Bleak House by Charles Dickens: Chapter 1 Chancery

Analysis of Chapter I Chancery

The first chapter has outlined the background of the story.

Where: Lincoln’s Inn Hall

When: one afternoon in November after Michaelmas Term

Weather: Weather is very important, it sets the tone of a story. Here the weather is rainy, foggy, cloudy and muddy,typical and the worst of England weather.

If Dickens live till today, he would be a very good director of the film. The description of fog is so vivid and you would suspect there is some sort of life and power in fog. You feel it—it is so damn real!

Fog EVERWHERE, like an evil power, it gains control of river—marshes, boat on the river, people on the boat, bridge, people on the bridge, shops beyond the river, and the grant Lincoln’s Hall which is the heart of Fog.

The way Dickens pictured Lincoln’s Hall brings to my attention. He mentioned the Hall in the 1st paragraph, then talk of something else; He came back to the Hall in 6th paragraph, jumping around with people in the Hall, then once again, brought up Lincoln’s Hall in 11th paragraph before telling us what’s going on in the Hall.

In paragraph 6, the Lord Chancellor look at the lantern for the first time, “see nothing but fog”; and he look at the lantern for the second time, found “no light in it”.

This pattern of repetition is not random. Each time he brought us closer to the inside of the Hall and strengthen our perception of the Hall—it is big (echoing) and dark (owlish). And we will know there is something evil going on in the Hall and we want to know more.

He rounded up the first chapter with brief introduction of case Jarndyce & Jarndyce (it would be good if you have a breif understanding of English Common Law). He merely mentioned there are one boy and one girl, and a cousin comes from nowhere. Dickens successfully boost up our curiosity and we just can’t wait to turn the pages!


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