toy"; we have "Puppe" in German, for "doll".

"Puppy" at least sounds nicer than "whelp".


message 36: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2034 comments BTW, whelp can also be used as a verb, to give birth to puppies. "My bitch whelped five puppies last night. "

(Bitch here isn't a swear word; it's the accurate term for a female canine.)


message 37: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Winn | 364 comments Mary Lou wrote: " But that reminds me -- Blitzer has a habit of rubbing his forehead with his knuckles. I'm trying to picture what that looks like, and am having trouble with it. Another odd mannerism to create."

Thanks, Mary Lou!

I was puzzled by Bitzer's knuckle habit, too. (Knucklehead came to mind, but I think that's a more modern term :) To me it almost conveys a sense of frustration or futility.


message 38: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Winn | 364 comments Tristram wrote: "Vanessa wrote: "The only place I've seen the name Volumnia is Bleak House. But somehow I can't picture either that character, or Mrs. Sparsit, pleading :) ."

And I always assumed the name Volumnia..."


I don't know if Shakespeare made the name up, or whether it was a Latin name that fell out of usage. Like you, I also pictured BH's Volumnia as heavy, and unfortunately the mental image her name (and its closeness to volume) conjured up was the stereotyped opera soprano, and the saying, 'it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings.'


message 39: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Everyman wrote: "BTW, whelp can also be used as a verb, to give birth to puppies. "My bitch whelped five puppies last night. "

(Bitch here isn't a swear word; it's the accurate term for a female canine.)"


In German we say "werfen", i.e. "to throw", when animals give birth. That does not sound very nice, now I come to think of it. There are also two different words for "eating" depending on whether a human or an animal eats.


message 40: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Vanessa wrote: "the saying, 'it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings.' "

Oh dear, the never-ending terrors of the opera! Luckily my wife does not abide opera at all ;-)


message 41: by Lagullande (new)

Lagullande | 9 comments Vanessa wrote: "Mary Lou wrote: " But that reminds me -- Blitzer has a habit of rubbing his forehead with his knuckles. I'm trying to picture what that looks like, and am having trouble with it. Another odd manner..."

Was it a habit? I only recall noticing Bitzer doing this once.

In any event, I understood it to be a form of showing respect, akin to 'tipping his hat" or "tugging his forelock".

Wiki suggests that the naval salute developed out of the knuckling of a subordinate's forehead ... "During the age of sail, ships' officers were always worried about mutiny and it therefore became custom that whenever an officer approached, the rating would prove that he was not armed.[citation needed] This was done by knuckling the forehead and later evolved into the modern Navy salute with the hand at 45 degrees palm facing in."


message 42: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy I don't know how often Bitzer does this knuckling thing but I am quite sure that he also does it in Chapter 8 or 9 of the Part II.


message 43: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 392 comments Tristram wrote: "I don't know how often Bitzer does this knuckling thing but I am quite sure that he also does it in Chapter 8 or 9 of the Part II."

I remember it being mentioned on at least two different occasions, possibly three. Habit may be strong... how about a mannerism?


message 44: by Lagullande (new)

Lagullande | 9 comments Mary Lou wrote: " how about a mannerism?"

Or just good manners, if the idea of it showing respect is correct.

Do any of you with better observation skills than me recall to whom he was making this gesture?


message 45: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2034 comments Mary Lou wrote: "Tristram wrote: "I don't know how often Bitzer does this knuckling thing but I am quite sure that he also does it in Chapter 8 or 9 of the Part II."."

Ain't the search function on a Gutenberg copy of Hard Times wonderful?

Book 1 Chapter 2:
Bitzer, after rapidly blinking at Thomas Gradgrind with both eyes at once, and so catching the light upon his quivering ends of lashes that they looked like the antennæ of busy insects, put his knuckles to his freckled forehead, and sat down again.

Book 1 chapter 5:
Bitzer picked up his cap, which the concussion had knocked off; and backing, and knuckling his forehead, pleaded that it was an accident.

And later, same chapter
The light porter placed the tea-tray on it, knuckling his forehead as a form of homage.

Book 2 Chapter 1:
Mrs. Sparsit’s tea was just set for her on a pert little table, with its tripod of legs in an attitude, which she insinuated after office-hours, into the company of the stern, leathern-topped, long board-table that bestrode the middle of the room. The light porter placed the tea-tray on it, knuckling his forehead as a form of homage.

Same chapter:
Bitzer knuckled his forehead again, and again begged pardon.

And still later, same chapter
‘Thank you, ma’am,’ said Bitzer, knuckling his forehead again, in return for the favour of Mrs. Sparsit’s improving conversation. ‘Would you wish a little more hot water, ma’am, or is there anything else that I could fetch you?’


Book 2, Chapter 8
‘Very well. And this young man, Bitzer, you saw him too on the same occasion?’ Mr. Harthouse inclined his head in assent, and Bitzer knuckled his forehead.

And later in the same chapter
Bitzer knuckled his forehead again, in a sneaking manner, and seemed at once particularly impressed and depressed by the instance last given of Mr. Bounderby’s moral abstinence.

That's 8 times in just the chapters we've read so far. I think that qualifies as a either a mannerism or a habit, you decide which.


message 46: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 392 comments Nine times! Nicely done, Everyman! So it's "a form of homage" apparently. But what does it look like?? I googled it and found something saying it was like a salute, so I'm picturing Benny Hill's salute - palm out. Do you suppose that's what Dickens is describing?


message 47: by Lagullande (new)

Lagullande | 9 comments Everyman wrote: "Mary Lou wrote: "Tristram wrote: "I don't know how often Bitzer does this knuckling thing but I am quite sure that he also does it in Chapter 8 or 9 of the Part II."."

Ain't the search function on..."


Yikes, what was I thinking about when I was reading this chapter?? Clearly not concentrating on the book, that's for sure.


message 48: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Winn | 364 comments Thanks for the naval history on knuckling evolving into the salute, Lagullande, and to Everyman for tracking Bitzer's use of it. I had pictured a closed fist, but Benny Hill's palm out would better fit paying homage, Mary Lou. Interesting that in the last instance, he does it in a sneaking manner. There's something underhand about it (bad pun :).


message 49: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 392 comments Vanessa wrote: " There's something underhand about it (bad pun :). "

I've got to hand it to you... that was a bad pun. :-P


message 50: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Bad puns? Is there such a thing as a bad pun? I don't know whether I have ever posted this link before - but that man is absolutely right:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gu5g8...


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