Esther and Mr. Jarndyce return to London and are surprised when Mr. Guppy, Mrs. Guppy, and Mr. Weevle come to see them. Mr. Jarndyce is very amused when Esther tells him of Mr. Guppy’s previous advances and invites them into the library. Mr. Guppy explains that he is successful man with many noble connections and that, although he thought that he had fallen out of love with Esther, he has realized recently that this is not the case and would “magnanimously” like to renew his proposal.
Although Mr. Guppy did not want to marry Esther after her face was scarred, and when he thought she was poor and had no connections, now that he has found out she is Lady Dedlock’s daughter, he wishes to marry her for the social prestige attached to this name. He suggests that he is doing her a favor when, really, he is trying to help himself.
Mr. Jarndyce listens to Mr. Guppy’s long speech and tells him that Esther most certainly declines. Mr. Guppy is amazed this refusal, and they have some trouble turning Mrs. Guppy out of the house. She indignantly protests in the stairwell that her son is a decent man and that Esther should be grateful for the offer. Finally, Mr. Guppy and Mr. Weevle, both deeply embarrassed, drag her from the room.
Mr. Jarndyce sees through Mr. Guppy and teases him . He allows him to explain and embarrass himself. Mrs. Guppy is a social climber who looks down on noble people but also, jealously, wants to be like them.
Mr. Jarndyce discovers that Jarndyce and Jarndyce will be settled in two days’ time. Esther and Mr. Woodcourt decide to go to the court to be with Richard, who is very feeble and sick. On their way, they pass Caddy, who has heard about Esther’s wedding and is extremely excited to talk to her about it.
Richard is almost worn out with suspense as he waits for the verdict. It seems that he’s so worn out that he won’t even be able to enjoy the case finally coming to a close—Chancery has already sapped him of his vitality.
They are a little late to the court because of this interruption and, when they arrive, find that the court is stuffed with people and that there is a great commotion going on. They ask a passing clerk what has happened, and he says that Jarndyce and Jarndyce is finished. Esther and Mr. Woodcourt hope that the news is good for Richard and Ada but are confused by the clerks’ behavior—everyone they pass is in fits of laughter and scatters their papers all over the place.
Something monumental has clearly happened at the court. The lawyers seem to be amused by this, and there has clearly been some irony in the way that Jarndyce and Jarndyce has worked out.
On their way out, they meet Mr. Kenge and he explains that all the money owed in the lawsuit has been used up in legal fees. Mr. Woodcourt is horrified for Richard’s sake and rushes to find him. Esther goes home to fetch Mr. Jarndyce, and they meet later that day at Richard’s apartment. They find Richard on the couch and Ada with him, and Mr. Woodcourt tells them gravely that he had to be carried from the court with blood in his mouth.
The tragic irony is that all of plaintiffs who have waited so long and invested so much in resolving the case will now be ruined. The lawyers do not care because they have made money from it, and this does not affect their business, as there will surely be more cases. Richard is very ill, and the blood in his mouth suggests that he may have tuberculosis.
Esther comforts Richard, and Mr. Jarndyce is brought inside where the two are reconciled. They speak gently to Richard of Esther’s upcoming wedding and he promises Mr. Jarndyce that he will have a fresh start now that the delirium of Chancery is over and has left him. Richard asks when he will leave his horrible apartment and be happy with his wife and child. They tell him very soon, and Ada holds him as he dies. When Miss Flite arrives, she tells them that she has set her birds free.
The madness has left Richard now that the case is complete, and he can see clearly that Mr. Jarndyce is a kind man and not his enemy. It is too late to help Richard, and the only way that he will leave his poor, ruined circumstances, is to die. Miss Flite has set her birds free, just as the many plaintiffs of Jarndyce and Jarndyce have been set free.