The Gradgrind Household.
Thomas Gradgrind: The notorious school board Superintendent, dedicated to the pursuit of profitable enterprise. His name is now used generically to refer to someone who is hard and only concerned with cold facts and numbers. He is an intense follower of Utilitarian ideas. He soon sees the error of these beliefs however, when his children’s lives fall into disarray..
Mrs. Gradgrind: Wife of Thomas Gradgrind, Mrs. Gradgrind is an invalid who constantly complains. Appears to lack empathy for her children.
Thomas Gradgrind, Jr. (Tom): Eldest son of Thomas and Mrs Gradgrind and generally known by the name Tom. Tom is an apprentice at Bounderby’s bank, but his excessive gambling and spending habits lead him to rob it and implicate Stephen as the suspect.
Louisa Gradgrind: The eldest daughter of Thomas and Mrs Gradgrind.
Jane Gradgrind: Youngest daughter of Thomas and Mrs. Gradgrind. Largely raised by Sissy, she avoids some of the emotional turmoil that have affected her brother, Tom and sister, Louisa from the harsh upbringing from their father.
Cecilia (Sissy) Jupe: A circus girl of Sleary’s circus, as well as a student of Thomas Gradgrind’s very strict classroom. Sissy has her own set of values and beliefs which make her seem unintelligent in the Gradgrind household. At the end of the novel, when the Gradgrinds’ philosophy of religiously adhering solely to facts breaks down, Sissy is the character who teaches them how to live.
Other Main Characters.
Josiah Bounderby: Business associate of Thomas Gradgrind. A wealthy and powerful banker and factory owner in Coketown, Bounderby is part of the new class of self-made, rich industrialists in the Victorian Era.
James Harthouse: Upper-class gentleman, who attempts to woo Louisa Gradgrind.
Stephen Blackpool: A worker at one of Bounderby’s mills. He has a drunken wife who no longer lives with him but who appears from time to time. He forms a close bond with Rachael, a co-worker, whom he wishes to marry. After a dispute with Bounderby, he is dismissed from his work at the Coketown mills and, shunned by his former fellow workers, is forced to look for work elsewhere. While absent from Coketown, he is wrongly accused of robbing Bounderby’s bank. On his way back to vindicate himself, he falls down a mine-shaft. He is rescued but dies of his injuries.