Miss Barbary is Lady Dedlock’s sister and Esther Summerson’s aunt. She is a hard, judgmental woman, who despises her sister because she gave birth to an illegitimate child. Esther claims that her aunt (whom she originally believes to be her godmother, not her aunt) is a “good woman” but that she is so good that she cannot stand sin in others. Miss Barbary is a hypocrite, however, and is arrogant because she believes she is without sin. In actuality, she is cruel to Esther as a child and blames her for her mother’s sin and is not a kind or forgiving woman. These traits come back to haunt Miss Barbary and she is struck down by a stroke while Esther reads a passage from the Bible which suggests that no one is without sin. She dies soon after this. Miss Barbary also resents Esther because she breaks off an engagement to Mr. Jarndyce's friend, Mr. Boythorn, in order to raise Esther in secret to hide Lady Dedlock’s shame.
Miss Barbary / Esther’s Godmother Quotes in Bleak House
The Bleak House quotes below are all either spoken by Miss Barbary / Esther’s Godmother or refer to Miss Barbary / Esther’s Godmother. 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: 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.’
Miss Barbary / Esther’s Godmother Character Timeline in Bleak House
The timeline below shows where the character Miss Barbary / Esther’s Godmother appears in Bleak House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.