Summary and Analysis Chapter 17


From the Badgers, Esther and Ada learn that Richard is not taking his medical apprenticeship seriously. Later, Richard admits as much and says that he may abandon medicine and take up law. For Ada's sake, Esther and Mr. Jarndyce are alarmed.


Mr. Jarndyce tells Esther what he knows about her past. He had agreed to become her guardian if and when her aunt (Miss Barbary) died.

The next day, Allan Woodcourt, accompanied by his mother, comes to say goodbye. Allan is bound for the Orient as a ship's surgeon. The following morning, Caddy Jellyby delivers flowers that Allan left, seemingly on purpose, for Esther.


Esther's quickening curiosity about her past parallels Lady Dedlock's pursuit of the facts about Nemo. To some readers, this parallel may suggest the possibility of a close connection between Esther and Lady Dedlock. There can no longer be any doubt that eventually Allan Woodcourt and Esther will be brought together.