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 56 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In Sir Leicester’s townhouse, Volumnia is wandering about when she stumbles Sir Leicester, face down on the library floor. Lady Dedlock’s note still lies upon the table. Sir Leicester is not dead, but he seems to have aged massively in a short period of time and it is difficult for him to speak. Mrs. Rouncewell is at his bedside and he wonders where he is, London or Chesney Wold.
The novel implies that Sir Leicester has had a stroke brought on by the shock he received when he learned of Lady Dedlock’s secret.
Themes
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Sir Leicester begs to see Lady Dedlock. Mrs. Rouncewell fetches the letter upon the table without reading it and gives it to Sir Leicester. He reads it through and moans, turning his face away from the housekeeper. Hours later, when he is again capable of movement, Sir Leicester signals for a slate to be brought and he tries to write upon it. He manages, after a struggle, to write the word “Mr.” and Mr. Bucket is summoned.
Sir Leicester is heartbroken for his wife when he reads the note and desperately wants Mr. Bucket to find Lady Dedlock. It seems that Sir Leicester still deeply cares for his wife despite her shameful past.
Themes
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Sir Leicester writes “Full Forgiveness. Find…” on the slate and Mr. Bucket immediately understands. He promises Sir Leicester that he will find Lady Dedlock and tells Mrs. Rouncewell that George is no longer a suspect and that she must take care of Sir Leicester. Next, Mr. Bucket searches Lady Dedlock’s room and finds the handkerchief which has Esther’s name embroidered upon it. He takes this with him and heads out into the night, where he rents a horse and cart.
Sir Leicester forgives Lady Dedlock everything. He truly loves his wife and cares little about his reputation in comparison with his love for her. It is tragic that Lady Dedlock runs away without knowing that her husband forgives her. Mr. Bucket looks for evidence and deduces that Esther is someone important to Lady Dedlock because she has kept her handkerchief.
Themes
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Mr. Bucket rides to George’s gallery and finds the trooper has just returned from Mr. Jarndyce’s house. Mr. Bucket asks for the address and rushes off again for this destination. He rings the bell and is admitted by Mr. Jarndyce who is dressed for bed. Mr. Bucket explains the situation and says that he wishes to take Esther with him to track down Lady Dedlock. He shows Mr. Jarndyce the letter Lady Dedlock left, which he thinks is a suicide note, and explains that, if he tries to find her alone, she may think he wants to arrest her and may do something drastic.
Mr. Bucket knows that Esther lives with Mr. Jarndyce and wants to find her. If Esther is with Mr. Bucket, Lady Dedlock will be less likely to run from her daughter or harm herself drastic in Esther’s presence. Mr. Bucket realizes that Lady Dedlock thinks she is a suspect and thinks that she is being hunted for the murder of Mr. Tulkinghorn.
Themes
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Get the entire Bleak House LitChart as a printable PDF.
Bleak House PDF
Mr. Jarndyce goes to get Esther and then returns to tell Mr. Bucket that she will accompany him. Mr. Bucket waits patiently and, while he does, thinks of all the places in London he knows where homeless and desperate people go and where among these Lady Dedlock is likely to venture.
Mr. Bucket uses his knowledge of the city and his powers of deduction to hone his search for Lady Dedlock.
Themes
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon