Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

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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 is taken in by Mr. Jarndyce, who also takes in Ada’s cousin Richard Carstone, as well as Esther. Ada is young and optimistic when she arrives at Mr. Jarndyce’s house. She is very beautiful and immediately finds love and attraction with Richard, whom she becomes engaged to and later marries. She is a loyal friend to Esther, and the two women become extremely close. Ada is kind and compassionate and is deeply affected by scenes of suffering and poverty that she witnesses. As her relationship with Richard progresses, Ada helplessly watches his descent into madness as his obsession with Jarndyce and Jarndyce spirals out of control. Although Ada tries to help Richard, she cannot talk him out of his involvement with the court. Ada is loyal to Richard, however, and marries him despite his impoverished condition and his mounting debt, as the fees he pays to his lawyer drain his meager income. She has faith that Richard will find a profession for himself and stays with him even when it becomes clear that this is not the case. Richard eventually dies in Ada’s arms and, several months later, she gives birth to his son. Although Ada grieves for her young husband, she does not allow his death to make her bitter and, instead, pours her love into their child.

Ada Clare Quotes in Bleak House

The Bleak House quotes below are all either spoken by Ada Clare or refer to Ada Clare. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Wordsworth edition of Bleak House published in 1993.
Chapter 4 Quotes

She was a pretty, very diminutive, plump woman, of from forty to fifty, with handsome eyes, though they had a curious habit of seeming to look a long way off. As if—I am quoting Richard again—they could see nothing nearer than Africa!

Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

‘We are never to get out of Chancery! We have come by another way to our place of meeting yesterday, and—by the Great Seal, here’s the old lady again!’

Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

A little way within the shop-door, lay heaps of old crackled parchment scrolls, and discolored and dog’s-eared law- papers […] One had only to fancy, as Richard whispered to Ada and me while we all stood looking in, that yonder bones in a corner, piled together and picked very clean, were the bones of clients, to make the picture complete.

Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

She partly drew aside the curtain of the long low garret-window, and called our attention to a number of bird-cages hanging there: some containing several birds. There were larks, linnets, and goldfinches—I should think at least twenty. ‘I began to keep the little creatures,’ she said, ‘with an object that the wards will readily comprehend. With the intention of restoring them to liberty. When my judgment should be given. Ye-es! They die in prison, though. Their lives, poor silly things, are so short in comparison with Chancery proceedings, that, one by one, the whole collection has died over and over again.’

Related Characters: Esther Summerson (speaker), Miss Flite (speaker), Ada Clare, Richard Carstone, Caddy Jellyby
Related Symbols: Miss Flite’s Birds
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

We observed that the wind always changed when Mrs. Pardiggle became the subject of conversation; and that it invariably interrupted Mr. Jarndyce, and prevented his going any farther, when he had remarked that there were two classes of charitable people: one, the people who did a little and made a great deal of noise; the other, the people who did a great deal and made no noise at all.

Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

‘I’ll save you the trouble. Is my daughter a-washin? Yes, she is a-washin. Look at the water. Smell it! That’s wot we drinks. How do you like it, and what do you think of gin, instead! An’t my place dirty? Yes, it is dirty—it’s nat’rally dirty, and it’s nat’rally onwholesome; and we’ve had five dirty and onwholesome children, as is all dead infants, and so much the better for them, and for us besides. Have I read the little book wot you left? No, I an’t read the little book wot you left. There an’t nobody here as knows how to read it; and if there wos, it wouldn’t be suitable to me. It’s a book fit for a babby, and I’m not a babby.’

Related Characters: The Brickmaker (speaker), Esther Summerson, Ada Clare, Jenny, Liz, Mrs. Pardiggle
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

Mrs. Pardiggle, who had been regarding him through her spectacles with a forcible composure, calculated, I could not help thinking, to increase his antagonism, pulled out a good book, as if it were a constable’s staff, and took the whole family into custody. I mean into religious custody, of course; but she really did it, as if she were an inexorable moral Policeman carrying them all off to a station-house.

Related Characters: Esther Summerson (speaker), Ada Clare, Jenny, Liz, The Brickmaker, Mrs. Pardiggle
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

We were looking at one another, and at these two children, when there came into the room a very little girl, childish in figure but shrewd and older-looking in the face—pretty-faced too—wearing a womanly sort of bonnet much too large for her, and drying her bare arms on a womanly sort of apron. Her fingers were white and wrinkled with washing, and the soap-suds were yet smoking which she wiped off her arms. But for this, she might have been a child, playing at washing, and imitating a poor working-woman with a quick observation of the truth.

Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 30 Quotes

One other singularity was, that nobody with a mission—except Mr Quale, whose mission, as I think I have formerly said, was to be in ecstasies with everybody’s mission—cared at all for anybody’s mission. Mrs Pardiggle being as clear that the only one infallible course was her course of pouncing upon the poor, and applying benevolence to them like a strait-waistcoat; as Miss Wisk was that the only practical thing for the world was the emancipation of Woman from the thraldom of her Tyrant, Man. Mrs Jellyby, all the while, sat smiling at the limited vision that could see anything but Borrioboola-Gha.

Page Number: 362
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 37 Quotes

I never shall forget those two seated side by side in the lantern’s light; Richard, all flush and fire and laughter, with the reins in his hand; Mr. Vholes, quite still, black-gloved, and buttoned up, looking at him as if he were looking at his prey and charming it. I have before me the whole picture of the warm dark night, the summer lightning, the dusty track of road closed in by hedgerows and high trees, the gaunt pale horse with his ears pricked up, and the driving away at speed to Jarndyce and Jarndyce.

Page Number: 457
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Bleak House LitChart as a printable PDF.
Bleak House PDF

Ada Clare Character Timeline in Bleak House

The timeline below shows where the character Ada Clare appears in Bleak House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
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Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
...and a young woman are also waiting. Mr. Kenge introduces Esther to the young woman, Ada Clare, who is to be her companion, and Esther is struck by Ada’s beauty. The... (full context)
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...Mr. Jarndyce of Bleak House while they wait for the outcome of Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Ada and Richard, it appears, are related, but Esther is from another family and is only... (full context)
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They are left outside the court to wait for Mr. Kenge. Richard asks Ada and Esther if either of them know where they are going, and they reply, to... (full context)
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...“expects a judgement” any day and feels that it may even fall on Judgement Day. Ada is a little spooked, and the three young people politely disentangle themselves from the old... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...the boy’s aid, and manages to free him. The boy rushes away unharmed, and Esther, Ada, and Richard enter Mrs. Jellyby’s home. (full context)
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Mrs. Jellyby asks Caddy to show Esther and Ada to their room, and Esther carries Peepy up with her and puts him to sleep... (full context)
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When Esther and Ada return to their room that night, they begin to talk about their guardian, Mr. Jarndyce.... (full context)
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Ada falls asleep quickly, but Esther lies awake. Caddy comes to the door to say goodnight,... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...who has appeared in her room very early, and puts him back to bed. Caddy, Ada, Esther, and Richard then set out into London. Caddy is extremely bad tempered and walks... (full context)
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Richard and Ada catch up with Esther and Caddy. Richard announces that they have inadvertently walked back to... (full context)
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...day Tom Jarndyce shot himself in the public house opposite the shop. Esther notices that Ada and Richard have gone pale, and is glad that she has nothing to do with... (full context)
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...comments on their strange experience and laments what great trouble Jarndyce and Jarndyce has caused. Ada agrees and thinks that it is sad that she was born into a feud, in... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Esther, Richard, and Ada make their way to Mr. Jarndyce’s house, but a passing coach stops their carriage, and... (full context)
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...that the furniture comes from all over the world and is terribly mismatched. Esther and Ada have rooms next to each other, joined by a beautiful sitting room. Mr. Jarndyce explains... (full context)
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After dinner, the group retires to the drawing room. Ada sings and plays the piano, and Esther and Mr. Jarndyce notice that Richard watches Ada... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Ada and Esther settle into their new life at Bleak House. They spend time with a... (full context)
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...her visits and philanthropic missions, for which she has inexhaustible energy. She tells Esther and Ada that she expects them to join her on one of these visits and, despite Esther’s... (full context)
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Ada and Esther feel terribly uncomfortable and the family takes no notice of Mrs. Pardiggle, who... (full context)
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...woman enters the hut and rushes to the mother, addressing her as “Jenny.” Esther and Ada leave the women to their grief. On the way home they meet Richard. He is... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...House and Esther notices that Richard grows restless. She also notices, however, that he and Ada are especially close, even though the three of them spend most of their time as... (full context)
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...is bad with money. She is very fond of him and enjoys watching him and Ada as the pair fall in love. One morning, Mr. Jarndyce receives a letter from his... (full context)
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Mr. Boythorn arrives later, after some difficulty with his carriage, and Esther, Ada, and Richard find him very endearing. He is a boisterous, yet kindhearted gentleman whose aggressive... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...agrees to take him to the city the next week, and to take Esther and Ada along for a holiday. (full context)
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Esther notices towards the end of their stay in London that Ada and Richard have been unusually quiet. Richard is set to remain behind in London, while... (full context)
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Richard comes into the room, and he and Ada ask Esther if she will speak to Mr. Jarndyce for them. They realize that they... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce congratulates Richard and Ada but cautions them against getting married too young. He tells them both, however, that he... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Before Richard leaves for his apprenticeship, he and Ada agree that Esther should live with them after the marriage. Richard jokes that they may... (full context)
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A short while before they leave London, Caddy comes to visit Ada and Esther and brings Peepy with her. She tells them that Mrs. Jellyby is as... (full context)
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...been ill because of the shock. As they pass Nemo’s door, Esther feels a shiver. Ada and Mr. Jarndyce are with Miss Flite when Esther and Caddy arrive. A doctor, Mr.... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Richard often visits Esther and Ada, and he seems very cheerful. Esther thinks it is a shame, however, that Richard has... (full context)
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...Richard does not have the patience or dedication required to make a success of himself. Ada anxiously asks if Mr. Badger agrees. and Mr. Badger says that he trusts Mrs. Badger’s... (full context)
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The next evening, Richard comes to visit Esther and Ada, and they tell him what the Badgers said. Richard seems unconcerned and admits that he... (full context)
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...been to see Mr. Kenge to find out how Jarndyce and Jarndyce progresses. Esther and Ada are worried that he will pin his hopes on the case, but Richard assures them... (full context)
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Esther and Ada encourage him to tell Mr. Jarndyce about this change of profession and Richard agrees. Mr.... (full context)
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...at Miss Flite’s house by someone who was in a rush to board a ship. Ada teases Esther when she hears this. (full context)
Chapter 18
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...is no more he can do, Mr. Jarndyce reluctantly leaves Richard to it and takes Ada, Esther, and Mr. Skimpole to visit Mr. Boythorn. (full context)
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Ada, Esther, and Mr. Jarndyce often go for walks in the grounds. One day, when they... (full context)
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...wrote to Sir Leicester about. Mr. Jarndyce thanks her and introduces her to Esther and Ada. She greets Ada politely but seems to dislike Esther. Esther, who is fascinated by Lady... (full context)
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...scowl, takes off her shoes and begins to march back towards the house. Esther and Ada watch her go, confused. The groundskeeper laughs when he sees this and tells them that... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...also announces that he has gone into debt. He feels that he is unworthy of Ada, but Esther assures him this is not true. (full context)
Chapter 24
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...Mr. Jarndyce has contacted Richard to ask him to temporarily break off his engagement with Ada. Richard is furious with him, but Mr. Jarndyce insists that since Richard is in debt,... (full context)
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...does not trust him, but Mr. Jarndyce insists that he acts with both Richard and Ada’s best interests in mind. Ada is shocked by proceedings but clearly trusts Mr. Jarndyce’s intentions.... (full context)
Chapter 30
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When Esther, Ada, and Mr. Jarndyce return to Lincolnshire, Mrs. Woodcourt comes to visit them. She takes an... (full context)
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After Mrs. Woodcourt’s departure, Caddy comes to stay and asks Ada and Esther to help her plan her wedding and to be her bridesmaids. Mr. Jellyby... (full context)
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On the evening before Caddy’s wedding, Esther and Ada go with her to Mrs. Jellyby’s and try to make the house, and Mrs. Jellyby... (full context)
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...asks her guardian if he approves of the marriage. Mr. Jarndyce assures her he does. Ada agrees, and Esther is very happy for Caddy and Prince. (full context)
Chapter 31
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...a fever. Esther immediately locks herself and Charley in the room and refuses to let Ada in. She nurses Charley for several weeks until, eventually, the girl recovers. Esther falls ill,... (full context)
Chapter 35
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...lies sick and delirious with fever for several weeks. Charley takes care of her, and Ada is strictly kept out of the room. Esther dreams strange dreams during her illness and... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce tells Esther that she will soon be strong enough to see Ada again, and tells her of the many well-wishers she has had during her delirium. Mr.... (full context)
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...be surrounded by so many people who care for her. She resumes her talks with Ada through the window, but she is too anxious to pull back the curtain and show... (full context)
Chapter 36
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...his flowers but decides to dispense with all romantic notions and to remember him fondly. Ada plans to join Esther and Charley in a few days, and Esther wants to be... (full context)
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When Esther arrives home, however, she has a letter from Ada. This note is full of kind words, and Esther remembers how loved she is and... (full context)
Chapter 37
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Esther does not tell Ada about her discovery out of respect for Lady Dedlock’s secret. However, Ada is very curious... (full context)
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...Mr. Skimpole back to Mr. Boythorn’s house and shows Richard into the living room where Ada is seated. Ada is very pleased to see him, and Esther can see that she... (full context)
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...Mr. Jarndyce has written to him, but he wishes to keep this a secret from Ada as he does not want to draw her into any unpleasantness. Esther commends this in... (full context)
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...seem to listen to anything she says. Richard leaves that afternoon, and Esther confides in Ada about her fears about Richard’s future. (full context)
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Ada writes Richard a letter and tells him that he has inadvertently wronged Mr. Jarndyce. She... (full context)
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Richard and Ada join them, but Richard hurries off again to meet a man who approaches across the... (full context)
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...this news and rushes away with Mr. Vholes as soon as he can. Esther and Ada are very uncomfortable to see him go, and Mr. Skimpole remains behind with them for... (full context)
Chapter 43
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...mention of her in fashionable circles. Meanwhile, Mr. Jarndyce’s worry over Richard increases and, although Ada implores him to be patient with her beloved, Mr. Jarndyce writes to him often to... (full context)
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Ada and Esther beg Mr. Jarndyce to speak with Mr. Skimpole, who is often with Richard,... (full context)
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...Mr. Jarndyce and mentions that his Lady has told him that she met Esther and Ada in the grounds. With that, Sir Leicester takes his leave. (full context)
Chapter 45
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A few days later, as Esther and Ada walk around the garden, Esther notices Mr. Vholes on his way to the house. She... (full context)
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Ada, Esther, Charley, and Mr. Jarndyce take rooms in London, and Esther and Charley drive out... (full context)
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Esther gives Richard a letter from Ada which begs him to accept her small inheritance to pay his debts. Richard breaks down... (full context)
Chapter 50
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Ada often comes to visit Caddy, as does Mrs. Jellyby—although she only talks about her mission... (full context)
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Around this time, Esther notices that there is a new distance between herself and Ada. Esther wonders if Ada is upset because of the new relationship between herself and Mr.... (full context)
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Ada sits in the corner and watches Esther during this conversation and Esther is startled to... (full context)
Chapter 51
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...tells him that he is not concerned for himself but that he is worried because Ada’s fortunes are bound up with his own. Mr. Woodcourt reports this to Esther and takes... (full context)
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One morning, Esther suggests that she and Ada visit Richard and is surprised to find Ada a little hesitant to do so. At... (full context)
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...has been poring over his papers from Jarndyce and Jarndyce but is pleased to see Ada and Esther. He tells them that, with Mr. Vholes’ help, the case comes along well,... (full context)
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Ada begins to cry again and reveals to Esther that she and Richard have been married... (full context)
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Ada intends to remain with Richard and not go back to Mr. Jarndyce’s house, and Esther... (full context)
Chapter 60
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...London, and Mr. Jarndyce says that they should stay there for a time. They see Ada every day and hear reports from Mr. Woodcourt every few days on the state of... (full context)
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Esther goes to visit Ada every day during this time. She lives with Richard in his gloomy lodgings, and her... (full context)
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...birds to her aviary. She has called them “The Wards in Jarndyce” after Richard and Ada, and they live in the cage with all the others that are named things like... (full context)
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Mr. Vholes arrives at Richard’s a few minutes after Esther gets there, and while Ada and Richard prepare the food, he asks to speak with Esther in private. Mr. Vholes... (full context)
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...is irritable and sullen over dinner, although he tries to be merry for Esther and Ada’s sake. Mr. Vholes leaves immediately after dinner and Richard goes with him. When he returns,... (full context)
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Ada and Esther sit together while the men are out and Esther notices that her friend... (full context)
Chapter 61
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...also visits Richard regularly, and Esther can see that he is bad influence and that Ada is troubled by his presence. She goes to visit Mr. Skimpole in secret and tells... (full context)
Chapter 62
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...for Mr. Guppy and sends him to inform Mr. Vholes. He says that Richard and Ada’s fortunes will be made by this and rebukes Mr. Jarndyce for his lack of faith... (full context)
Chapter 65
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 67
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Esther has been the “mistress of Bleak House” for seven years. Ada gives birth to a healthy baby, and the child helps her survive her grief for... (full context)