Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

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Esther Summerson Character Analysis

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 in secret, before her marriage. Esther’s father is Captain Hawdon, whom Lady Dedlock had a brief love affair with. Lady Dedlock thinks that Esther died at birth but, really, Esther was raised in secret by Lady Dedlock’s sister, Miss Barbary. Esther is a naturally loving child who seeks acceptance and friendship. Miss Barbary is cruel to her, however, and Esther’s childhood is lonely until her aunt’s death. Miss Barbary blames Esther for her mother’s “sin”—her conception of an illegitimate child—and for the fact that Miss Barbary broke off an engagement to raise Esther. This sense of shame and guilt for her own existence makes Esther insecure, and as an adult, she is always shocked and grateful when people care for her as much as she cares for them. Esther is the ward of Mr. Jarndyce and the companion of Ada and Richard, two wards of the court. Throughout the novel, she is a noble and selfless friend and often puts the needs of others before her own. She is generous and willing to help others and is very compassionate when she sees people in need. Esther is also modest and does not expect praise or rewards for her acts of kindness. Esther is a homemaker, is very good with children, and is associated with an ideal feminine figure throughout the novel, in contrast to poor homemakers such as Mrs. Jellyby. Despite Esther’s virtuous and giving nature, she is not naïve, and although she tries to give people the benefit of the doubt, she sees through the visage of selfish characters, like Mr. Skimpole, who pretend to be charitable but who are, in fact, only out for themselves. Esther is rewarded for her kindness and loyalty when her true love, Mr. Woodcourt, proposes to her. Her name, Summerson, is associated with youth, beauty, and warmth.

Esther Summerson Quotes in Bleak House

The Bleak House quotes below are all either spoken by Esther Summerson or refer to Esther Summerson. 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 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 13 Quotes

‘How much of this indecision of character,’ Mr Jarndyce said to me, ‘is chargeable on that incomprehensible heap of uncertainty and procrastination on which he has been thrown from his birth, I don’t pretend to say; but that Chancery, among its other sins, is responsible for some of it, I can plainly see. It has engendered or confirmed in him a habit of putting off—and trusting to this, that, and the other chance, without knowing what chance—and dismissing everything as unsettled, uncertain, and confused.’

Related Characters: Mr. Jarndyce (speaker), Esther Summerson, Richard Carstone
Page Number: 143
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 35 Quotes

What should I have suffered, if I had had to write to him, and tell him that the poor face he had known as mine was quite gone from me, and that I freely released him from his bondage to one whom he had never seen!

Related Characters: Esther Summerson (speaker), Mr. Jarndyce, Jo, Mr. Woodcourt
Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 429
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:

The way was paved here, like the terrace overhead, and my footsteps from being noiseless made an echoing sound upon the flags. Stopping to look at nothing, but seeing all I did see as I went, I was passing quickly on, and in a few moments should have passed the lighted window, when my echoing footsteps brought it suddenly into my mind that there was a dreadful truth in the legend of the Ghost’s Walk; that it was I, who was to bring calamity upon the stately house; and that my warning feet were haunting it even then.

Related Characters: Esther Summerson (speaker), Lady Dedlock, Sir Leicester Dedlock
Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 440
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:
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Esther Summerson Character Timeline in Bleak House

The timeline below shows where the character Esther Summerson appears in Bleak House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
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Esther Summerson is a timid, friendless girl and confides all her secrets in her favorite doll,... (full context)
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Despite this, Esther is an affectionate child and longs to be accepted. One year, on her birthday, her... (full context)
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Not long after this, Esther comes home from school to find her godmother in discussion with a smart-looking gentleman. Her... (full context)
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One night, two years later, Esther is reading the Bible to her godmother when she comes to the passage in which... (full context)
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...after Miss Barbary’s funeral, the smart-looking man visits the house again and asks to see Esther. The man introduces himself as Mr. Kenge and seems to know Mrs. Rachael, Miss Barbary’s... (full context)
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Mr. Kenge informs Esther that a gentleman named Mr. Jarndyce will provide for her education, and that she is... (full context)
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In the coach, Esther finds herself alone with a gentleman who is wrapped up in furs and who ignores... (full context)
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Esther arrives at Greenleaf school. She settles in quickly and is very happy there. She is... (full context)
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Esther is delighted at the prospect of this new position, and although she is sad to... (full context)
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Esther waits in Mr. Kenge’s office for several hours. At last, Mr. Kenge appears and takes... (full context)
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...for the outcome of Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Ada and Richard, it appears, are related, but Esther is from another family and is only hired to be a companion to Ada. The... (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 each other’s... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...coffee beans. They set out in a carriage with Mr. Guppy, the clerk who met Esther earlier that day. He is talkative and jokes a little with Esther as he drives... (full context)
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...a crowd of people around a young boy whose head is stuck in some railings. Esther jumps out of the carriage, hurries to the boy’s aid, and manages to free him.... (full context)
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...who shows them up to Mrs. Jellyby’s room. Mrs. Jellyby greets the group placidly, and Esther notices that Mrs. Jellyby has a strange, faraway look in her eye and that her... (full context)
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...fell down the stairs comes in crying, and Mrs. Jellyby tries to send him away. Esther finally picks up the child, whose name is Peepy, and he falls asleep in her... (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... (full context)
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When Esther and Ada return to their room that night, they begin to talk about their guardian,... (full context)
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Ada falls asleep quickly, but Esther lies awake. Caddy comes to the door to say goodnight, so Esther invites her in.... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...morning, Caddy suggests that the group go for a walk before Mrs. Jellyby gets up. Esther washes Peepy, who has appeared in her room very early, and puts him back to... (full context)
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Richard and Ada catch up with Esther and Caddy. Richard announces that they have inadvertently walked back to Chancery, and that the... (full context)
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...horror, that one 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... (full context)
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...some papers. He has written a capital letter in chalk upon the wall. He stops Esther as she goes by and asks her to read what he has written. She tells... (full context)
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...says cheerily that he will never allow the case to make them enemies. Caddy squeezes Esther’s arm knowingly as they make their way back to Mrs. Jellyby’s. From here, Esther, Richard,... (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... (full context)
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...are all careful not to thank Mr. Jarndyce as they make themselves at home and Esther realizes privately that Mr. Jarndyce is the man she met in the coach when she... (full context)
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...proportioned, and 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.... (full context)
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Downstairs at dinner, they are introduced to Mr. Skimpole. Esther is struck by his appearance and thinks that he looks like a young man who... (full context)
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...dinner, the group retires to the drawing room. Ada sings and plays the piano, and Esther and Mr. Jarndyce notice that Richard watches Ada closely. After a while, Esther observes that... (full context)
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...The man who has come to arrest him sits on the sofa in the room. Esther asks Mr. Skimpole how much he owes, and he tells her that it is a... (full context)
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...he can cover the debt, but the debt collector is not impressed with this idea. Esther agrees to pay for Mr. Skimpole with the small amount of money that she has... (full context)
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The group returns to the drawing room, and Esther is amazed at the ease with which Mr. Skimpole slips back into his entertaining manner.... (full context)
Chapter 8
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The next morning, at Mr. Jarndyce’s house, Esther explores the grounds and begins her housekeeping duties. After breakfast—at which, she notes, Mr. Skimpole... (full context)
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Esther remarks on what a transformation Mr. Jarndyce has produced in Bleak House, and Mr. Jarndyce... (full context)
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Ada and Esther settle into their new life at Bleak House. They spend time with a circle of... (full context)
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...on all 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,... (full context)
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On the way to the brickmaker’s house, Esther attempts to talk to Mrs. Pardiggle’s children. The eldest child bitterly complains that his mother... (full context)
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Ada and Esther feel terribly uncomfortable and the family takes no notice of Mrs. Pardiggle, who reads in... (full context)
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Esther takes the baby from the woman and covers it gently with a handkerchief. Another woman... (full context)
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...room—Jenny is asleep on the bed—but the baby’s clothes have been changed and cleaned, and Esther thinks that it looks like an angel sleeping there. (full context)
Chapter 9
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Life continues at Bleak House and Esther notices that Richard grows restless. She also notices, however, that he and Ada are especially... (full context)
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Esther observes that Richard is an honest and generous young man, but that he is bad... (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... (full context)
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...he says that he will write to Kenge and Carboy the next day. After dinner, Esther discusses Mr. Boythorn with Mr. Jarndyce and learns that Mr. Boythorn was once engaged to... (full context)
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...they receive word that a clerk from Kenge and Carboy will visit them that afternoon. Esther is alone in her study when Mr. Guppy is shown in. He is very smartly... (full context)
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Mr. Guppy tells Esther that he earns a good salary at Kenge and Carboy, that he owns a little... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...Mr. Jarndyce 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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They take an apartment in London and Esther is excited to explore the city. She is dismayed, however, to find that Mr. Guppy... (full context)
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Esther notices towards the end of their stay in London that Ada and Richard have been... (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 are too... (full context)
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...nowhere without hard work, then sends the young couple away with his blessing. He and Esther watch them go but, as they pass down the corridor from his room, the sun... (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 be rich by... (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 chaotic as... (full context)
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...in secret at Miss Flite’s room, and Caddy has grown fond of the old woman. Esther agrees to go with her to the dance studio the next day to be introduced... (full context)
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While Prince begins the dance lesson, a woman who has brought in two pupils tells Esther that Mr. Turveydrop takes all the credit for his son’s work and that he worked... (full context)
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During the lesson, Mr. Turveydrop approaches Esther and begins to charm her with his elegant conversation. He complains to her that society... (full context)
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...the day. He affectionately bids the older man, and then Caddy, farewell and hurries off. Esther likes Prince a lot but feels quite baffled by his father, who appears so regal... (full context)
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On their way, Caddy tells Esther that Prince worked for his father through his childhood and, consequently, cannot read and write... (full context)
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As they arrive at Krook’s, Caddy tells Esther that the other lodger has died, and that Miss Flite has been ill because of... (full context)
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...believes that this is compensation for the length of her trial. As she says this, Esther looks at Mr. Jarndyce and knows that he has arranged this. (full context)
Chapter 15
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...in London, the party spends a great deal of time with Mr. Jarndyce’s philanthropic acquaintances. Esther notices that they perform their duties and carry on their causes noisily and are not... (full context)
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...live in Bell Yard. There, an elderly and ill-looking woman greets the group. She gives Esther a key and directs her to the top of the house, which is split into... (full context)
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Esther unlocks the room at the top and discovers a small boy who cradles a baby... (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... (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... (full context)
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...he has 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... (full context)
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Esther and Ada encourage him to tell Mr. Jarndyce about this change of profession and Richard... (full context)
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Esther sits down with him and asks him what is wrong. Mr. Jarndyce says that she... (full context)
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...further insinuates that her son must marry someone who is of high social standing and Esther wonders why she feels the need to mention this. Mr. Woodcourt also seems a little... (full context)
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Esther keeps herself busy for the rest of the day and is surprised when Caddy comes... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...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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...day is Sunday, and the party attends the local church. The community is small, and Esther observes the congregants as the pews fill up. She notices a very pretty servant girl... (full context)
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Esther thinks that Lady Dedlock looks like her godmother, and, also, that she looks a little... (full context)
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Ada, Esther, and Mr. Jarndyce often go for walks in the grounds. One day, when they are... (full context)
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...Mr. Jarndyce 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... (full context)
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...concedes that he did. As they wait, a carriage approaches the hut. The Frenchwoman, whom Esther saw in church, gets out, followed by the pretty handmaiden. Lady Dedlock is indignant with... (full context)
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...cold, furious 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... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...tells him that, before her marriage, she was the maid of a young child, named Esther Summerson, who was sent by Kenge and Carboy’s. (full context)
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Mr. Guppy announces that he, too, knows Esther and begins to ingratiate himself to Mrs. Chadband. Mr. Chadband then begins to soliloquize on... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Esther does not see Lady Dedlock again while she is at Mr. Boythorn’s, except in church... (full context)
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Mademoiselle Hortense greets Esther passionately and begs her to employ her as a maid. She complains that Lady Dedlock... (full context)
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...the mystery. He spends his days at the court, often accompanied by Miss Flite. When Esther is alone with Richard, she asks him if he feels “settled” in his career now,... (full context)
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Richard then tells Esther that he has decided to quit the law and to go into the army instead.... (full context)
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They find Mr. Turveydrop in his rooms, and Caddy and Prince kneel before him while Esther watches. When Prince tells his father of his engagement, Mr. Turveydrop bursts into tears and... (full context)
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Caddy is amazed by her father-in-law’s generosity and she and Esther set off to tell Mrs. Jellyby of the engagement. When they arrive, they find that... (full context)
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...she likes and immediately goes back to sorting her letters. Caddy begins to cry, and Esther is shocked by Mrs. Jellyby’s total indifference. Mrs. Jellyby tells Caddy that she is being... (full context)
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Esther leads Caddy downstairs, where they find the children playing on the floor. Esther comforts Caddy,... (full context)
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When Esther goes to her room, she finds Charley there. Charley explains that she has been hired... (full context)
Chapter 24
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One morning, in London, when Esther and Mr. Jarndyce have gone to visit Richard, they meet his combat instructor, George. Mr.... (full context)
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...suggests that, before he leaves, they visit the court for news of Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Esther goes with him, but Mr. Jarndyce refuses to come. Esther is struck by the contrast... (full context)
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Esther notices Mr. Guppy in the court and wishes to escape. As Richard leads her out,... (full context)
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...them quietly if they know a mad old lady who sits in the court, and Esther directs him to Miss Flite. George says that Gridley is hidden at his gallery and... (full context)
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...realize that Gridley has died. The sun sets, and as Richard leaves for the army, Esther’s heart feels heavy and sad. (full context)
Chapter 29
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...Guppy whips out a sheet of notes and stammeringly asks Lady Dedlock if she knows Esther Summerson. (full context)
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...the girl once. Mr. Guppy asks if Lady Dedlock noticed the resemblance between herself and Esther and Lady Dedlock replies in a steely tone that she did not. Mr. Guppy nervously... (full context)
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Mr. Guppy continues that he has fallen in love with Esther and wishes to help her solve the mystery of her birth. Mr. Guppy says that... (full context)
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Mr. Guppy then explains that Miss Barbary admitted to his acquaintance that Esther’s real name is not Summerson, but Hawdon. Lady Dedlock utters an exclamation but recovers her... (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... (full context)
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Mrs. Woodcourt then asks Esther if she intends to marry and, when Esther expresses surprise, Mrs. Woodcourt predicts that Esther... (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 has recovered... (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... (full context)
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Esther is shocked by the blasé attitude of Mr. Turveydrop and Mrs. Jellyby but is even... (full context)
Chapter 31
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One evening, when Esther has finished Charley’s lessons for the night, Charley asks her if she knows a brickmaker’s... (full context)
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It is a wet, blustery night and already dark when Charley and Esther set out to Jenny’s. As Esther walks there, she has the surreal feeling that she... (full context)
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...to calm Jo and tells him that this lady is a friend. Jo admits that Esther is not the lady that he fears, but that she looks like her. Charley, who... (full context)
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Jenny tells Esther that Liz has gone out to see if anyone will take Jo in; he cannot... (full context)
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Esther keeps her distance, but beckons Jo towards Mr. Jarndyce’s house so that he will not... (full context)
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...as this would be more poetic. Mr. Skimpole then launches into a philosophical debate, but Esther reminds them that Jo needs immediate care. Mr. Jarndyce says that Jo can sleep in... (full context)
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...Skimpole entertains them for the rest of the evening with songs about a “peasant boy.” Esther wakes early the next morning when she hears noise outside her window. She leans out... (full context)
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...can find no trace of him. A few nights later, Charley feels cold and tells Esther that she thinks she has a fever. Esther immediately locks herself and Charley in the... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Esther lies sick and delirious with fever for several weeks. Charley takes care of her, and... (full context)
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During this tea, Esther looks around her room and finds things are a little different. She asks Charley what... (full context)
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Later that day, Mr. Jarndyce comes in, and Esther is relieved that he treats her the same as always and is overjoyed to see... (full context)
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Esther is shocked to hear this and asks Mr. Jarndyce if Richard suspects him of thwarting... (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... (full context)
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Esther is touched to be surrounded by so many people who care for her. She resumes... (full context)
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Esther asks if the woman’s name was Jenny, and Miss Flite confirms that it was. Charley... (full context)
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Esther cannot explain this but thinks that the woman may be Caddy. Miss Flite suggests that... (full context)
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Miss Flite seems very anxious about her judgement and Esther, seeing her distress, suggests that she should give up the case. Miss Flite says that... (full context)
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...She can spot the beginnings of this madness in people, she says, and confides in Esther that she sees them now in Richard’s face. (full context)
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Esther feels uncomfortable about this, and Miss Flite says that, when her judgement is finally delivered,... (full context)
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Miss Flite says that Mr. Woodcourt deserves a title, but Esther skeptically says that he will not receive one for generous deeds which help ordinary people.... (full context)
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Esther gets used to the idea that her face has changed. Her only regret is that... (full context)
Chapter 36
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Esther and Charley travel together to Mr. Boythorn’s house in Lincolnshire. Mr. Boythorn is away, so... (full context)
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The only consideration which bothers Esther is the thought of Mr. Woodcourt and how he will take the change. She has... (full context)
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The villagers are friendly with Esther, and she and Charley find that they are never short of company. Esther’s favorite place... (full context)
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One day, while Esther sits in her favorite spot, she notices a figure coming towards her and is shocked... (full context)
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When Charley has left them, Lady Dedlock sits down beside Esther and Esther is amazed when Lady Dedlock produces the handkerchief, which she left with Jenny.... (full context)
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Esther asks if anyone knows the secret and Lady Dedlock replies that she dreads that one... (full context)
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Esther walks home slowly, stunned by her ordeal, and hides her tears from Charley. She tells... (full context)
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That evening, after dark, Esther goes out walking alone and walks through the Dedlock cemetery behind Chesney Wold. She wanders... (full context)
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When Esther arrives home, however, she has a letter from Ada. This note is full of kind... (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,... (full context)
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Mr. Grubble leads her into a back room where Esther is surprised to find Richard. Richard tells her that he has come down on his... (full context)
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Esther is distressed to find that Mr. Skimpole encourages Richard in his Chancery suit because he... (full context)
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The next morning, Esther and Richard walk in the grounds and Richards tells her that when the lawsuit is... (full context)
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Esther reprimands Richard and asks him to remember Mr. Jarndyce’s generosity. Richard seems a little ashamed,... (full context)
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Esther asks Richard if he has any debts. Richard says that he has, but that he... (full context)
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Mr. Skimpole often comes with Richard and, one morning, Esther takes him aside and attempts to talk him into being responsible for Richard. She wants... (full context)
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...to Richard because Mr. Vholes paid him to. Richard introduces Mr. Vholes to them, and Esther observes that he looks “lifeless.” (full context)
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...to hear 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... (full context)
Chapter 38
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Esther returns to Bleak House and immediately travels up to London to visit Caddy and Prince.... (full context)
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Caddy is also learning to dance and play the piano, and she and Esther attend a dance class together with the apprentices. After this, Prince goes out to teach... (full context)
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Esther takes Caddy with her to Mr. Guppy’s house and is invited in by Mrs. Guppy,... (full context)
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Esther tells Mr. Guppy that she does not want him to investigate her past, and she... (full context)
Chapter 43
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Although Esther can never speak to her mother again, she thinks about her often, looks for any... (full context)
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Ada and Esther beg Mr. Jarndyce to speak with Mr. Skimpole, who is often with Richard, and who... (full context)
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...that this isn’t true. Mr. Skimpole agrees and seems so utterly helpless and innocent that Esther cannot believe that Mr. Skimpole contrives to use Richard. (full context)
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...house. Mr. Skimpole says that he cannot bear these things which will ruin his mood. Esther thinks it a shame that Mrs. Skimpole will be left to deal with the baker. (full context)
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...Leicester Dedlock is announced, much to everybody’s amazement, and he is shown into the room. Esther is stunned and is barely aware of herself as Mr. Jarndyce introduces her. Sir Leicester... (full context)
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...regards to 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)
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Esther is shaken by this encounter and is worried that she may be made a guest... (full context)
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Esther asks why Mr. Boythorn and Miss Barbary separated. Mr. Jarndyce says that he doesn’t know,... (full context)
Chapter 44
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The next morning, Esther goes to Mr. Jarndyce again. He asks her if anyone knows her secret, and Esther... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce tells Esther that he has a proposition for her but that he would like to make it... (full context)
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A few nights later, Esther sends Charley to Mr. Jarndyce’s room, and the girl returns with the note. Esther thinks... (full context)
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Esther is overcome with gratitude and knows that she will accept Mr. Jarndyce’s offer. However, despite... (full context)
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The next day, Esther finds that Mr. Jarndyce treats her as he always does. She waits for him to... (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... (full context)
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...will allow him to pay his fees, and Mr. Vholes accepts this. Mr. Jarndyce asks Esther to write to Richard, however, to see if Richard will accept his help. Mr. Vholes... (full context)
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Ada, Esther, Charley, and Mr. Jarndyce take rooms in London, and Esther and Charley drive out to... (full context)
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Esther gives Richard a letter from Ada which begs him to accept her small inheritance to... (full context)
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Esther and Charley walk around the port that afternoon and come across a boat which has... (full context)
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Esther talks to Mr. Woodcourt about his travels and tells him how Miss Flite gets on.... (full context)
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...hurries off to put his luggage in the carriage. Mr. Woodcourt expresses his concerns to Esther and says that Richard has a strange, singular expression on his face. Esther asks Mr.... (full context)
Chapter 47
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...takes Jo for a bath, George and Mr. Woodcourt talk of their mutual acquaintance with Esther and seem to approve of each other. George tells Mr. Woodcourt that the man Mr.... (full context)
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...very ill. Phil and George take good care of him, many people come to visit. Esther, Mr. Jarndyce, and Mr. Snagsby all come to see Jo, but he is confused and... (full context)
Chapter 50
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Esther hears that Caddy, who has recently given birth to a little girl, is ill and... (full context)
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...only talks about her mission during these visits. Mr. Turveydrop is also very attentive, but Esther notices that the household is strictly arranged according to his pleasure and that the utmost... (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... (full context)
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Ada sits in the corner and watches Esther during this conversation and Esther is startled to see that she begins to cry. Esther... (full context)
Chapter 51
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After his promise to Esther, Mr. Woodcourt makes a point of often calling on Richard in London. Before his first... (full context)
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...worried because Ada’s fortunes are bound up with his own. Mr. Woodcourt reports this to Esther and takes it as proof that, at heart, Richard is a good fellow. (full context)
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One morning, Esther suggests that she and Ada visit Richard and is surprised to find Ada a little... (full context)
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...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, and Esther... (full context)
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Ada begins to cry again and reveals to Esther that she and Richard have been married in secret. Esther sees that Ada has been... (full context)
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Ada intends to remain with Richard and not go back to Mr. Jarndyce’s house, and Esther agrees that this must be the case. She tries to part with them cheerfully, saying... (full context)
Chapter 52
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Esther is walking in the garden, when Mr. Woodcourt hurries towards her and tells her that... (full context)
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...he will stand by George. Mr. Woodcourt and Mr. Jarndyce decide to visit George immediately. Esther goes too, both for George’s sake, but also because of Mr. Tulkinghorn’s relationship with her... (full context)
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...always been willful and gives him the small supper which she has brought for him. Esther notices that Mrs. Bagnet is signaling for them to meet her outside and she draws... (full context)
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...follows them outside and immediately bursts into tears. She composes herself quickly though, and tells Esther that although George will never admit this, his mother is still alive and must be... (full context)
Chapter 56
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...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,... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce goes to get Esther and then returns to tell Mr. Bucket that she will accompany him. Mr. Bucket waits... (full context)
Chapter 57
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Esther comes downstairs, still dazed and half asleep, and listens with horror as Mr. Bucket reads... (full context)
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At the station, another policeman writes up a description of Lady Dedlock and Esther confirms the likeness with her mother. It is already very late, and Esther waits for... (full context)
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...“Found Drowned.” Mr. Bucket disappears down some steps with another man on the quayside and Esther waits, horrified, until the men return. Mr. Bucket explains that it is just a precaution... (full context)
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...Bucket goes in and chats to the customers and to the owners of the establishment. Esther remains in the carriage, wrapped up against the cold. Mr. Bucket hears that Lady Dedlock... (full context)
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...remembers seeing a man on the road on the night that she took Jo in. Esther says yes and wonders how Mr. Bucket knows about Jo. Mr. Bucket tells her that... (full context)
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...Mr. Bucket points at Mr. Skimpole’s room and asks if he is often a guest. Esther asks how Mr. Bucket knows Mr. Skimpole and the policeman explains that he bribed Mr.... (full context)
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...near the brickmaker’s cottage. When the servants say no, Mr. Bucket suggests that he and Esther should go there immediately. They find the brickmakers and Liz in another cottage nearby, but... (full context)
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Esther asks where Jenny is and if she will be back soon, but her husband answers... (full context)
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Esther tries to find out more, but the brickmaker grows impatient and Mr. Bucket tells Esther... (full context)
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...night, they stop at an inn run by a woman and her daughters. They take Esther inside to get her warm, but she faints when she sees the mounting snow and... (full context)
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The women revive Esther with some food and hot soup before Mr. Bucket returns and says that they must... (full context)
Chapter 59
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Esther and Mr. Bucket re-enter London in the early hours of the morning and travel down... (full context)
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Esther recognizes the street and realizes they are in Chancery Lane. Mr. Bucket begins to lead... (full context)
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When they arrive, Mr. Bucket goes inside and leaves Esther and Mr. Woodcourt in the street. A few moments later, he returns and invites them... (full context)
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Mr. Bucket then tells Mrs. Snagsby—who still peers menacingly at Esther—that she has made a mistake and that she should be ashamed to accuse her husband,... (full context)
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...The letter has come from Guster, whom Mr. Woodcourt has revived, and Mr. Bucket takes Esther in to speak with her. (full context)
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At the sight of the poor, stunned girl, Esther begins to cry and begs Guster to tell her how she got the letter. Guster... (full context)
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Mr. Bucket knows the place, and he, Esther, and Mr. Woodcourt rush into the street and head for the burial ground. Esther is... (full context)
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Esther is horrified by the sight of Jenny, who helped her mother, lying senseless in the... (full context)
Chapter 60
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Esther has a short illness after Lady Dedlock’s death but recovers quickly. They remain in London,... (full context)
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Mrs. Woodcourt has come to stay with them, and Mr. Jarndyce asks Esther how she gets along with the old lady. Esther says that Mrs. Woodcourt seems more... (full context)
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Esther asks Mr. Jarndyce if he thinks that Mr. Woodcourt will go abroad again, and Mr.... (full context)
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Esther goes to visit Ada every day during this time. She lives with Richard in his... (full context)
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Esther is unhappy to hear this but hides it from the old woman. Miss Flite leans... (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... (full context)
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Richard 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... (full context)
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Ada and Esther sit together while the men are out and Esther notices that her friend is very... (full context)
Chapter 61
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Mr. Skimpole also visits Richard regularly, and Esther can see that he is bad influence and that Ada is troubled by his presence.... (full context)
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Esther also tells him that she was very disappointed to hear that he accepted a bribe... (full context)
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Esther leaves after this and never sees Mr. Skimpole again. When Mr. Jarndyce discovers that Mr.... (full context)
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...becomes “like the madness of a gamester.” Mr. Woodcourt still goes to see him, but Esther can see that Richard deteriorates. One night, Esther and Mr. Woodcourt walk home from Richard’s... (full context)
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...nothing will change between them, and that he will still attend to Richard. He leaves Esther alone and she goes to her room to cry. (full context)
Chapter 62
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That night, in her room, Esther reads Mr. Jarndyce’s letter and, the next morning, is refreshed and hopeful again. When she... (full context)
Chapter 63
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...asks Mr. Rouncewell to look at a letter he has written. The letter is to Esther and tells her that, a long time ago, he was given a letter for her... (full context)
Chapter 64
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One morning, Mr. Jarndyce gives Esther a letter which invites her to begin preparations for her wedding. They agree to marry... (full context)
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Esther arrives and dines with Mr. Jarndyce at a hotel. Mr. Jarndyce tells her that he... (full context)
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The next day, Mr. Jarndyce takes Esther to see the house, and she thinks that it is beautiful and exactly to her... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce explains that although he has always been certain that Esther would make a wonderful wife, he wishes to make her happy and, when Mr. Woodcourt... (full context)
Chapter 65
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Esther and Mr. Jarndyce return to London and are surprised when Mr. Guppy, Mrs. Guppy, and... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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.... (full context)
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Esther comforts Richard, and Mr. Jarndyce is brought inside where the two are reconciled. They speak... (full context)
Chapter 67
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Esther has been the “mistress of Bleak House” for seven years. Ada gives birth to a... (full context)
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Esther is always grateful to Mr. Jarndyce for his kindness to everyone. She still mourns for... (full context)