Bleak House - Published in monthly parts Mar 1852 - Sep 1853
Read it online | Shop for the Book | Shop for the Video | Illustrations
Dickens' ninth novel, illustrated by Phiz, was intended to illustrate the evils caused by long, drawn-out suits in the Courts of Chancery. Dickens had observed the inner workings of the courts as a reporter in his youth and observed that "The one great principle of the English law is to make business for itself." Bleak House is often considered Dickens' finest work although not his most popular.
Plot (contains spoilers)The case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, in the High Court of Chancery, has been going on for a long time. The current Jarndyce, John, owner of Bleak House, has little hope of gaining anything from it. On her aunt's death
As the story unfolds it is revealed that Esther is the illegitimate daughter of Captain Hawdon and Lady Dedlock. When the Dedlock's lawyer, Tulkinghorn learns of this, and tries to profit by the information, he is murdered by Lady Dedlock's former maid. Lady Dedlock flees and later dies at the gates of the cemetery where Hawdon lies buried.
John Jarndyce has fallen in love with Esther and asked her to marry him. She consents out of respect for Jarndyce but during the engagement she falls in love with Allan Woodcourt. When Jarndyce learns of her feelings for Allan he releases her from the engagement and she marries Woodcourt. The chancery case comes to a close with court costs eating up all of the estate. Carstone, who has married Ada, dies in despair.
| Principal Characters:
Character descriptions contain spoilers
Sir Leicester Dedlock
Caroline (Caddy) Jellyby
Charlotte (Charley) Neckett
Tony Jobling (Weevle)
Jo, the Crossing Sweeper
Nemo (Capt Hawdon)
| Bleak House Links:|
The Dickens Page
The Victorian Web
Wikipedia - Bleak House
PBS - Bleak House
Soft Soaping Dickens: Andrew Davies, BBC-1 and 'Bleak House' - Robert Giddings examines the popular belief that were Dickens alive today he would be writing soap operas for television