Bleak House by Charles Dickens: Chapter 3 A Progress

Analysis of Chapter 3 A Progress

From Chapter 3, it was changed from god-like 3rd person narrator to first person narrator. The narrator is a girl named Esther Summerson. She is perfect to be the narrator as she had “a silent way of noticing what passed before her”. So we readers walk as she walk and look as she look, through her attentive eyes.”

This is how she describes Mr Kenge: “When I had complied, he said ‘Ah‘ and afterwards ‘Yes!’ And then, taking off his eye-glassed, and folding them in a red case, and leaning back in his arm-chair, turning the case about in his two hands he gave my godmother a nod. ” She don’t need to tell us what kind of personality of Mr Kenge or how she thought of him. Those movements are sufficient enough to betray his character that is self-conscious, love comfort and enjoy hearing his own voice.

She was raised by her Godmother called Miss Barbary. This Miss Barbary never smile, very grave and strict to Esther. Our hearts break when we see her telling Esther,”It would have been far better, little Esther, that you had had no birthday; that you had never been born” (so mean!) Obviously something has happen between Miss Barbary and Esther’s mother, and this is the reason that she is unhappy and cold to Esther.

Miss Barbary’s sickness and death left Esther nothing, not even a smile–“To the very last, and even afterwards, her frown reminded unsoftened”. Esther is taken away from Windsor, the place she lived with Miss Barbary, to Greenleaf in Reading, where she spent 6 years as governor trained by Miss Donny, before she is removed to White Horse Celler in London. There she meets Miss Ada Clare (age 17) and Richard Carstone from Winchester (age 19).  The boy and the girl are distance cousin and Esther is stationed as Miss Ada’s accompany.

They are told they will live in Bleak House in Hertfordshire as the court’s arrangement. But before that, they will stop at Mrs. Jellyby’s place which will be mentioned in the next Chapter.

I particularly love the following sentence:

“Then I went on, thinking, thinking, thinking; and the fire went on, burning, burning, burning” I think Dickens can be a good R&B songs-writer if he lives in our age.


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