Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

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Mr. Jarndyce Character Analysis

Mr. Jarndyce adopts Esther Summerson at Miss Barbary’s private request and pays for the girl’s education. He then gives Esther a place in his home as his housekeeper and the companion to his relative, Ada Clare, who is a ward of the court and involved in the lawsuit Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which Mr. Jarndyce has inherited from his uncle Tom Jarndyce. Mr. Jarndyce is very sensible when it comes to this lawsuit, which is notoriously meandering and complicated and which, he believes, is unlikely to ever be resolved. Tom Jarndyce went mad and shot himself because he couldn’t stand the suspense of the suit, which promised to bestow a large amount of property on him and yet bankrupted him in legal fees before its resolution. Mr. Jarndyce learns from his uncle’s mistakes and is clearly a practical and observant man. He understands that lawsuits like Jarndyce and Jarndyce encourage people to develop false hopes and earnestly tries to dissuade his young cousin, Richard Carstone, from becoming involved in the case. Mr. Jarndyce has great sympathy for the poor and supports charitable causes. He cannot bear to be thanked, however, and hurries away rather than meet with any gratitude for his many acts of kindness. Mr. Jarndyce always considers the needs of those he helps and makes sure that, when he offers his help, it is practical and really benefits the person that it is designed to help. He does not seek personal acclaim for these acts of generosity and, therefore, puts his own ego aside and puts the needs of others before his own. Mr. Jarndyce falls in love with Esther Summerson but, nobly, allows her to break off their engagement and actively arranges her marriage to Mr. Woodcourt, whom he knows she loves more and will be happier with.

Mr. Jarndyce Quotes in Bleak House

The Bleak House quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Jarndyce or refer to Mr. Jarndyce. 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 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 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:
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 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:
Get the entire Bleak House LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Mr. Jarndyce Character Timeline in Bleak House

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Jarndyce appears in Bleak House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Mr. Kenge informs Esther that a gentleman named Mr. Jarndyce will provide for her education, and that she is to be sent away to school.... (full context)
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...she will be removed from the school and sent to the house of her guardian, Mr. Jarndyce , where she will become the companion of a young ward in the lawsuit Jarndyce... (full context)
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Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...them all politely and tells them that they will be under the care of a Mr. Jarndyce of Bleak House while they wait for the outcome of Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Ada and... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...spend the night at the home of a woman called Mrs. Jellyby, a friend of Mr. Jarndyce ’s, who is working on a project in Africa where she encourages the local people... (full context)
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...and Ada return to their room that night, they begin to talk about their guardian, Mr. Jarndyce . Neither of them has ever met Mr. Jarndyce, and Richard has only seen him... (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 their carriage, and the driver hands each orphan... (full context)
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They are all careful not to thank Mr. Jarndyce as they make themselves at home and Esther realizes privately that Mr. Jarndyce is the... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce shows the young people to their rooms, and they find that the house is rambling... (full context)
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...friends and acquaintances as it allows them to practice their generosity when they help him. Mr. Jarndyce wholeheartedly agrees. (full context)
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...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 Richard and Mr.... (full context)
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...owes, and he tells her that it is a trifling amount. Although he says that Mr. Jarndyce would happily pay it, he would rather give someone new the opportunity to help him.... (full context)
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...Skimpole slips back into his entertaining manner. When Mr. Skimpole has gone to bed, however, Mr. Jarndyce takes Esther and Richard aside and is very concerned that they have given Mr. Skimpole... (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... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce explains that Tom Jarndyce was his uncle, and that the house once belonged to him.... (full context)
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Esther remarks on what a transformation Mr. Jarndyce has produced in Bleak House, and Mr. Jarndyce happily tells Esther that he has great... (full context)
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...their new life at Bleak House. They spend time with a circle of philanthropists—acquaintances of Mr. Jarndyce —and are amazed at the energy which these people expend on their many charitable causes.... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...most of their time as a group. Richard still has not selected a profession. Although Mr. Jarndyce writes to Richard’s relative, Sir Leicester Dedlock, asking Sir Leicester to provide an income for... (full context)
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...him and enjoys watching him and Ada as the pair fall in love. One morning, Mr. Jarndyce receives a letter from his old friend Mr. Boythorn. The letter announces that Mr. Boythorn... (full context)
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...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 be married. However, this relationship ended,... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Meanwhile, Richard has still not decided what profession he should go into. Mr. Jarndyce feels that this is because Richard has been born into uncertainty, with his familial connection... (full context)
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Mr. Kenge agrees with Mr. Jarndyce that a doctor is a noble profession, but that it is a great deal of... (full context)
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...loss as how to put him off. She does not want to tell Richard or Mr. Jarndyce because she does not want to get Mr. Guppy into trouble, but his pursuit annoys... (full context)
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...been unusually quiet. Richard is set to remain behind in London, while Esther, Ada, and Mr. Jarndyce are to return to Bleak House. After their dinner at the Badgers’, Ada takes Esther... (full context)
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...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 young to be married but wish to... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce congratulates Richard and Ada but cautions them against getting married too young. He tells them... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...because of the shock. As they pass Nemo’s door, Esther feels a shiver. Ada and Mr. Jarndyce are with Miss Flite when Esther and Caddy arrive. A doctor, Mr. Woodcourt, is also... (full context)
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...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)
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...to tell them the names of her birds, when she hears Krook outside the door. Mr. Jarndyce opens the door and finds Krook eavesdropping. He enters the room shiftily and seems pleased... (full context)
Chapter 15
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During their time 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... (full context)
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...to stay with Mr. Boythorn, and that the man who tried to arrest him at Mr. Jarndyce ’s has died. He has left three children orphaned with no one to care for... (full context)
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...takes the baby from her brother in a motherly way and soothes the child immediately. Mr. Jarndyce is horrified and asks Charley how old she is. Charley replies that she is 13... (full context)
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...his sister and begins to cry. The landlady, Mrs. Blinder, comes upstairs and quietly tells Mr. Jarndyce that she does not charge the children rent, but Mr. Jarndyce says that the situation... (full context)
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...makes a gruff comment about rich people who come to gawk at the children, but Mr. Jarndyce respectfully tells him that this is not what they are here to do. Gridley apologizes... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Esther and Ada encourage him to tell Mr. Jarndyce about this change of profession and Richard agrees. Mr. Jarndyce takes this news graciously and... (full context)
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Esther sits down with him and asks him what is wrong. Mr. Jarndyce says that she would not understand but agrees to tell her something of her origins... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...on Jarndyce and Jarndyce right away. Seeing that there is no more he can do, Mr. Jarndyce reluctantly leaves Richard to it and takes Ada, Esther, and Mr. Skimpole to visit Mr.... (full context)
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...because he has not paid the rent. He is very unconcerned about it, however, because Mr. Jarndyce let him borrow the furniture in his own name and will, therefore, pay the bill... (full context)
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...calls Sir Leicester all sorts of names but he speaks very respectfully of Lady Dedlock. Mr. Jarndyce asks if they may visit Chesney Wold and Mr. Boythorn says that, as his guests,... (full context)
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Ada, Esther, and Mr. Jarndyce often go for walks in the grounds. One day, when they are out in their... (full context)
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Lady Dedlock warmly introduces herself to Mr. Jarndyce and asks after Richard, whom Mr. Jarndyce wrote to Sir Leicester about. Mr. Jarndyce thanks... (full context)
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Lady Dedlock talks with Mr. Jarndyce as the storm continues. She thinks that he may have known her sister at one... (full context)
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...imagine it is blood. The rain lets up soon after this and Esther, Ada, and Mr. Jarndyce return to Mr. Boythorn’s house. (full context)
Chapter 23
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...to her room, she finds Charley there. Charley explains that she has been hired by Mr. Jarndyce to be Esther’s maid. Esther is overcome with gratitude and Charley bursts into tears because... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Richard comes to see Mr. Jarndyce and tells him of his plans to join the army. Mr. Jarndyce respects Richard’s decision... (full context)
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Everything seems to be going well until, one evening, Richard comes to see Mr. Jarndyce in a rage. It transpires that Mr. Jarndyce has contacted Richard to ask him to... (full context)
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Richard says that Mr. Jarndyce does not trust him, but Mr. Jarndyce insists that he acts with both Richard and... (full context)
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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. Jarndyce asks George... (full context)
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...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 between the composed, bored looking lawyers... (full context)
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George leads Miss Flite to Gridley’s bedside while the others wait. Mr. Jarndyce , who has heard about Gridley, arrives, and George takes them down to visit the... (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 an interest in Esther... (full context)
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...her and thanks her for her help with the wedding. As she drives away in Mr. Jarndyce ’s carriage, Esther asks her guardian if he approves of the marriage. Mr. Jarndyce assures... (full context)
Chapter 31
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Esther keeps her distance, but beckons Jo towards Mr. Jarndyce ’s house so that he will not lie down to die in the street. He... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce complains resentfully that if Jo were a prisoner, he would have a bed for the... (full context)
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Mr. Skimpole seems bemused by this decision and Mr. Jarndyce asks him what he would suggest. Mr. Skimpole casually reels off a homemade remedy for... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Later that day, Mr. Jarndyce comes in, and Esther is relieved that he treats her the same as always and... (full context)
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Esther is shocked to hear this and asks Mr. Jarndyce if Richard suspects him of thwarting his interests. Mr. Jarndyce replies that this is the... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce tells Esther that she will soon be strong enough to see Ada again, and tells... (full context)
Chapter 36
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...she again insists that she is beyond redemption. She tells Esther that she may tell Mr. Jarndyce —who is very kind—but no one else. Before she bids her daughter farewell, she implores... (full context)
Chapter 37
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...Chancery and that Mr. Skimpole is with him. Esther is dismayed when Richard talks of Mr. Jarndyce in a disparaging tone, but Richard brushes this off. Richard has paid for Mr. Skimpole... (full context)
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...Flite’s words and the story of old Tom Jarndyce. Esther tries to remind him of Mr. Jarndyce ’s warning, but Richard scoffs when he hears this name and says that Mr. Jarndyce... (full context)
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Esther reprimands Richard and asks him to remember Mr. Jarndyce ’s generosity. Richard seems a little ashamed, but he maintains that he must make his... (full context)
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Ada writes Richard a letter and tells him that he has inadvertently wronged Mr. Jarndyce . She also begs him not to go into debt or trouble himself about the... (full context)
Chapter 39
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...insinuates that there are other forces working against Richard. Richard assumes that he refers to Mr. Jarndyce and becomes violently angry at the thought of his guardian. He cannot believe that, once,... (full context)
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...that he always has Richard’s best interests in mind. He subtly confirms Richard’s view that Mr. Jarndyce has tried to destroy the lawsuit for his own ends. Mr. Vholes is very glad... (full context)
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...it is very soothing to have a tangible enemy in mind in the figure of Mr. Jarndyce . Richard’s clothes are shabby, and his complexion is ruddy and inflamed as he stalks... (full context)
Chapter 43
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...her in the papers, and listens for any mention of her in fashionable circles. Meanwhile, Mr. Jarndyce ’s worry over Richard increases and, although Ada implores him to be patient with her... (full context)
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Ada and Esther beg Mr. Jarndyce to speak with Mr. Skimpole, who is often with Richard, and who spends the young... (full context)
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...find him having breakfast. His house is very dirty and cluttered, but he eats lavishly. Mr. Jarndyce brings up the subject of Richard and explains patiently to Mr. Skimpole that he must... (full context)
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...for and interest in everything and everyone. Mr. Skimpole says that he will return with Mr. Jarndyce to his house. Mrs. Skimpole is ill, and an angry baker, whom Mr. Skimpole owes... (full context)
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...is shown into the room. Esther is stunned and is barely aware of herself as Mr. Jarndyce introduces her. Sir Leicester has come to apologize on behalf of Mr. Boythorn and to... (full context)
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...Skimpole to visit Chesney Wold in future. Sir Leicester then gives Lady Dedlock’s regards to Mr. Jarndyce and mentions that his Lady has told him that she met Esther and Ada in... (full context)
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...Lady Dedlock’s reference to her estranged sister when they were trapped in the rain together. Mr. Jarndyce is confused and asks her if she knows that this sister was once Mr. Boythorn’s... (full context)
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Esther asks why Mr. Boythorn and Miss Barbary separated. Mr. Jarndyce says that he doesn’t know, but that, one day, Mr. Boythorn received a letter from... (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 tells him of her... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce tells Esther that he has a proposition for her but that he would like to... (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 back over her past... (full context)
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Esther is overcome with gratitude and knows that she will accept Mr. Jarndyce ’s offer. However, despite her happiness, she feels that she has lost something and weeps... (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 ask for her reply,... (full context)
Chapter 45
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...because Ada hopes that Richard will soon grow bored of Chancery affairs. Esther goes to Mr. Jarndyce ’s office and finds Mr. Vholes there. He has come to tell Mr. Jarndyce that... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce explains that he does not think Richard will allow him to pay his fees, and... (full context)
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Ada, Esther, Charley, and Mr. Jarndyce take rooms in London, and Esther and Charley drive out to the coast at Deal... (full context)
Chapter 47
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...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 delirious.... (full context)
Chapter 50
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...little girl, is ill and goes to visit her friend in London. When she returns, Mr. Jarndyce proposes that they go to stay in London so Esther can be near Caddy. He... (full context)
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...Ada. Esther wonders if Ada is upset because of the new relationship between herself and Mr. Jarndyce . One night, Mr. Jarndyce and Esther discuss Mr. Woodcourt, and Mr. Jarndyce says that... (full context)
Chapter 51
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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... (full context)
Chapter 52
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...remembers Lady Dedlock’s hatred of the lawyer and rushes inside with Mr. Woodcourt to consult Mr. Jarndyce . Mr. Jarndyce does not believe that George is guilty, and Esther acknowledges that it... (full context)
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Mr. Woodcourt explains that George is the one who sent him to see Mr. Jarndyce and the rest of the group because the trooper is very concerned that his friends... (full context)
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...there is nothing he can do, he sees no point in protesting about his situation. Mr. Jarndyce asks if George has entered a plea and he replies that he has told the... (full context)
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Mrs. Bagnet, who has heard the conversation, urges George to take Mr. Jarndyce ’s advice. Mrs. Bagnet complains that George has always been willful and gives him the... (full context)
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...sets off right away with a small pouch of money in her skirts. Esther and Mr. Jarndyce watch her go, amazed, and Mr. Bagnet remarks that she is an incredible woman. (full context)
Chapter 55
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...him and agrees to get a lawyer. He says that his mother should speak with Mr. Jarndyce , who has promised to find him one for him, and Mrs. Rouncewell says that... (full context)
Chapter 56
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Mr. Bucket rides to George’s gallery and finds the trooper has just returned from Mr. Jarndyce ’s house. Mr. Bucket asks for the address and rushes off again for this destination.... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce goes to get Esther and then returns to tell Mr. Bucket that she will accompany... (full context)
Chapter 60
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...a short illness after Lady Dedlock’s death but recovers quickly. They remain in London, and Mr. Jarndyce says that they should stay there for a time. They see Ada every day and... (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... (full context)
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Esther asks Mr. Jarndyce if he thinks that Mr. Woodcourt will go abroad again, and Mr. Jarndyce says that... (full context)
Chapter 61
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Esther leaves after this and never sees Mr. Skimpole again. When Mr. Jarndyce discovers that Mr. Skimpole has ignored his request to leave Richard alone, he, too, stops... (full context)
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...Esther is amazed and tries to stifle her disappointment because she is already engaged to Mr. Jarndyce . (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 is alone... (full context)
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...Bucket. Mr. Bucket explains that Mr. Smallweed very cooperatively agreed to deliver the will to Mr. Jarndyce on the principal that there may be a reward, even if this reward is only... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce thanks Mr. Bucket but says he wants nothing to do with the suit. He takes... (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... (full context)
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Esther arrives and dines with Mr. Jarndyce at a hotel. Mr. Jarndyce tells her that he has come here to arrange a... (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... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce explains that although he has always been certain that Esther would make a wonderful wife,... (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... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce listens to Mr. Guppy’s long speech and tells him that Esther most certainly declines. Mr.... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce discovers that Jarndyce and Jarndyce will be settled in two days’ time. Esther and Mr.... (full context)
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...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. They find Richard on the... (full context)
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Esther comforts Richard, and Mr. Jarndyce is brought inside where the two are reconciled. They speak gently to Richard of Esther’s... (full context)
Chapter 67
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...birth to a healthy baby, and the child helps her survive her grief for Richard. Mr. Jarndyce invites her and her son to live with him, and she gratefully accepts. Esther has... (full context)
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Esther is always grateful to Mr. Jarndyce for his kindness to everyone. She still mourns for Richard and sees his likeness in... (full context)