Bleak House By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Chapter 55 - Flight

Mrs. Bagnet brings Mrs. Rouncewell to George's prison cell, where mother and son are happily reunited after many years of separation. George consents to accept a defense lawyer.


Summary

Mrs. Bagnet brings Mrs. Rouncewell to George's prison cell, where mother and son are happily reunited after many years of separation. George consents to accept a defense lawyer.

When Mrs. Rouncewell goes to the Dedlock house, she tells Lady Dedlock that George is being held for Tulkinghorn's murder. She also shows Lady Dedlock a letter giving a printed (newspaper) account of the discovery of Tulkinghorn's body and bearing, under the account, Lady Dedlock's name and the word "murderess." Mr. Guppy arrives, warns her that Hawdon's letters, which he thought were destroyed, are now held by the Smallweeds, and he tells her further that Grandfather Smallweed will probably use them to try to extract money from her. (Guppy is protective of Lady Dedlock in accordance with the promise he made to Esther.)

When Guppy leaves, Lady Dedlock is seized with horror. Tulkinghorn, though dead, remains a menacing figure: Even in death, he pursues her. She writes a brief letter to Sir Leicester explaining her own motives and movements on the night of Tulkinghorn's murder. She states that she is innocent of Tulkinghorn's murder, but that she is not innocent of anything else that "you have heard, or will hear." Then she "veils and dresses quickly, leaves all her jewels and her money and exits the house.

Analysis

The reunion of George Rouncewell and his mother ties up one of the loose ends of a subplot and provides another occasion for Dickens to provide his early readers with something many of them delighted in: the effusive expression of virtuous domestic sentiment.

Once again Mr. Guppy, though still somewhat absurd, appears in a rather favorable light. Lady Dedlock follows the pattern so often found in classical tragedy: Because she lacks certain vital information (her husband's forgiveness, Hortense's arrest), she makes a fatal decision. Her character, however, is not sufficiently deep or noble to create the compelling effect of high tragedy; she is a figure of pathos.

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