Bleak House

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.

Table of contents
In Chancery
In Fashion
A Progress
Telescopic Philanthropy
A Morning Adventure
Quite at Home
The Ghost’s Walk
Covering a Multitude of Sins
Signs and Tokens
The Law-Writer
Our Dear Brother
On the Watch
Esther’s Narrative
Bell Yard
Esther’s Narrative
Lady Dedlock
Moving On
A New Lodger
The Smallweed Family
Mr Bucket
Esther’s Narrative
An Appeal Case
Mrs Snagsby Sees It All
More Old Soldiers than One
The Ironmaster
The Young Man
Esther’s Narrative
Nurse and Patient
The Appointed Time
A Turn of the Screw
Esther’s Narrative
Chesney Wold
Jarndyce and Jarndyce
A Struggle
Attorney and Client
National and Domestic
In Mr Tulkinghorn’s Room
In Mr Tulkinghorn’s Chambers
Esther’s Narrative
The Letter and the Answer
In Trust
Stop Him!
Jo’s Will
Closing in
Dutiful Friendship
Esther’s Narrative
The Track
Springing a Mine
Esther’s Narrative
A Wintry Day and Night
Esther’s Narrative
A Discovery
Another Discovery
Steel and Iron
Esther’s Narrative
Beginning the World
Down in Lincolnshire
The Close of Esther’s Narrative

  By PanEris using Melati.

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