Bleak House is one of Dickenís longest and most complex novels. It contains many different and divergent storylines that intertwine as characters meet by chance or fate. In that sense it is impossible to summarise, though key themes run through it: the foremost of these being the absurdity of legal proceedings that seem to have no purpose but to line the pockets of lawyers. The case of ĎJardyce and Jarndyceí is the key example here. The wards of court in the case are the children Richard Carstone and Ada Clare who live with their relative, the philanthropic John Jarndyce. Initially the novel concerns their love for each other. The novelís heroine is Esther Summerson, an orphan, who also goes to live with Jarndyce, and narrates much of the novel. Other strands of the book concern Sir Leicester Dedlock and his beautiful wife who hides a shocking secret about an illegitimate child and a long lost love. The machinations of her search for the latter bring her to the penniless and illiterate Jo and a grave where she will later die in terrible circumstances brought about by the pursuit of her old lover. The mystery of the death of old lawyer Tulkinghorn brings us another strand with the detective Bucket intervening in one of the novelís many highlights. Esther and John Jarndyceís relationship is at the heart of the later stages of the book, and his finally act of generosity in giving her up to the young doctor Woodcourt who she loves. In between there are numerous interesting or plain hilarious minor characters such as the ridiculous Mrs Jellyby whose endless philanthropy have left her utterly unconcerned about her family and Harold Skimpole who is a lazy and selfish man looked after by othersí generosity and his mimicry of childish irresponsibility. In its time the novel was seen as poorly constructed despite its host of interesting characters although later critics have generally seen it as one of his very finest works despite its occasional verbosity.