Bleak House: “Lady Dedlock”

Chapter 18: Lady Dedlock

Summary: Richard slides into his new law studies and actually works hard at trying to understand the Jarndyce case (probably because he wants his money). Speaking of money, he spends way too much of it. Then Esther, Ada, and Jarndyce, accompanied by Skimpole, go and visit Boythorn and hear all about how much he hates his neighbor Sir Leicester. Esther and co. run into Lady Dedlock (My Lady) and Esther feels like she knows her somehow, but Lady Dedlock ignores her.

Reaction: I really can’t stand Skimpole. They keep saying he’s a child and that’s why he has to mooch off rich people and pretend his large family doesn’t exist, but he doesn’t speak like a child. He talks pretty eloquently (about stupid stuff), so he comes off looking like a big lazy jerk, and I don’t like him. I do like how Lady Dedlock is not “My Lady” in these chapters because Esther is telling them–another example of quality voice differences between types of chapters/characters.

Prediction: Lady Dedlock has to be Esther’s mom. There’d been some kind of affair, which is why Esther’s mom had been such a disgrace. It’s possible, I guess that My Lady’s estranged sister was the mother, but that doesn’t seem as interesting.

Why This Book Is a Classic: Mysterious pasts dealing with bastard children. We don’t care too much about bastard children anymore (except on shows like Maury), but they are central to plot twists in so many classics.

Our Lesson: If anyone named Skimpole comes near you (or anyone claiming to be an adult child) run away as fast as you can. I wouldn’t be surprised if he commits a murder and claims it wasn’t his fault because he’s just a child and doesn’t know any better.


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