In the novel ‘Hard Times’, Mrs Sparsit is the housekeeper for the very outspoken Mr Bounderby, who is always talking about how self made he is although throughout the book he story alters a bit to fit the mood of the particular chapter. Mrs Sparsit is not portrayed, as you would expect a housekeeper to be portrayed. The connotations of her job have no similarities to her personality. Mrs Sparsit herself has had trouble in the past, although she had the status of an upper class female she lost her status in society due to debts her husband left her with.
Mrs Sparsit married Mr Sparsit but when he got addicted to gambling he got into so much debt that he ended up passing away with them over his head. In Book 1 we are introduced to Mrs Sparsit as Bounderby’s housekeeper but then she starts to make many hints that she has a particular spot for Bounderby that she cannot talk about.
She is introduced as this ‘elderly lady that presided over his establishment’. Mrs Sparsit speaks of her hardship to Bounderby in the hope that he will understand because he speaks about being so hard done by in the past by his mother.
Mrs Sparsit can relate to Bounderby and that’s why she is so drawn to him in the novel, also because they are the same age she feels even closer to him. Mrs Sparsit is quite insignificant in the first Book but she placed there because she objects so much to Bounderby’s marriage proposal to Louisa.
We get many clues that Mrs Sparsit that Mrs Sparsit is fond of Mr Bounderby in more ways than one and we pick up on this because of her reaction to the marriage. In book 1 Mrs Sparsit is the fuel that keeps Bounderby’s already huge ego going.
Due to all the debts that she was left with Mrs Sparsit is financially dependent on Bounderby, and in her opinion she is his number one woman because she does all the womanly duties around the house. Also Bounderby depends on her for her womanly perspective on female issues. In Book 2, Mrs Sparsit becomes more significant and she is more constant through out the second book. She plays a more active role because she is sent to live in the bank because of the marriage and Mrs Sparsit is quite publicly annoyed so she decides that she is going to call Louisa by her first name and not her marriage name.
She has so many objections against this marriage because she can see Louisa being a threat to her number one place in Bounderby’s household, also she knows that she could be a better wife than Louisa therefore disagrees with this marriage but she will never get to show Bounderby what a wife she could be because of Louisa. Mrs Sparsit is so desperate to separate Bounderby and Louisa that she drives a wedge between them by commenting on every little detail about Louisa.
In Book 2 Mrs Sparsit is sent to live in the bank Dickens’ relights the whole fact vs. fancy battle that takes place everywhere in the novel, because he says ‘Mrs Sparsit considered herself, in some sort, the Bank fairy’ then goes on to say ‘Townspeople who in their passing and repassing saw her there, regarded her as the Bank dragon’. Dickens’ has used these examples to imply Mrs Sparsit personality of a spy who watches over Bounderby’s household like a dragon would a layer.
In this particular part of the novel Mrs Sparsit displays her weakness for spying as she goes and spies on Louisa and Harthouse, she tries to pick up as much information as she can to go back and tell Bounderby of Louisa’s cheating ways. Harthouse and Mrs Sparsit meet in the bank where she now lives, Harthouse makes spiteful comments to Mrs Sparsit in the hope that she will be more annoyed at Louisa coming in to Bounderby’s household and snatching her place away, so it ends up that Louisa and Bounderby get divorced for Harthouse to marry Louisa.
Therefore he says to her ‘I presume, that Mr Bounderby the banker does not reside in the edifice which I have the honour of offering this explanation? ‘ It seems that Mrs Sparsit was placed in this particular part of the novel because she persistently follows Louisa and Harthouse that she finally ends up pushing Louisa to tell her father how unhappy she is with the marriage. Mrs Sparsit has been given the job of spying on people in the novel because she thinks that nobody would suspect an old housekeeper to be the town’s gossiper, so she uses that to her advantage.
Dickens has portrayed Mrs Sparsit in this particular way because he wanted Mrs Sparsit to see everybody miserable, as they had done when she was left with her husband’s debt. So by her spying and interfering in Louisa’s marriage and her relationship with Harthouse it is her opportunity to get Bounderby and be happy for once in her life but it does not work out like that for her.