Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Bleak House can help.

Bleak House: Chapter 33 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
An inquest will be held for Krook, just as an inquest was held for Nemo, and Krook’s death is also the talk of the street. Mr. Guppy and Mr. Weevle are supplied with drinks in the pub and asked to repeat the story many times. Two policeman guard the door of the shop. Mr. Snagsby rushes to the Sol’s Arms when he hears the news but is forced to leave before he hears the story because Mrs. Snagsby has followed him. She glares at him accusingly, and Mr. Snagsby almost thinks she holds him responsible for Krook’s death.
Mr. Guppy and Mr. Weevle are the center of gossip because they discovered Krook. Mrs. Snagsby still suspects Mr. Snagsby of infidelity. Ironically, because Mr. Snagsby does not know what Mrs. Snagsby imagines, his own imagination concocts wild accusations with which she might charge him.
Themes
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Mr. Weevle and Mr. Guppy walk from the pub together towards the court and are both very uneasy about the previous night’s events. Mr. Weevle accuses Mr. Guppy of conspiracy and Mr. Guppy indignantly, but rather anxiously, denies this. They irritably decide on a story to tell at the inquest, which explains their presence in Krook’s shop, and Mr. Weevle says that he plans to leave his lodgings immediately. Mr. Guppy says that to do so is to waste an opportunity, but Mr. Weevle snaps that Mr. Guppy should go and live in his old room.
Mr. Guppy still has not told Mr. Weevle all his plans, and the men now suspect each other. They are concerned that they will be implicated somehow in Krook’s death because of their presence at the shop. Mr. Guppy is a coward and wants Mr. Weevle to stay in the room, which they now both consider unlucky and haunted, to gather information for him.
Themes
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
As they walk along the road, they pass a carriage which contains most of the Smallweed family. Mr. Smallweed leans out of the window and excitedly calls to Mr. Guppy. He asks him to carry him into the Sol’s Arms and Mr. Guppy reluctantly does so, with Mr. Weevle’s help. Judy and Bart follow, accompanied by Mrs. Smallweed. They deposit Mr. Smallweed in an armchair and he says that he has come to learn about the recent accident. Mr. Guppy and Mr. Weevle tell him that they discovered Krook.
Mr. Guppy and Mr. Weevle do not know why Mr. Smallweed is so excited about Krook’s death.
Themes
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Mr. Smallweed tells them that Krook was Mrs. Smallweed’s brother, and that they have come to take possession of the shop. Mrs. Smallweed begins to dance and chant crazily when she hears this, and Mr. Smallweed swears at her. Mr. Guppy and Mr. Weevle are rather indignant that Bart never told them of this relation. They help carry Mr. Smallweed up through Krook’s shop and into Miss Flite’s room, which is currently deserted.
Mrs. Smallweed has inherited the shop, and all the documents inside it, but, since she is mad, her husband will take possession of it. Mr. Guppy is a hypocrite as he has tried to hide his secrets from Bart but is irritated that Bart has kept a secret from him—it’s clear that none of the clerks are trustworthy and all are trying to double cross each other. Miss Flite attends court during the day, which is why her room is empty.
Themes
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Get the entire Bleak House LitChart as a printable PDF.
Bleak House PDF
The street is in a frenzy of excitement all day. A coffin is obtained for Krook, despite the manner of his death, and scientists, doctors, and journalists gather in the street, wanting to discuss the cause of death and the likelihood of spontaneous combustion. Mr. Guppy lingers around and is disheartened to see Mr. Smallweed lock up the shop before he departs.
It was a matter of scientific dispute whether spontaneous combustion could occur or not well into the 20th century. It is now considered to be a myth and its victims are believed to have burned to death after being exposed to a spark or flame. Mr. Guppy seems to have lost his chance to rifle through Krook’s documents.
Themes
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Mr. Guppy pays a visit to Lady Dedlock. She seems, as usual, perfectly indifferent and disdainful of him. He tells her contritely that he does not have the letters and that he knows they have been destroyed. Lady Dedlock dismisses him but, as Mr. Guppy slinks towards the door, Mr. Tulkinghorn enters the room.
Mr. Guppy has promised to bring Lady Dedlock the letters but now believes they were destroyed in the fire. Mr. Guppy does not wish his employers to know of his private investigations, but this aim is foiled when Mr. Tulkinghorn arrives.
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
Mr. Guppy is horrified to see the lawyer here and wishes him good day. Mr. Tulkinghorn, however, has met Lady Dedlock’s eye and a predatory look passes over his face. The moment passes quickly, and Mr. Tulkinghorn apologizes for the interruption. Lady Dedlock says that it is fine; she is just going out for dinner. Mr. Tulkinghorn nods and then stops Mr. Guppy and asks him who he works for. Mr. Guppy says that he is employed by Kenge and Carboy, and Mr. Tulkinghorn seems to recognize him. Mr. Guppy hurries away and Mr. Tulkinghorn politely helps Lady Dedlock to her carriage.
Although Mr. Tulkinghorn does not work for Mr. Guppy’s company, he knows everything that goes on in the world of law.
Themes
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon