Bleak House By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Chapter 42 - In Mr. Tulkinghorn's Chambers

Returning to London, Tulkinghorn meets Snagsby; the latter complains of being harassed by Lady Dedlock's former servant Hortense. She is frantic to find Tulkinghorn. When she does locate him, she protests bitterly at having been used by him (she now sees that she was tricked into giving him information when, dressed as Lady Dedlock, she was presented to little Jo). She demands that the lawyer get her a new position — otherwise she will hound him "for ever" if necessary. He tells her he will have her imprisoned if she visits either him or Snagsby once more. Undaunted, she leaves. The lawyer enjoys a bottle of old wine, and now and then "as he throws his head back in the chair," he catches sight of a "pertinacious Roman pointing from the ceiling."


Summary

Returning to London, Tulkinghorn meets Snagsby; the latter complains of being harassed by Lady Dedlock's former servant Hortense. She is frantic to find Tulkinghorn. When she does locate him, she protests bitterly at having been used by him (she now sees that she was tricked into giving him information when, dressed as Lady Dedlock, she was presented to little Jo). She demands that the lawyer get her a new position — otherwise she will hound him "for ever" if necessary. He tells her he will have her imprisoned if she visits either him or Snagsby once more. Undaunted, she leaves. The lawyer enjoys a bottle of old wine, and now and then "as he throws his head back in the chair," he catches sight of a "pertinacious Roman pointing from the ceiling."

Analysis

Tulkinghorn's bitter encounter with Hortense makes the reader sense that "more will come" of this incident. This impression is reinforced by Dickens' use of foreshadowing. At the very end of the preceding chapter, Tulkinghorn is pictured complacent and then asleep — yet, somehow, looking very old and, in fact, not far from death. The present chapter closes with a Tulkinghorn who, though again complacent, catches sight of an arrow-wielding Roman painted on the ceiling.

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