Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

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Mademoiselle Hortense Character Analysis

Mademoiselle Hortense, a French woman, is Lady Dedlock’s maid. She is an extremely jealous and proud woman and cannot stand to be treated as an inferior in her role as a servant. She despises Lady Dedlock because of her haughty manner and leaves her service when Lady Dedlock replaces her with Rosa and seeks to punish her for her arrogant behavior. While they are at Chesney Wold, Esther Summerson, Ada Clare, and Mr. Jarndyce watch Mademoiselle Hortense walk through wet grass in bare feet when Lady Dedlock dismisses her from her service and chooses Rosa over her. Mr. Jarndyce suggests that Mademoiselle Hortense does this so that she will become ill and will possibly die, which she feels will punish Lady Dedlock. This demonstrates the intensity of Mademoiselle Hortense’s pride and her obsessive hatred of her mistress. After she leaving Lady Dedlock’s service, Mademoiselle Hortense harasses Mr. Tulkinghorn and Mr. Snagsby, who she thinks may have incriminating evidence about Lady Dedlock’s past. Both these men find her unnerving and suggest she may be mad. This is confirmed at the end of the novel, when Mademoiselle Hortense murders Mr. Tulkinghorn and tries to frame Lady Dedlock for his murder. She confesses this when she is arrested by Mr. Bucket and is frenzied in her hatred for Lady Dedlock.

Mademoiselle Hortense Quotes in Bleak House

The Bleak House quotes below are all either spoken by Mademoiselle Hortense or refer to Mademoiselle Hortense. 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 54 Quotes

Heaven knows what he sees. The green, green woods of Chesney Wold, the noble house, the pictures of his forefathers, strangers defacing them, officers of police coarsely handling his most precious heirlooms, thousands of fingers pointing at him, thousands of faces sneering at him. But if such shadows flit before him to his bewilderment, there is one other shadow which he can name with something like distinctness even yet, and to which alone he addresses his tearing of his white hair, and his extended arms.

Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 629-630
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mademoiselle Hortense Character Timeline in Bleak House

The timeline below shows where the character Mademoiselle Hortense appears in Bleak House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 12
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Lady Dedlock’s maid, a Frenchwoman named Mademoiselle Hortense , is jealous of the attention that Lady Dedlock gives to Rosa. She mocks Lady... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...Lady Dedlock watches out for him from the window and seems to anticipate his arrival. Mademoiselle Hortense observes this and Lady Dedlock is irritable with her. One evening, when Lady Dedlock and... (full context)
Chapter 18
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...watch her go, confused. The groundskeeper laughs when he sees this and tells them that Mademoiselle Hortense is extremely proud and cannot bear to be treated as an inferior. His wife suggests... (full context)
Chapter 22
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...Jo and sends him away. When he has gone, the woman lifts her veil—it is Mademoiselle Hortense . Mr. Tulkinghorn thanks her for her service and dismisses her too. Mr. Bucket confirms... (full context)
Chapter 23
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...Shortly before they return to London, Esther comes home from a walk and finds that Mademoiselle Hortense wants to see her. (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Mademoiselle Hortense greets Esther passionately and begs her to employ her as a maid. She complains that... (full context)
Chapter 42
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...in the hall and asks the stationer what he wants. Mr. Snagsby meekly explains that Mademoiselle Hortense has been hanging around the shop because Mr. Tulkinghorn will not see her. She wants... (full context)
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Mr. Tulkinghorn does not know what Mademoiselle Hortense wants and thinks she might be mad. He tells Mr. Snagsby to send her to... (full context)
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Mademoiselle Hortense claims that Mr. Tulkinghorn has used her. She came to him expecting revenge against Lady... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...to him again, or goes to Mr. Snagsby’s, he will have her thrown in jail. Mademoiselle Hortense spits back that she dares him to try and raves at him until he successfully... (full context)
Chapter 44
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...to be concerned. Esther then tells him about Mr. Guppy—whom Mr. Jarndyce almost laughs at—and Mademoiselle Hortense . Esther admits that she fears Mademoiselle Hortense greatly because her behavior is so odd.... (full context)
Chapter 54
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
...the house, and that he is about to arrest them. He unlocks the door and Mademoiselle Hortense enters. Mr. Bucket slams the door shut once more, and Mademoiselle Hortense looks around at... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Mr. Bucket forces Mademoiselle Hortense to sit on the sofa and tells Sir Leicester that she has been stalking Mr.... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...On the night after the murder, Mr. Bucket returned home and found his wife and Mademoiselle Hortense eating dinner. He knew, by the flattering way she talked about Mr. Tulkinghorn, that she... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...and Mrs. Bucket helped him solve the crime. He told Mrs. Bucket to relay to Mademoiselle Hortense that it was George who had committed the murder. Mrs. Bucket then stuck close by... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Mr. Bucket says that Mademoiselle Hortense silenced the gun using curtain fabric from Chesney Wold, and that she, Lady Dedlock, and... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Mr. Bucket puts Mademoiselle Hortense in handcuffs and begins to lead her away. She spits and swears and screams that... (full context)