Summary and Analysis
Here again, we see that Mr. Jarndyce is frequently distressed by the "philanthropists" with whom he associates. Harold Skimpole reveals that Coavinses (Neckett), the man who frequently arrested him for debt, has died. Mr. Jarndyce, Esther, and Ada go to Neckett's lodgings and find that the man left three destitute children — Charlotte (Charley), Tom, and eighteen-month-old Emma.
Mr. Gridley (a fellow boarder at Mrs. Blinder's), a bitter, truculent "man from Shropshire," is surprisingly kind and helpful to Neckett's children. He tells Mr. Jarndyce and his wards the cause of his bitterness: The delay of the Chancery Court has destroyed the inheritance that belonged to him and his brother.
Harold Skimpole and the Chancery Court have something important in common: Both seem unreal in attitude and both are quite irresponsible. Through the figure of Gridley, Dickens strengthens his criticism of Chancery. The unmerited and pathetic suffering of children, a recurring theme in much of Dickens' fiction, is portrayed again in the children made orphans by Neckett's death.