Summary and Analysis
Chapter 18 - Lady Dedlock
Richard, not surprisingly, decides that he will drop his medical apprenticeship and begins a career in law, working in Mr. Kenge's office. Mr. Jarndyce, Esther, Ada, and Skimpole visit Boythorn at his place near Chesney Wold. At church, Esther is surprised at how much Lady Dedlock resembles Miss Barbary.
Later, by chance, Esther, Ada, and Mr. Jarndyce encounter Lady Dedlock in a gamekeeper's lodge, where they have all sought shelter from a fierce thunderstorm. Hearing Lady Dedlock speak, Esther's heart beats wildly, unexplainably: ". . . there arose before my mind innumerable pictures of myself." Lady Dedlock offends her French maid, Mlle. Hortense, by seeming to prefer Rosa, and, when it stops raining, Hortense walks home barefoot through the wet grass.
This chapter tends to confirm the reader's surmise that strong connections exist, and will soon be revealed, between Esther, Lady Dedlock, and Miss Barbary. The portrayal of Hortense as a violently emotional person, offended by Lady Dedlock, prepares the reader for the revenge that the maid will take later in the novel.