Bleak House: “A Struggle”

Chapter 38: “A Struggle”

Summary: Esther is all better (except her face). She goes to visit Caddie and then they stop by Guppy’s to attend to unfinished business. As soon as Guppy sees her new face he is adamant to officially withdraw his former proposal and officially pronounce it never offered in the first place, and Esther is only too happy to oblige. Then she has him promise not to look into her past anymore.

Reaction: This only affirms my position that Guppy is, just as his name implies, slimy scum. And I am so proud of Esther–she has gotten so smart and confident. She is not the least embarrassed by his embarrassing behavior. I never thought I would like her character this much.

Prediction: I’m torn whether Guppy will continue his investigation or not. He seems very official and lawyerly, so I think a sworn statement will probably close the case for him. I think though, that he’s gotten the ball rolling enough for someone else, namely, Tulkinhorn, to take it up and do more damage with it.

Why This Book Is a Classic: We see marriage proposals treated as business transactions. Sure, that sort of thing still happens today, but not to the same degree. In this time period every proposal was pretty much some sort of business transaction–even Caddie and Prince had to make theirs into one to appease their parents, even though they’d planned to run away together if they had to.

Our Lesson: If you want to make someone stop trying to propose to you and stop stalking you around town, then just get a disfiguring illness, and hopefully they’ll go away. It will at least show you who your true friends are.


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