Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

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Mr. Guppy is a young clerk in Mr. Kenge’s office. An ambitious, self-interested man and a social climber, Mr. Guppy cares a great deal about his appearance and reputation and is primarily interested in advancing his social status. Throughout the novel, he serves as a figure of ridicule and a comic relief character. Mr. Guppy meets Esther Summerson when she comes to London and suspects her relation to Lady Dedlock, who is really Esther’s mother, after he sees a portrait of Lady Dedlock at her husband’s country house, Chesney Wold. Mr. Guppy proposes to Esther, because he believes she has noble relations and, when she rejects his offer, makes a dramatic show of being heartbroken and follows her all over the city. He constantly brings up his disappointment with his friends, Mr. Jobling and Bart Smallweed, but only hints at what has happened and never tells them the full story. This is because he likes to draw attention to himself and make himself seem mysterious and important by suggesting that he has confidential links to noble people and influential figures. Mr. Guppy plots against his friends and acquaintances, whom he is often jealous of and suspects of plotting against him. He gets involved with the mystery of Esther’s parentage when he tries to blackmail Lady Dedlock because he thinks that he has found evidence that she is Esther’s mother, in a bundle of letters found in Krook’s shop. Although Mr. Guppy pretends that he wants to help Lady Dedlock conceal her secret, he really wants leverage for himself and thinks that if he helps Esther find her mother, she will be grateful and marry him, which will improve his social connections. Mr. Guppy does not really love Esther, and when he sees her after her illness, her face now scarred by smallpox, he is embarrassed that he proposed and denies his previous attentions to her. However, when, at the end of the novel, it is revealed that Esther is Lady Dedlock’s daughter, Mr. Guppy suddenly wants to marry her again.

Mr. Guppy Quotes in Bleak House

The Bleak House quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Guppy or refer to Mr. Guppy. 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 20 Quotes

Mr Guppy suspects everybody who enters on the occupation of a stool in Kenge and Carboy’s office, of entertaining, as a matter of course, sinister designs upon him. He is clear that every such person wants to depose him. If he be ever asked how, why, when, or wherefore, he shuts up one eye and shakes his head. On the strength of these profound views, he in the most ingenious manner takes infinite pains to counterplot, when there is no plot; and plays the deepest games of chess without any adversary.

Related Characters: Richard Carstone, Mr. Guppy
Page Number: 235-236
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 39 Quotes

They gradually discern the elder Mr Smallweed, seated in his chair upon the brink of a well or grave of waste paper; the virtuous Judy groping therein, like a female sexton; and Mrs Smallweed on the level ground in the vicinity, snowed up in a heap of paper fragments, print and manuscript, which would appear to be the accumulated compliments that have been sent flying at her in the course of the day. The whole party, Small included, are blackened with dust and dirt, and present a fiendish appearance not relieved by the general aspect of the room.

Page Number: 477
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Bleak House LitChart as a printable PDF.
Bleak House PDF

Mr. Guppy Character Timeline in Bleak House

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Guppy appears in Bleak House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
...encourages the local people to grow 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... (full context)
Chapter 7
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
...it and gives Mrs. Rouncewell a card from one of the men, which reads “ Mr. Guppy .” Mrs. Rouncewell complains that she does not know who this is but agrees to... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Mr. Guppy and his friend find the tour very boring, but Mr. Guppy suddenly livens up when... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
When Mr. Guppy and his friend have gone, however, Mrs. Rouncewell relates the story to Rosa and Watt.... (full context)
Chapter 9
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...Kenge and Carboy will visit them that afternoon. Esther is alone in her study when Mr. Guppy is shown in. He is very smartly dressed, and Esther tells him that Mr. Boythorn... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Mr. Guppy tells Esther that he earns a good salary at Kenge and Carboy, that he owns... (full context)
Chapter 13
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...and Esther is excited to explore the city. She is dismayed, however, to find that Mr. Guppy has seen her and that he now follows her around; he always attends the theater... (full context)
Chapter 19
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
The young man, Mr. Guppy , arrives at this moment and joins the conversation. He greets Mr. Snagsby and tells... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...is skeptical about Jo’s story but leaves him with Mr. Snagsby. Jo’s story has piqued Mr. Guppy ’s interest, and he wishes to interrogate the boy. Mrs. Snagsby invites Mr. Guppy upstairs,... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
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Mr. Guppy announces that he, too, knows Esther and begins to ingratiate himself to Mrs. Chadband. Mr.... (full context)
Chapter 20
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
In his office, during the long vacation, Mr. Guppy is extremely bored. He lounges restlessly about Kenge and Carboy’s and grows jealous of Richard,... (full context)
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Mr. Guppy ’s colleague Bart Smallweed enters the office. He is only 15 but seems never to... (full context)
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Mr. Jobling shouts up to Mr. Guppy that he is hungry and Mr. Guppy shouts back that, if he will wait, they... (full context)
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Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...He has fallen on hard times, been fired, and borrowed money from a bad source. Mr. Guppy suggests that Mr. Jobling should go to Mr. Snagsby for writing work and to Krook... (full context)
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Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Mr. Jobling gratefully thanks Mr. Guppy and accepts his offer. Mr. Guppy tells Mr. Jobling that Krook’s previous lodger died in... (full context)
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Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Bart Smallweed leaves them, and Mr. Guppy and Mr. Jobling go on to Krook’s shop. They find Krook asleep in the shop,... (full context)
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Krook shows Mr. Guppy and Mr. Jobling the room—Mr. Jobling assumes the false name, Mr. Weevle, to disguise himself... (full context)
Chapter 24
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
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Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Esther notices Mr. Guppy in the court and wishes to escape. As Richard leads her out, however, Mr. Guppy... (full context)
Chapter 29
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...and Lady Dedlock grows bored with the political content of the article, their servant announces Mr. Guppy . Sir Leicester is amazed at this impertinence, but Lady Dedlock agrees to see him... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Mr. Guppy explains that he works for Kenge and Carboy’s and that he has connections with Jarndyce... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
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Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
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Lady Dedlock says that she has met the girl once. Mr. Guppy asks if Lady Dedlock noticed the resemblance between herself and Esther and Lady Dedlock replies... (full context)
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Mr. Guppy continues that he has fallen in love with Esther and wishes to help her solve... (full context)
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Mr. Guppy then explains that Miss Barbary admitted to his acquaintance that Esther’s real name is not... (full context)
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Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
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Lady Dedlock observes Mr. Guppy with cold fury as he explains that a bundle of letters has been found in... (full context)
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Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
The house remains silent as Mr. Guppy goes downstairs to leave. In Lady Dedlock’s room, however, she falls to her knees and... (full context)
Chapter 32
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...in the street and awaits his companion, who had promised to meet him. At last Mr. Guppy arrives, and Mr. Weevle protests that Mr. Guppy is late. He leads Mr. Guppy up... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Mr. Guppy looks at the portrait of Lady Dedlock on Mr. Weevle’s wall. Mr. Weevle thinks it... (full context)
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...the air is full of ash, and they wonder if there is a fire somewhere. Mr. Guppy asks Mr. Weevle how he found out about the letters and Mr. Weevle tells him... (full context)
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Mr. Guppy says that, if Krook detects the false letters, they will call his bluff because the... (full context)
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...to read, he thinks, but he clearly believes that he has found some valuable documents. Mr. Guppy notices that the grime in the air has got on his coat and tries to... (full context)
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...not there but that the air is thick with grease and smells like something charred. Mr. Guppy creeps down into the room and finds the cat hissing in the corner and Krook’s... (full context)
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...the lantern and see a pile of ashes on the floor. Horrified by this discovery, Mr. Guppy and Mr. Weevle rush out of the house and call for help. Krook has died... (full context)
Chapter 33
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
...inquest was held for Nemo, and Krook’s death is also the talk of the street. Mr. Guppy and Mr. Weevle are supplied with drinks in the pub and asked to repeat the... (full context)
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Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Mr. Weevle and Mr. Guppy walk from the pub together towards the court and are both very uneasy about the... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
...of the Smallweed family. Mr. Smallweed leans out of the window and excitedly calls to Mr. Guppy . He asks him to carry him into the Sol’s Arms and Mr. Guppy reluctantly... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
...to dance and chant crazily when she hears this, and Mr. Smallweed swears at her. Mr. Guppy and Mr. Weevle are rather indignant that Bart never told them of this relation. They... (full context)
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
...the street, wanting to discuss the cause of death and the likelihood of spontaneous combustion. Mr. Guppy lingers around and is disheartened to see Mr. Smallweed lock up the shop before he... (full context)
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Mr. Guppy pays a visit to Lady Dedlock. She seems, as usual, perfectly indifferent and disdainful of... (full context)
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Mr. Guppy is horrified to see the lawyer here and wishes him good day. Mr. Tulkinghorn, however,... (full context)
Chapter 38
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
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Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Esther takes Caddy with her to Mr. Guppy ’s house and is invited in by Mrs. Guppy, his mother. Mr. Guppy is also... (full context)
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Esther tells Mr. Guppy that she does not want him to investigate her past, and she implores him to... (full context)
Chapter 39
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
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...are shabby, and his complexion is ruddy and inflamed as he stalks across the courtyard. Mr. Guppy and Mr. Weevle watch him and remark that there may be another case of “combustion”... (full context)
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Mr. Guppy and Mr. Weevle discuss the Smallweed family; they are still in Krook’s shop and seem... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
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...is a hive of gossip and activity and the pub nearby does a roaring trade. Mr. Guppy and Mr. Weevle approach and knock on the shop door. They are admitted and go,... (full context)
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Mr. Weevle says that he has come to empty his room. He and Mr. Guppy are shocked to see Mr. Tulkinghorn in the shadows behind Mr. Smallweed, who gives them... (full context)
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They find the room cold and gloomy, just as they left it. Mr. Guppy is in the middle of taking down Mr. Weevle’s Great British Beauties collection when 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
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...of Lady Dedlock from the wall and admires it. As soon as he is gone, Mr. Guppy begin to pack hastily. He begs Mr. Weevle not to ask any questions and heavily... (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
...is and feels Lady Dedlock is right 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... (full context)
Chapter 55
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...Dedlock to reveal any secret she knows which could save George. Mrs. Rouncewell leaves, and Mr. Guppy is announced. He comes timidly into the room and nervously tells Lady Dedlock that the... (full context)
Chapter 62
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...date of the suit and cancels much of the case in dispute! He calls for Mr. Guppy and sends him to inform Mr. Vholes. He says that Richard and Ada’s fortunes will... (full context)
Chapter 65
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Esther and Mr. Jarndyce return to London and are surprised when Mr. Guppy , Mrs. Guppy, and Mr. Weevle come to see them. Mr. Jarndyce is very amused... (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... (full context)