Summary and Analysis Chapter 5


Before breakfast, Caddy Jellyby suggests to Esther that the two go for a morning walk. Ada and Richard join them, and, after walking a short distance, the four meet old Miss Flite. The somewhat daft but kindly old lady insists that they see her lodgings. These prove to be rooms rented above a grotesque "rag-and-bottle" shop owned by an aged eccentric, Mr. Krook. Krook speaks with the group and mentions the names Barbary, Clare, and Dedlock as figures in the Jarndyce and Jarndyce suit, and gives an account of Tom Jarndyce's shooting himself in a tavern after the suit had dragged on interminably.


After visiting briefly with Miss Flite, the young people walk back to the Jellyby house. Richard, already affected adversely by the unending Jarndyce and Jarndyce suit, nevertheless states that the suit "will work none of its bad influence on us" and (speaking particularly to Ada) says that it "can't divide us." Early that afternoon, the three wards leave in an open carriage, bound for Bleak House.


Dickens creates Krook and his disordered, unproductive shop partly as macabre symbols of the legal system in general and the Lord High Chancellor and the Chancery Court in particular. The theme of the ruinous effects of Chancery is further developed through the presentation of the impoverished Miss Flite and the story of Tom Jamdyce's attempted suicide. Dickens prepares the reader for the story of "Nemo" by calling attention to the fact that Krook has another renter, a law copyist. Richard Carstone's attraction to Ada and his distress over the Jarndyce and Jarndyce suit foreshadow later developments.