'You Have Seen Me Once Before, Young Lady,'
Said Rachael

'You Have Seen Me Once Before, Young Lady,' Said Rachael" by Harry French. Wood engraving. 1870s. 13.3 cm wide x 9.5 cm high. Illustration for Dickens's Hard Times for These Times in the British Household Edition. Not a direct quotation, p. 112. 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..]

Plate 16 serves to connect the two lines of the narrative-pictorial plot through the figure of Rachel, and to subtly remind the reader of the gambit involving Tom (right rear) and the bank robbery, of which Stephen stands falsely accused. Both Gradgrind and Louisa have sufficiently recovered their composure to be in the same room as Bounderby, seated right, but effectively cut off from his estranged wife and quondam father-in-law by the figure of Rachel, recognizable from her bonnet and shawl in Plate 8, elements that are repeated to provided visual continuity in Plate 17. This group plate is only the third such composition in the sequence thus far; it amounts to a tableau vivant rather than a character study as it juxtaposes all figures in the scene at a precise moment, but fails to account for Sissy Jupe, who is also present in the text. Tom, obviously feeling alienated by his guilt, "remained standing in the obscurest part of the room, near the door" (III: 4); in the plate, he is detached from the rest of the group, anxiously gnawing his cane.


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Last modified 17 April 2002