Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

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Captain Hawdon / Nemo Character Analysis

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 attended by George, who now runs a shooting gallery near the court and who becomes involved in the Dedlock mystery when Mr. Tulkinghorn, Lady Dedlock’s lawyer, blackmails him into providing a sample of Captain Hawdon’s handwriting in an effort to discover her secret. It is not clear what has happened to Captain Hawdon since his days in the army, but George implies that Captain Hawdon went into debt and ruined himself and was often suicidal over the failure he considered himself to have become. Although George believes that Captain Hawdon is dead, he has, in fact, changed his name to Nemo and taken work as a law writer for Mr. Snagsby, who runs a stationer’s shop near the Chancery court. Under the guise of Nemo, Captain Hawdon lives in Krook’s shop and is very poor and addicted to opium. He is clearly a kind man, who was once noble and optimistic. He often gives money to Jo, the homeless urchin who sweeps the streets outside of Chancery. Nemo is known in the area as a mysterious man, who works all hours and is rumored to have sold his soul to the devil. He eventually dies of an opium overdose before he can learn that Lady Dedlock had a child or that Esther Summerson, his daughter, is alive. He is buried in a pauper’s grave in a slum called Tom-all-Alone’s, and Lady Dedlock returns to visit his grave in secret, where she dies of exposure.

Captain Hawdon / Nemo Quotes in Bleak House

The Bleak House quotes below are all either spoken by Captain Hawdon / Nemo or refer to Captain Hawdon / Nemo. 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 3 Quotes

‘Submission, self-denial, diligent work, are the preparations for a life begun with such a shadow on it. You are different from other children, Esther, because you were not born, like them, in common sinfulness and wrath. You are set apart.’

Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 36 Quotes

Even in the thinking of her endurance, she drew her habitual air of proud indifference about her like a veil, though she soon cast it off again.
‘I must keep this secret, if by any means it can be kept, not wholly for myself. I have a husband, wretched and dishonoring creature that I am!’

Related Characters: Esther Summerson (speaker), Lady Dedlock (speaker), Sir Leicester Dedlock, Captain Hawdon / Nemo
Page Number: 436
Explanation and Analysis:

‘I dread one person very much.’
‘An enemy?’
‘Not a friend. One who is too passionless to be either. He is Sir Leicester Dedlock’s lawyer; mechanically faithful without attachment, and very jealous of the profit, privilege, and reputation of being master of the mysteries of great houses.’

Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 437
Explanation and Analysis:

‘I am resolved. I have long outbidden folly with folly, pride with pride, scorn with scorn, insolence with insolence, and have outlived many vanities with many more. I will outlive this danger, and outdie it, if I can. It has closed around me, almost as awfully as if these woods of Chesney Wold had closed around the house; but my course through it is the same. I have but one: I can have but one.’

Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 437-438
Explanation and Analysis:
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Captain Hawdon / Nemo Character Timeline in Bleak House

The timeline below shows where the character Captain Hawdon / Nemo appears in Bleak House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...heaps of old law papers. There is also an advertisement for a copy writer named “Nemo,” who performs written work. (full context)
Chapter 10
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...checks his book and finds that it was copied by a law writer known as “Nemo,” who lives nearby. (full context)
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...her that Mr. Tulkinghorn is an important client. Mr. Tulkinghorn asks where he can find Nemo, and Mr. Snagsby agrees to lead him to Krook’s shop, where Nemo lives. On the... (full context)
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...leave the street, but then turns back and enters Krook’s shop. Krook directs him to Nemo’s room and warns Mr. Tulkinghorn that Nemo is a wicked man who has sold his... (full context)
Chapter 11
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...him on the stairs. When he returns and they enter the room, they discover that Nemo is dead. Krook sends Miss Flite for a doctor and two medical men return with... (full context)
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Krook complains that Nemo owes him several weeks’ rent. The young surgeon says that he saw Nemo when he... (full context)
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...work. Mr. Tulkinghorn asks Krook to look over the room for any important papers that Nemo may have kept, but Krook tells him that he cannot read. (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...crowds, who begin to lose interest and drift off. The beadle concludes his work in Nemo’s apartment, where the body still lies and where a coffin is now placed. No one... (full context)
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
...which Mr. Tulkinghorn attends. A neighbor named Mrs. Piper, who has been very suspicious of Nemo because of the rumor that he sold himself to the devil, presents evidence. She tells... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
...himself—he is an orphan with no home and no education—and cannot tell them anything about Nemo except that he was a poor, friendless man who was always kind to Jo and... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
At Mr. Snagsby’s shop, Guster has seizures all night and keeps the household awake. Meanwhile, Nemo’s body is taken to a crowded cemetery. It is a filthy, unhygienic place where people... (full context)
Chapter 14
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...died, and that Miss Flite has 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... (full context)
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Miss Flite tells them that she has been very anxious and disturbed ever since Nemo’s death, and Mr. Woodcourt agrees this is the case. He has kindly been treating her... (full context)
Chapter 16
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...and beckons him to follow her. Once out of sight, the woman asks Jo about Nemo’s inquest and what he knows of the death. She asks him to show her Nemo’s... (full context)
Chapter 19
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...that a mysterious lady gave him the money to show her the burial ground where Nemo was interred. (full context)
Chapter 21
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
...him why, and George says that Mr. Smallweed lied to him; he told him that Captain Hawdon was about to receive a large inheritance, when, really, he was deeply in debt. Mr.... (full context)
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Mr. Smallweed feels that Captain Hawdon has tricked him, and he grows angry as he thinks about this. George says that... (full context)
Chapter 26
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...because he has been approached by a lawyer who is looking for a sample of Captain Hawdon ’s handwriting. Mr. Smallweed thinks George may have one and asks if he will bring... (full context)
Chapter 27
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...Smallweed introduces him to George. Mr. Tulkinghorn explains to George that knows he was in Captain Hawdon ’s service while the Captain was ill. He says that he will give George a... (full context)
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...he will not damage the Captain’s reputation. George says he knows this is true because Captain Hawdon is deceased. Mr. Tulkinghorn seems surprised at this and George grows more confused and says... (full context)
Chapter 29
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...with cold fury as he explains that a bundle of letters has been found in Captain Hawdon ’s room, and that the letters will be given to him the next night. He... (full context)
Chapter 32
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...surprising given the room he lives in and what happened there. Mr. Snagsby remarks that Nemo was one of his writers, and now Mr. Weevle is too; he says it has... (full context)
Chapter 33
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
An inquest will be held for Krook, just as an inquest was held for Nemo, and Krook’s death is also the talk of the street. Mr. Guppy and Mr. Weevle... (full context)
Chapter 34
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...friends, and so he tells Mr. Tulkinghorn that he will give him the sample of Captain Hawdon ’s handwriting. (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...from his pocket. It is nothing but a list of instructions, sent to him by Captain Hawdon . Mr. Tulkinghorn takes the letter, but his face does not reveal if he is... (full context)
Chapter 47
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
...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... (full context)
Chapter 54
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...bore a grudge against Lady Dedlock. Mr. Bucket further explains Lady Dedlock’s trip to see Captain Hawdon ’s grave, her love affair with the captain before her marriage, and Mr. Tulkinghorn’s knowledge... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...his brother-in-law, Krook, had a bundle of letters from a lady named Honoria to a Captain Hawdon . Mr. Smallweed complains that he had paid for them but never received them and... (full context)
Chapter 59
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...looked exhausted, and showed her the way. Guster remembers that this is the place where Captain Hawdon was buried and grows upset until Mrs. Snagsby comforts her. (full context)
Chapter 63
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
...her that, a long time ago, he was given a letter for her mother from Captain Hawdon , with whom the trooper served. George then gave this letter to Mr. Tulkinghorn but... (full context)