Bleak House By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Chapter 43 - Esther's Narrative

For fear of increasing her mother's peril, Esther refrains from writing to her or trying to see her. Worried about Skimpole's influence on Richard, she and Ada discuss that situation with Mr. Jarndyce. Jarndyce says that in order to understand Skimpole better, the three of them should visit the "infant" in his home. This home, where Skimpole lives with this sickly wife and three daughters, is a dirty, dingy, dilapidated place. Mr. Jarndyce asks Skimpole to refrain from allowing Richard to give him any money or to buy anything for him. Skimpole introduces his daughters, who are much like their father, and he then accompanies Esther, Ada, and Mr. Jarndyce to Bleak House. They are there only a short time before Sir Leicester pays an unexpected visit. He has come to assure both Skimpole and Mr. Jarndyce that they are always welcome at the Dedlock mansion. Sir Leicester has reason to believe that Skimpole, not long ago, while examining some of the Dedlock family portraits, was inadvertently made to feel unwelcome. Esther, afraid that the subject of the family portraits might lead to some remark that might betray her mother, is greatly relieved when Sir Leicester leaves. Afterward, she talks in private with her guardian and tells him what she knows about her mother. In turn, she learns from Mr. Jarndyce that Boythorn was once in love with Lady Dedlock's sister, Miss Barbary, the woman who raised Esther. Miss Barbary broke her engagement in order to raise Esther.


Summary

For fear of increasing her mother's peril, Esther refrains from writing to her or trying to see her. Worried about Skimpole's influence on Richard, she and Ada discuss that situation with Mr. Jarndyce. Jarndyce says that in order to understand Skimpole better, the three of them should visit the "infant" in his home. This home, where Skimpole lives with this sickly wife and three daughters, is a dirty, dingy, dilapidated place. Mr. Jarndyce asks Skimpole to refrain from allowing Richard to give him any money or to buy anything for him. Skimpole introduces his daughters, who are much like their father, and he then accompanies Esther, Ada, and Mr. Jarndyce to Bleak House. They are there only a short time before Sir Leicester pays an unexpected visit. He has come to assure both Skimpole and Mr. Jarndyce that they are always welcome at the Dedlock mansion. Sir Leicester has reason to believe that Skimpole, not long ago, while examining some of the Dedlock family portraits, was inadvertently made to feel unwelcome. Esther, afraid that the subject of the family portraits might lead to some remark that might betray her mother, is greatly relieved when Sir Leicester leaves. Afterward, she talks in private with her guardian and tells him what she knows about her mother. In turn, she learns from Mr. Jarndyce that Boythorn was once in love with Lady Dedlock's sister, Miss Barbary, the woman who raised Esther. Miss Barbary broke her engagement in order to raise Esther.

Analysis

Here again is a microcosm of Dickens' serio-comic art. Most of the chapter is devoted to a comic portrait of Skimpole and his daughters, a subject almost completely irrelevant to the novel's main line of action. Yet present also are the important motifs of Lady Dedlock's peril and of Richard's continuing irresponsibility about money and associations.

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