Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

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Bleak House: Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Before Richard leaves for his apprenticeship, he and Ada agree that Esther should live with them after the marriage. Richard jokes that they may be rich by then, if Jarndyce and Jarndyce resolves, and Ada looks uncertain. She begs Richard not to put his trust in Chancery and to forget about it, but Richard cannot and makes all sorts of unrealistic plans.
Although Richard says he does not rely on his inheritance to make him rich, his actions suggest the opposite and he does not commit to a career because he believes that, one day, his fortune will be made through Chancery.
Themes
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
A short while before they leave London, Caddy comes to visit Ada and Esther and brings Peepy with her. She tells them that Mrs. Jellyby is as chaotic as ever and that her father will soon be bankrupt. She also declares that although her mother has intended her to marry Mr. Quale, she will never marry a philanthropist and, instead, is secretly engaged to another man. She hopes that she and her husband can make a fine home and take care of her father and siblings.
Mrs. Jellyby’s philanthropic efforts have ruined her husband because she spends so much money on them. Caddy hates philanthropists because of her mother’s influence, and she will not marry one because she worries that her husband’s missions will ruin her just like her Mrs. Jellyby’s missions have ruined her father.
Themes
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Caddy is engaged to her dancing master, Prince Turveydrop, whose father, Mr. Turveydrop, is a very noble man. They have often met in secret at Miss Flite’s room, and Caddy has grown fond of the old woman. Esther agrees to go with her to the dance studio the next day to be introduced to Prince.
Despite her madness, Miss Flite is a very kind old woman and does her best to help the characters throughout the novel, emphasizing that the novel’s characters are not always what they seem at first glance.
Themes
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
They arrive at the dance studio the next day, just as a lesson is about to begin. Caddy hurriedly introduces them to Prince before his father, Mr. Turveydrop, enters the room. His father is lavishly dressed, extremely genteel, and a “model of Deportment.”
Mr. Turveydrop is a very fashionable man who, despite being a dance teacher, and not a member of the nobility himself, has convinced everyone that he is uniquely genteel because of his way of carrying himself, or his “deportment.”
Themes
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
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While Prince begins the dance lesson, a woman who has brought in two pupils tells Esther that Mr. Turveydrop takes all the credit for his son’s work and that he worked his young wife, Prince’s mother, to death. The woman remarks, however, that his young wife was totally blinded by his “deportment” and thought him a most wonderful husband. She seems to hate the old man and complains bitterly that he believes that he is royalty.
Mr. Turveydrop is a conman, however, and has not earned the praise and attention which is showered on him. Instead, he takes credit for other people’s hard work and reaps the rewards when good people are taken in by his façade of nobility. Mr. Turveydrop is a social climber, like Mr. Guppy, and is parasitic in the same way as Mr. Skimpole because he makes use of other people’s industry and money but provides nothing in return.
Themes
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
During the lesson, Mr. Turveydrop approaches Esther and begins to charm her with his elegant conversation. He complains to her that society has degenerated because people no longer learn the art of “deportment.” Even his son, he complains, has no real style. Esther tries to defend Prince’s hard work in the class, but Mr. Turveydrop condescendingly dismisses her opinion.
This is part of Mr. Turveydrop’s act and makes him appear elite and unique, although he is really an ordinary man. The fashionable world is easily taken in by appearance and façade, and Mr. Turveydrop has successfully convinced society that he is a very important man simply by acting like one.
Themes
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
The lesson ends and Mr. Turveydrop reminds Prince that he has another lesson elsewhere that he must hurry to attend. Prince gets ready to leave but first checks that his father is taken care of for the rest of the day. He affectionately bids the older man, and then Caddy, farewell and hurries off. Esther likes Prince a lot but feels quite baffled by his father, who appears so regal and yet works his son so hard. She thinks about this as she departs with Caddy to visit Miss Flite.
Prince is a naïve young man and totally charmed by his father’s pretense of greatness. This makes him devoted to the old man and he works very hard to see that he is taken care of, which obviously works very well for Mr. Turveydrop but is much to Prince’s detriment. Esther sees through this arrangement but does not trust her judgement enough to feel sure that she is right.
Themes
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
On their way, Caddy tells Esther that Prince worked for his father through his childhood and, consequently, cannot read and write well. Caddy, who has always written for her mother but has been educated in nothing else, plans to help him with this. She has been helping Miss Flite clean her rooms so that she can learn how to keep her future home tidy.
Mr. Turveydrop made Prince work as a child, which is not a noble thing to do when he himself is quite capable of earning. He has neglected Prince’s education, just as Mrs. Jellyby has neglected Caddy’s, but for different reasons which are, however, equally self-serving.
Themes
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
As they arrive at Krook’s, Caddy tells Esther that the other lodger has died, and that Miss Flite has been ill because of the shock. As they pass Nemo’s door, Esther feels a shiver. Ada and Mr. Jarndyce are with Miss Flite when Esther and Caddy arrive. A doctor, Mr. Woodcourt, is also present. He speaks kindly to Miss Flite and tells her she will be well enough to attend the court the next day, where her absence has been noted.
Esther’s shiver foreshadows her connection with Nemo, which is yet to be revealed. Mr. Woodcourt is kind to Miss Flite and makes her feel important when he suggests that she is missed in court where, of course in reality, she is not much noticed as a mad woman. It seems that Mr. Woodcourt’s kindness gives Miss Flite an incentive to recover.
Themes
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Miss Flite tells them that she has been very anxious and disturbed ever since Nemo’s death, and Mr. Woodcourt agrees this is the case. He has kindly been treating her free of charge ever since the death occurred. Miss Flite then tells them that, recently, at the end of every court day, a clerk gives her a shilling. She believes that this is compensation for the length of her trial. As she says this, Esther looks at Mr. Jarndyce and knows that he has arranged this.
Mr. Woodcourt is very generous and is willing to work for free to help those in need. Mr. Jarndyce too, is an example of commendable charity. He has arranged to give Miss Flite a mysterious income so that Miss Flite will not starve. He keeps it secret because he hates to be thanked and does not act kindly in order to win praise.
Themes
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Miss Flite is about to tell them the names of her birds, when she hears Krook outside the door. Mr. Jarndyce opens the door and finds Krook eavesdropping. He enters the room shiftily and seems pleased to converse with a Jarndcye. Krook also knows the names of Miss Flite’s birds and lists them off for the group. He then says in a low voice to Mr. Jarndyce that, if Miss Flite ever sets the birds free, they will be slaughtered by wild birds. Mr. Jarndyce seems disturbed by Krook, but Krook seems unwilling to leave Mr. Jarndyce’s side. Krook offers to show them around the shop and, after this tour, they return home.
Krook is a shifty, untrustworthy man who always seeks ways to win power over people. Miss Flite’s birds represent the illusions of those who wait for Chancery settlements. The wild birds beyond the cage represent the harsh reality that most suits will never be resolved and those which are will lose a large chunk of the money in legal fees.
Themes
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon