Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Charles Dickens's Bleak House. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Bleak House: Introduction
Bleak House: Plot Summary
Bleak House: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Bleak House: Themes
Bleak House: Quotes
Bleak House: Characters
Bleak House: Terms
Bleak House: Symbols
Bleak House: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Charles Dickens
Historical Context of Bleak House
Other Books Related to Bleak House
- Full Title: Bleak House
- When Written: 1852-1853
- Where Written: London
- When Published: 1852-1853
- Literary Period: Victorian
- Genre: Novel
- Setting: London and Kent
- Climax: Mr. Tulkinghorn discovers that Lady Dedlock has had an illegitimate child before her marriage to Sir Leicester, but he is murdered by Lady Dedlock’s maid, Mademoiselle Hortense, before he can reveal the secret.
- Antagonist: Mr. Tulkinghorn
- Point of View: Third Person and First Person
Extra Credit for Bleak House
Jarndyce and Jarndyce. The fictional lawsuit of Jarndyce and Jarndyce in Bleak House is believed to be based on a real Chancery lawsuit known as Thellusson v Woodford, which had been disputed in court for over 60 years. At the time of Dickens’s writing, it was widely believed that the Chancery system was in need of reform and Dickens’s novel helped support this idea and spurred many social campaigners into action.
Serialization. Bleak House was published over the course of a year in a series of 20 installments. Dickens used this format for most of his novels and often adapted the novel as he went to suit his reader’s expectations. It was common for him to ask people for their views on his novels and to alter his plots drastically if he anticipated that the public response to them would be negative.