Bleak House by Charles Dickens: Chapter 7 The Ghost’s Walk

Analysis of Chapter 7 The Ghost’s Walk

“While Esther sleeps, and while Esther wakes, it is still wet weather down at the place in Lincolnshire. The rain is ever falling, drip, drip,drip, by day and night, upon the broad flagged terrace-pavement.”

The opening of Chapter 7 brings us back to Chesney Wold, the “place in Lincolnshire” of the Deadlocks. Remember in Chapter 2 (P.9), it has mentioned the rain drops on the roof are sounded as “Ghost’s Walk”. This chapter is devote to this ” Ghost’s Walk”–it was expanded into a deeper mystery, a secret, a story within the story, all point to Mrs. Deadlock. I wonder why Dickens suddenly jump from Esther’s narrative to Chesney Wold. My guess is, there is some connection with Esther and Deadlocks and Dickens saw the need to insert this chapter before Esther starts her new life in Bleak House.

There is Mrs Rouncewell, in charge of the house and its secret, her grandson Watts, her maid Rosa, and two visitors. One of the visitor, Mr. Guppy might be an important character judged from his strange reaction of seeing Mrs. Deadlock’s portrait.

Dickens has created a pattern of mentioning Rosa who supposed to be a minor character.

He mentioned–

First, “Rosa is shyer than before.” after she was introduced t0 Watt.

Second, “Rosa is shyer than ever.” after she announced the appearance of two visitors.

Third, “Rosa is shyer than ever.” when she leaded the group to see the rooms.

Forth, “Rosa is shyer than ever.” being asked for the story of Ghost’s Walk.

Fifth, “Half frighten and half shy.” after she and Watt heard the Ghost story.

Not sure why Dickens applied this way of repetition but I find it very cute–it shows the development of affection between young woman and young man. But it might have different meaning which I am not sure at this stage.





Bleak House by Charles Dickens: Chapter 6 Quite at Home

Analysis of Chapter 6 Quite at Home

Bleak House finally! Here brings out two impressive characters: Mr. Jarndyce who I like a lot; and Mr. Skimpole that I detest much.

Mr. Jarndyce and the East Wind:

Every time Mr. J comes across something that are unfavorable or disappointing, he will brings up the subject of wind, blaming the poor East wind for the bad luck. I have done some research and obviously East wind is generally bad, accompanied with rains and coldness.

But there are deeper meaning in Bleak House. The East wind is a blurry substitution of evils that Mr. J reluctant to admit. We shouldn’t forget the 1st paragraph of Chapter 2–Mr. J is a “sleeping Beauty ” or “Rip Van Winkles” that refuses to face the reality, the reality that consist of good and evil. His attitude to Mrs. Jellyby and Mr. Skimpole reflects the same tendency of avoiding direct criticism and conflicts. Mr. J is a good person but he might need a bit more bravery to face the truth of human nature?

Though Mr. J never admits his discomfort, Esther understands the deeper meaning of East wind–“this caprice about the wind was a fiction;and that he used the pretence to account for any disappointment he could not conceal, rather than he would blame the real cause of it.” There is unspoken mutual understanding between Esther and Mr. J; though Esther sees through Mr.J’s psychological weakness, she never force him to face the reality as this may destroy his inner peace.Esther wants him to be happy.

Besides that, we can see Dickens’ talent in story telling from building characters like Mr. J. The harder the characters try to hide something from us, the eager we want to know the truth. This is the beauty of mystery–the readers were driven by unbearable curiosity and will never give up the story until we figure out the truth.

Mr. Skimpole and his naivety:

Look at some of his speech–

“Possession is nothing to me.”

“I am a child, you know! You are designing people compared with me.”

“You know the world…and I know nothing of it…the base word of money should never be breathed near it!”

“You see me utterly incapable of helping myself, and entirely in your hands! I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies!”

I wonder how those good people can stand this kind of vague talks. His name “Skimpole” sounds like “Simple”. But instead of simple, this man is as skim as a pole, as mean as a dry thin pole, not an ounce of goodness and usefulness in him. He is a pest, who lives happily by sucking other people’s blood. Worse thing is, he is not an innocent pest, he is a calculated, two-faced, evil spirited pest. He talks about freedom, poem and beauty but these are merely excuse for his laziness; he laughs at other people’s diligence and hard work without learning one cents by himself; he is already middle aged but shameless playing innocence by avoiding responsibility; he never feel gratitude of other people’s kindness because he is using them to achieve his greedy demand. Shame, shame!

From my experience, it is better to judge a person from what he does than what he say. Mr. Skimpole represents those people who would do everything to justify their ugly intention. That’s why Mr. Skimpole looks so real to us.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens: Chapter 5 A Morning Adventure

Analysis of Chapter 5 A Morning Adventure

“Here’s the old lady again!”

Yes the old lady who stopped the wards outside the court appears again (I have the feeling that she will come up again and again). She leads the “Wards” and Miss. Jellyby to her house. Half frighten, half curious, the young people follow the old lady to her lodging.

It is a unattractive building with 4 floors which sits close to Court of Chancery. The ground floor is a shop run by the landlord called Mr. Krook who live at the 1st floor. The 2nd floor lives a law writer and the top floor is occupied by the old lady.

The shop is a singular one as it collects trivial ends and bits related to the court–“Old prints from the books of chancellors and barristers” and “work bags with ‘containing documents'” for example. There are lots of buying but it is highly doubtful if there are any sales. So far we don’t know for what reason Mr. Krook has particular interest in Chancery court and we can’t rely on old lady’s explanation that he is mad. People call the shop Court of Chancery and Mr. Krook was referred as Lord Chancellor. Mr. K ‘s shop mirrors the uselessness of Chancery and itself is a gloomy residual of Chancery.

Now let us leave a moment to Mr. K and his furious cat Lady Jane. We are now in the old lady’s room. Bare, dry and cold, the room resembles not a home but a prison cell. It offers the old lady no comfort except a “a glimpse of Lincoln’s Inn Hall”. The old lady keeps some birds in the cages, intend to set them free after her judgment was settled. But the birds, like the old lady and other wards related to the case, some have dead, some dying and the rest just have lean hope of being set free. The old lady keeps murmuring “Youth”,”Hope” and “Beauty”–these are very important key words hovering through the whole story.

In this chapter, one name was mentioned–Tom Jarndyce. I am not sure if this Tom is a link of the mystery case, so I just put a mental note for the time being.



Bleak House by Charles Dickens: Chapter 4 Telescopic Philanthropy

Analysis of Chapter 4 Telescopic Philanthropy

Now, they are stop by  Mrs. Jellyby’s place.

“Jellyby”–it sounds like “Jelly Bean”. I am not sure if it is a pun but it turns the serious lady into a funny and ridiculous character. The ridiculousness is strengthen by the description of the messy and neglected state of her household.

The Philanthropy of Mrs. Jellyby is a kind of hypocrisy without a doubt. Actually the word “Philanthropy ” is almost equal to “Hypocrisy” nowadays. No one like to be called a philanthropist.

But Dickens didn’t say that. What he has done is drawing a whole picture and let the reader to decide and judge.

1, The miserable and neglected condition of the house–eg.”the curtain to my window was fastened up with a fork”; “stair-carpets…were so torn as to be absolute traps”;

2, Quality of food is low–“we had a fine cod-fish, a piece of roast beef, a dish of cutlets, and a pudding; an excellent dinner, if it had had any cooking to speak of, but it was almost raw.”

3, Kids are not attended or cared, generally ignored or neglected like a whole bunch of mice. They suffer from hunger and cold–“Peepy ..was so cold that his teeth were chattering as if he had cut them all.”

4, Husband, ie the Mr. Jellyby lives under the shadow of his wife, is undervalued and imposed in the household more like a piece of old furniture. He is “merged in the more shinny qualities of his wife” by Mr. Kenge and a “Nonentity” by Richard.

5, Miss Jellyby is employed as a tool, a mean, a worker than Mrs. Jellyby’s daughter. She has grown up without love and it is not strange that she is moody and ill-tempered. The uselessness of Africa business is confirmed by her speech of “I wish Africa was dead.” and “It was as bad as public house.”.

6, Mr.Quale as Mrs.Jellyby’s friend and supporter, is even more disgusted than Mrs. Jellyby herself. I think he flatters Mrs J because he wants to get some benefit from the Africa business and Mrs J needs him as a proof of her high value, just as the growing number of letters are proof of her popularity and selflessness. The admirers, are like the followers in today’s social media and letters are the “Likes” poster wish to receive. It is a mini Vanity Fair.

7,Esther, as the opposite of these people are naturally adored and loved because she is “unpretending”. Her unpretending nature reflects the pretending of Mrs J,  like the magic mirror reflect the ugliness of the Queen.