Bleak House

Bleak House


Charles Dickens

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Esther Summerson

Esther, the novel’s protagonist, thinks she is an orphan but is actually the daughter of Lady Dedlock, a wealthy woman who is married to Sir Leicester Dedlock. Lady Dedlock gave birth to Esther… read analysis of Esther Summerson

Mr. Jarndyce

Mr. Jarndyce adopts Esther Summerson at Miss Barbary’s private request and pays for the girl’s education. He then gives Esther a place in his home as his housekeeper and the companion to his relative… read analysis of Mr. Jarndyce

Lady Dedlock

A proud, strong, and determined woman, Lady Dedlock is the wife of Sir Leicester Dedlock and the mother of Esther Summerson. Lady Dedlock is not from a noble family but has used her fashionable… read analysis of Lady Dedlock

Sir Leicester Dedlock

Sir Leicester Dedlock, Lady Dedlock’s husband, is an aristocrat and the descendant of the noble Dedlock line, who have been extremely powerful and important in England for many generations. Although Sir Leicester is very… read analysis of Sir Leicester Dedlock

Ada Clare

Ada Clare is a ward of the court in the lawsuit Jarndyce and Jarndyce, and the close friend of Esther Summerson, who is hired as a companion for her. Ada is an orphan and… read analysis of Ada Clare
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Richard Carstone

Richard is a ward of the court in the lawsuit Jarndyce and Jarndyce, as well as the cousin and eventual husband of Ada Clare. He is taken under the guardianship of Mr. Jarndyceread analysis of Richard Carstone

Mr. Tulkinghorn

Mr. Tulkinghorn is Sir Leicester Dedlock’s lawyer. He holds a grudge against Sir Leicester’s wife, Lady Dedlock, whom he suspects is not truly of noble birth. Mr. Tulkinghorn specializes in working with wealthy… read analysis of Mr. Tulkinghorn

Mr. Vholes

Mr. Vholes is a lawyer who takes on Richard Carstone’s case in the lawsuit Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Mr. Vholes is a predatory and morally bankrupt man, but, like Mr. Tulkinghorn, conceals this under… read analysis of Mr. Vholes

Mr. Guppy

Mr. Guppy is a young clerk in Mr. Kenge’s office. An ambitious, self-interested man and a social climber, Mr. Guppy cares a great deal about his appearance and reputation and is primarily interested in… read analysis of Mr. Guppy

Mr. Jobling / Mr. Weevle

Mr. Jobling is a friend of Mr. Guppy and Bart Smallweed’s and has recently been fired from his job as a clerk. Mr. Jobling is an unlucky man and an unsuccessful social climber. He… read analysis of Mr. Jobling / Mr. Weevle

Bart Smallweed

Bart Smallweed is the grandson and Mr. Smallweed and Mrs. Smallweed and the brother of Judy Smallweed. He is a clerk is the same company as Mr. Guppy and a friend of Mr. Joblingread analysis of Bart Smallweed

Mr. Smallweed

Mr. Smallweed is an elderly miser, the husband of Mrs. Smallweed, and the grandfather of Bart Smallweed and Judy Smallweed. He is an invalid and is carried everywhere in a chair from his… read analysis of Mr. Smallweed

Mrs. Smallweed

Mrs. Smallweed is the wife of Mr. Smallweed and the grandmother of Judy Smallweed and Bart Smallweed. Mrs. Smallweed is an elderly woman who suffers from dementia. She spends her days sitting in her… read analysis of Mrs. Smallweed

Judy Smallweed

Judy Smallweed is the granddaughter of Mr. Smallweed and Mrs. Smallweed and the sister of Bart Smallweed. She is mean, pinched woman who has grown up to be just as bitter, joyless, and greedy… read analysis of Judy Smallweed


Krook, Mrs. Smallweed’s brother, is an old drunk who keeps a rag and bone shop in back street behind the court of Chancery. Krook is illiterate and cannot read the heaps of legal documents… read analysis of Krook

Miss Flite

Miss Flite is a poor, mad old lady who rents a room above Krook’s shop and who spends her day awaiting a judgement on her Chancery suit in the courthouse. Miss Flite immediately takes… read analysis of Miss Flite

Captain Hawdon / Nemo

Captain Hawdon is Lady Dedlock’ ex-lover and the father of Esther Summerson, whom Lady Dedlock gave birth to illegitimately and in secret. Captain Hawdon was once an officer in the army and was… read analysis of Captain Hawdon / Nemo


George is an ex-soldier who runs a shooting gallery near the Chancery court and who keeps a manservant named Phil. George is a bachelor and has lived a rootless life. He has never settled… read analysis of George


Phil is George’s manservant who helps him run the shooting gallery. Phil is extremely poor and is an orphan and knows little of his origins. When he was a child, he followed a traveling… read analysis of Phil


Jo is a poor, homeless boy who sweeps the streets around the Chancery court and receives a few coins from passersby for this work. Jo is an orphan and knows nothing about his parents. He… read analysis of Jo

Mr. Snagsby

Mr. Snagsby, Mrs. Snagsby’s husband, runs a law stationer’s shop near the court of Chancery and hires many freelance law writers, including the elusive Nemo, or Captain Hawdon. Mr. Snagsby is a mild-mannered… read analysis of Mr. Snagsby

Mrs. Snagsby

Mrs. Snagsby is the wife of Mr. Snagsby, who runs the law stationer’s shop outside the court of Chancery. She is a high-strung and emotionally volatile woman with an overactive imagination. Although her husband… read analysis of Mrs. Snagsby


Guster is the servant of Mr. Snagsby and Mrs. Snagsby, who run a law stationer’s shop outside the Chancery court. Guster is an orphan and is prone to seizures, which are brought on when… read analysis of Guster

Mr. Bagnet

Mr. Bagnet is an ex-solider and a good friend of George’s. Mr. Bagnet is the husband of Mrs. Bagnet and the father of Woolwich, Quebec, and Malta. He is a devoted… read analysis of Mr. Bagnet

Mrs. Bagnet

Mrs. Bagnet is the wife of Mr. Bagnet and the mother of Woolwich, Quebec, and Malta. She is a very determined, practical woman, as well as a devoted wife and mother. She… read analysis of Mrs. Bagnet

Mr. Bucket

Mr. Bucket is a private investigator who takes on the case of Mr. Tulkinghorn’s murder for which Sir Leicester Dedlock offers a substantial reward. Mr. Bucket has worked with Mr. Tulkinghorn previously, when Mr… read analysis of Mr. Bucket

Mrs. Bucket

Mrs. Bucket is the wife of Mr. Bucket and operates as his partner in his private detective work. Her lodger is Mademoiselle Hortense, who is also a suspect in the case of Mr. Tulkinghornread analysis of Mrs. Bucket

Mademoiselle Hortense

Mademoiselle Hortense, a French woman, is Lady Dedlock’s maid. She is an extremely jealous and proud woman and cannot stand to be treated as an inferior in her role as a servant. She despises… read analysis of Mademoiselle Hortense


Jenny is a very poor woman, the wife of a brickmaker, and a friend of Liz’s. Esther Summerson and Ada Clare meet Jenny when they visit the brickmaker’s house with Mrs. Pardiggle and… read analysis of Jenny


Liz is a very poor woman, the wife of a brickmaker, and a friend of Jenny’s. Liz meets Esther Summerson and Ada Clare when they visit the house with Mrs. Pardiggle soon after Jenny’s… read analysis of Liz

The Brickmaker

The brickmaker is a poor, working man whom Esther Summerson and Ada Clare meet on a philanthropic visit to his house with Mrs. Pardiggle. He is married to Jenny and lives with her friend… read analysis of The Brickmaker

Mrs. Jellyby

A wealthy woman, Mrs. Jellyby is the wife of Mr. Jellyby, and the mother of Caddy, Peepy, and the other Jellyby children. Mrs. Jellyby is a philanthropist and is obsessed with a… read analysis of Mrs. Jellyby

Mr. Skimpole

Mr. Skimpole is a friend of Mr. Jarndyce’s and a playful, entertaining gentleman of leisure. He is not a poor man, but he is always in debt and constantly borrows money from Mr. Jarndyce… read analysis of Mr. Skimpole

Mrs. Pardiggle

Mrs. Pardiggle is a philanthropist and a friend of Mrs. Jellyby’s. She is acquainted with Mr. Jarndyce, who dislikes her, and frequently visits the house of a brickmaker, Jenny’s husband, whom… read analysis of Mrs. Pardiggle

Mr. Jellyby

Mr. Jellyby is the husband of Mrs. Jellyby and the father of Caddy, Peepy, and the other Jellyby children. Mr. Jellyby is totally defeated by his wife’s obsessive philanthropy. He cannot earn enough… read analysis of Mr. Jellyby

Mr. Quale

Mr. Quale is a philanthropist and friend of Mrs. Jellyby’s. Mrs. Jellyby wants him to marry Caddy, her eldest daughter, but Caddy despises Mr. Quale and hates all philanthropy in general because she… read analysis of Mr. Quale

Caddy Jellyby

Caddy Jellyby is the eldest daughter of Mrs. Jellyby and Mr. Jellyby and the older sister of Peepy. She becomes close friends with Esther Summerson and Ada Clare and marries Prince Turveydrop, her… read analysis of Caddy Jellyby

Prince Turveydrop

Prince Turveydrop is a dance teacher, the son of Mr. Turveydrop, and the husband of Caddy Jellyby. Prince is a sweet, earnest, and hard-working young man who goes out of his way to… read analysis of Prince Turveydrop

Mr. Turveydrop

Mr. Turveydrop is the father of Prince Turveydrop and the father-in-law of Caddy Jellyby. A well-dressed and poised man, Mr. Turveydrop is the owner of a prestigious dance studio and is well known in… read analysis of Mr. Turveydrop


Peepy is the son of Mrs. Jellyby and Mr. Jellyby and the younger brother of Caddy Jellyby. Esther Summerson meets and takes pity on Peepy when she first arrives at Mrs. Jellyby’s house and… read analysis of Peepy

Mr. Chadband

Mr. Chadband is a minister and pretends to be a deeply religious man. However, underneath this façade of piety, he is very greedy and interested in money. He eats a great deal and is described… read analysis of Mr. Chadband

Mrs. Chadband / Mrs. Rachael

Mrs. Chadband (formerly Mrs. Rachael) is the wife of Mr. Chadband and was previously the maid of Miss Barbary, who is the aunt of Esther Summerson. Mrs. Rachael is a cold, greedy woman… read analysis of Mrs. Chadband / Mrs. Rachael

Miss Barbary / Esther’s Godmother

Miss Barbary is Lady Dedlock’s sister and Esther Summerson’s aunt. She is a hard, judgmental woman, who despises her sister because she gave birth to an illegitimate child. Esther claims that her aunt… read analysis of Miss Barbary / Esther’s Godmother

Volumnia Dedlock

Volumnia Dedlock is a distant cousin of Sir Leicester Dedlock’s and often comes to stay with him at his house in Chesney Wold. Volumnia pretends to be much younger than she is, and is… read analysis of Volumnia Dedlock

Tom Jarndyce

Tom Jarndyce is the grandfather of Richard Carstone and Ada Clare and the uncle of Mr. Jarndyce. Tom Jarndyce famously tried to solve Jarndyce and Jarndyce but went mad while he waited for a… read analysis of Tom Jarndyce


Rosa is a beautiful servant girl whom Lady Dedlock hires. She becomes engaged to Watt, Mr. Rouncewell’s son. Lady Dedlock hires Rosa because Rosa bears some resemblance to herself, and Lady Dedlock likes… read analysis of Rosa

Mr. Rouncewell

Mr. Rouncewell is the son of Mrs. Rouncewell, the father of Watt, and the brother of George. Mr. Rouncewell is an industrious and practical man who has made his fortune in the… read analysis of Mr. Rouncewell

Mrs. Rouncewell

Mrs. Rouncewell is the housekeeper at Sir Leicester Dedlock’s country house, Chesney Wold. She is the mother of George and Mr. Rouncewell and the grandmother of Watt. Mrs. Rouncewell loves both her… read analysis of Mrs. Rouncewell

Mr. Woodcourt

Mr. Woodcourt is a young surgeon, the son of Mrs. Woodcourt, and the eventual husband of Esther Summerson. Mr. Woodcourt is a generous and loyal young man who dedicates his life to his… read analysis of Mr. Woodcourt

Mrs. Woodcourt

Mrs. Woodcourt is Mr. Woodcourt’s mother and becomes the mother-in-law of Esther Summerson. She is a friend of Mr. Jarndyce’s and often visits his house. Mrs. Woodcourt is a proud woman… read analysis of Mrs. Woodcourt


Charley is the daughter of Neckett, the elder sister of Emma and Tom, and the maid of Esther Summerson. Charley is orphaned when her father dies, and she is left to care… read analysis of Charley


Gridley is a man from the north of England who has come to London as a young man to pursue his interests in a Chancery suit. Gridley’s father left him some property, but the suit… read analysis of Gridley

Mr. Boythorn

Mr. Boythorn is a close friend of Mr. Jarndyce’s and was once engaged to Miss Barbary, Esther Summerson’s aunt, in his youth. Mr. Boythorn is an extremely boisterous and aggressive man but… read analysis of Mr. Boythorn
Minor Characters
Quebec is Mr. Bagnet and Mrs. Bagnet’s daughter and goddaughter to George.
Malta is Mr. Bagnet and Mrs. Bagnet’s daughter and goddaughter to George.
Woolwich is Mr. Bagnet and Mrs. Bagnet’s eldest son and godson to George.
Mr. Kenge
Mr. Kenge is a lawyer and a partner in the law firm Kenge and Carboy’s. He is legally involved in Esther’s upbringing with Miss Barbary but does not know that Lady Dedlock is Esther’s mother. He is a very talkative man and is known as “conversation Kenge.”
Bob Stables
Bob Stables is an aged, aristocratic cousin of Sir Leicester Dedlock’s.
Mrs. Piper
Mrs. Piper is a poor woman who lives near Krook’s shop and is a friend of Mrs. Perkins’s.
Mrs. Perkins
Mrs. Perkins is a poor woman who lives near Krook’s shop and is a friend of Mrs. Piper’s.
Lord Chancellor
The Lord Chancellor is the high judge of the court of Chancery.
Watt is the grandson of Mrs. Rouncewell and the son of Mr. Rouncewell. He becomes engaged to Rosa, Lady Dedlock’s maid.
Neckett is a debt collector who is sent to Mr. Jarndyce’s house to arrest Mr. Skimpole for debt. Neckett lives in Mrs. Blinder’s house with his three children, Charley, Emma, and Tom. Their mother is dead and when Neckett dies, these children are left orphaned.
Emma is the daughter of Neckett and the younger sister of Charley and Tom.
Tom is the son of Neckett, the younger brother of Charley, and the older brother of Emma.
Mrs. Blinder
Mrs. Blinder is the landlady who keeps the house in which Neckett, Charley, Tom, Emma, Gridley, and, later, Miss Flite have lodgings.
Mr. Badger
Mr. Badger is a physician who takes on Richard Carstone for an apprenticeship at Mr. Jarndyce’s suggestion. Mr. Badger is married to Mrs. Badger, who has been married twice before to two very eminent men in their different professional spheres.
Mrs. Badger
Mrs. Badger is the wife of Mr. Badger and has been married twice before. She is very proud of her previous husbands, who are both dead, because both men were extremely dedicated to their professions and were famous in their fields.
Sir Morbury Dedlock
An ancestor of the Dedlock family. HIs wife, who had turned against the Dedlocks during the English Civil War, cursed him and all Dedlocks.
Mr. Tangle
A lawyer.
Mr. Grubble
The landlord of the village pub.