Bleak House: “National and Domestic”

Chapter 40: “National and Domestic”

Summary: Sir Leicester and Lady Dedlock are back in Chesney Wold, as are all of the money-seeking cousins. There’s some stuff about those Doodles and Coodles. Then Tulkinghorn comes for a visit and tells a story about a fine lady who had an affair with a wild military captain and had a secret child. Lady Dedlock was upset.

Reaction: Oh, that Tulkinghorn–he’s after something to show his cards like that to Lady Dedlock. The plot thickens, as Sherlock Holmes says. And all that Doodle/Coodle stuff–it definitely has to do with Sir Leicester and his view of the nation’s politics, and Dickens definitely doesn’t have a high opinion of this view, but beyond that I have no idea what they’re talking about when that starts up.

Prediction: I predict that Tulkinghorn wants something from Lady Dedlock. I don’t know what, but he’s let her know that he’s found her out, so now she has to go to him to find out what it will take to keep this a secret.

Why This Book Is a Classic: Classic class system politics. Sure, nowadays it’s still pretty much the rich in office, but all of our political people have to pretend they are just like the common people. Then, though, at least one political party was in power simply because they were rich and privileged.

Our Lesson: The only way to get on Sir Leicester’s good side is to agree with whatever he says or to be richer and more influential than he is. He’s not very smart, though, so really you can just pretend.

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