Bleak House: 43 “Esther’s Narrative”

Chapter 43: “Esther’s Narrative”

Summary: Esther, Ada, and Jarndyce visit Skimpole’s decrepit house and see his family of daughters just like him. (His poor wife). Then Sir Leicester visit Bleak House and tells Jarndyce he is welcome any time. Esther feels now is the time to tell Mr. J about her parentage. We learn that Lady Dedlock’s sister used to be Boythorn’s wife until Esther came to be. Mr. J reassures her that she shouldn’t feel guilty about where she comes from.

Reaction: That Mr. J is a really decent guy. Somehow he puts up with all those Skimpoles and only ever seems amused at their craziness. And the first thing he does–and the only thing he does that whole night–is to reassure Esther and bring her spirits up. Action on that issue can wait.

Prediction: I’m sure Mr. J will have some good advice for Esther. And this advice will move the plot along as well.

Why This Book Is a Classic: I was just admiring today how Dickens is able to build up his characters so that you form an opinion of them without knowing why and then, as the story goes on, you learn why you should or shouldn’t like someone. I was thinking of Richard in particular. I never really liked him, and now we have a good reason not to like him. He’s not a bad person necessarily, but he’s not on the “good” side either.

Our Lesson: Don’t marry someone with the last name of Skimpole unless you’re looking for a good way to ruin your life.


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