Bleak House By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Chapter 40 - National and Domestic

Toward the end of the elections, the guests and distant relatives of Sir Leicester arrive at Chesney Wold, where Mrs. Rouncewell (the housekeeper) has been preparing for them. Although Volumnia is sure that the election has gone Sir Leicester's way, Mr. Tulkinghorn dispels that illusion, announcing that the vote heavily favored the party of Mr. Rouncewell and his son. Tulkinghorn then does something to try to disconcert Lady Dedlock; without using names, he tells Sir Leicester the story of Esther, Captain Hawdon, and Lady Dedlock. Lady Dedlock shows no signs of being more than casually interested in this narrative.


Summary

Toward the end of the elections, the guests and distant relatives of Sir Leicester arrive at Chesney Wold, where Mrs. Rouncewell (the housekeeper) has been preparing for them. Although Volumnia is sure that the election has gone Sir Leicester's way, Mr. Tulkinghorn dispels that illusion, announcing that the vote heavily favored the party of Mr. Rouncewell and his son. Tulkinghorn then does something to try to disconcert Lady Dedlock; without using names, he tells Sir Leicester the story of Esther, Captain Hawdon, and Lady Dedlock. Lady Dedlock shows no signs of being more than casually interested in this narrative.

Analysis

In its descriptions of the changing tones and moods of the Dedlock mansion as the day moves toward night, this chapter shows Dickens as a master of pictorial art. The satire of British party politics is not closely related to either the plot or the main themes, but it is rich and amusing. In his verbal torture of Lady Dedlock, Tulkinghorn's viciousness continues to manifest itself. The lady's self-control raises her in the reader's esteem.

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