Study Help Essay Questions


1. Is it in any way a disadvantage that various chapters of Bleak House are narrated by Esther Summerson?

2. Does Dickens' present-tense narration prevent him from doing certain things that are generally desirable in fiction?

3. What prevents Lady Dedlock from coming across as a "round" (fully developed, very lifelike) character?

4. Build a case for the position that the minor characters in Bleak House are generally more interesting than such major figures as Esther, John Jarndyce, and Lady Dedlock.

5. Is Bleak House more interesting for its "atmosphere" than for its characters?

6. Does Dickens make George Rouncewell's treatment of his mother convincing?

7. Does Dickens adequately motivate Tulkinghorn's obsessive pursuit of Lady Dedlock's secret?

8. Is Esther Summerson one of Dickens' "idealized and sentimentalized" heroines? Discuss.

9. At what point in the story does Sir Leicester Dedlock demonstrate a certain depth of character? What is the nature of the change? Is it credible?

10. Is Harold Skimpole a caricature, or is he rather a figure who might be drawn from real life?

11. What is Skimpole's concept of "generosity" and how is it different from the usual understanding of the term?

12. What (if any) advantage does the story gain from the fact that Boythorn is a rejected suitor of Miss Barbary?

13. Does the very minor character Rosa contribute anything of value to Bleak House?

14. Does Dickens make an artistic mistake when he has old Krook die of "spontaneous combustion"?

15. Is Bleak House a stronger (or more interesting) book for its inclusion of the character William Guppy?

16. If Bleak House is designed to be mainly a critique of the law and its practitioners in Dickens' time, why does Dickens give much prominence to the story of a woman — Lady Dedlock — whose problems stem mainly from matters other than those of the law?

17. The end of Bleak House is a very happy one. Does such an ending detract from Dickens' purpose of creating a powerful critique of the Chancery Court and other aspects of the law?