Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

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Bleak House: Chapter 47 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Mr. Woodcourt buys Jo breakfast, but the boy is very weak and cannot eat much. Mr. Woodcourt is determined to find him a room and goes to Krook’s shop to find Miss Flite. He is told that she has moved to Mrs. Blinder’s. When Mr. Woodcourt arrives at Miss Flite’s new lodgings, he receives a delighted greeting from the old lady, but is told that all the rooms are full. Miss Flite, however, remembering Gridley—whose room she now occupies—suggests that they take the boy to George and leads Mr. Woodcourt there with Jo.
Miss Flite thinks that, since George was kind to Gridley, he will perhaps also take pity on Jo and allow him to stay there.
Themes
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
George is pleased to see Miss Flite and listens gravely to Jo’s story. Mr. Woodcourt tells him that Jo needs a place to stay but that he does not want to take him to a hospital or workhouse because he will soon be turned out. In these establishments, he will also be within reach of the man he is afraid of: Mr. Bucket. George immediately agrees to keep him and says that he may lie down on a mattress in the shooting gallery.
George is a compassionate man and takes an interest in Jo because Jo is in need. Jo is afraid of Mr. Bucket because Mr. Bucket is so shrewd and observant that he seems, to the poor, delirious boy, to be everywhere and know everything.
Themes
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Mr. Woodcourt tells George that Jo will likely die, and George solemnly assures the doctor that the boy will be cared for. While Phil takes Jo for a bath, George and Mr. Woodcourt talk of their mutual acquaintance with Esther and seem to approve of each other. George tells Mr. Woodcourt that the man Mr. Bucket took Jo to see is Mr. Tulkinghorn, a devious man who keeps people “dangling” rather than being honest with them.
George and Mr. Woodcourt are both honorable, practical men who willingly help those who are weak and in need and do not expect praise or repayment for their services. George sees through Mr. Tulkinghorn’s façade of respectability and can see that the lawyer uses underhanded methods to get his way and achieve power.
Themes
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
After this brief conversation, Mr. Woodcourt decides to take Jo to see Mr. Snagsby, because Jo has mentioned the name so frequently. Mr. Snagsby is very troubled when Mr. Woodcourt appears, because he assumes that he is connected to the mystery, which Mrs. Snagsby has set out to solve. Mr. Snagsby tells Mr. Woodcourt that living with his wife is like living in a madhouse. He is sorry to hear about Jo’s condition, however, and says he will visit that night.
Mr. and Mrs. Snagsby have both become extremely paranoid. Mr. Snagsby still does not understand why he was called to Mr. Tulkinghorn’s office, and suspects that there is a conspiracy at the heart of the matter, and Mrs. Snagsby has driven herself to distraction by imagining all the possible reasons that Mr. Snagsby could be acting strangely.
Themes
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
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Jo lies in bed very ill. Phil and George take good care of him, many people come to visit. Esther, Mr. Jarndyce, and Mr. Snagsby all come to see Jo, but he is confused and delirious. One day, Jo sits up and cries that Captain Hawdon has come to take him to the cemetery. He dies that afternoon, another of the many poor and homeless people who die in London every day.
Jo, in his delirium, seems to see the ghost of Captain Hawdon. It is really Jo’s memory of the Captain, who often had a kind word for him, and his memory of his visit to the cemetery with Lady Dedlock, which combine in his mind. Dickens uses Jo’s death to suggest that real help needs to be supplied to the poor to prevent so many undignified and needless deaths.
Themes
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon