Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

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Mr. Jellyby Character Analysis

Mr. Jellyby is the husband of Mrs. Jellyby and the father of Caddy, Peepy, and the other Jellyby children. Mr. Jellyby is totally defeated by his wife’s obsessive philanthropy. He cannot earn enough to supply her missions and ends up going bankrupt as a result. He is deeply unhappy because his house is a mess and his children are uncared for, but he cannot muster the energy to take these matters into his own hands, and instead sits miserably with his head against the wall. Mr. Jellyby loves his eldest daughter, Caddy, and is delighted when she gets married and strives to be a domesticated wife for her husband, Prince. He thanks Esther Summerson for her influence on Caddy because Esther is emblematic of a good housekeeper and a good maternal figure in the novel. Through Mr. Jellyby, Dickens emphasizes the damage and unhappiness that Mrs. Jellyby’s obsessive and ineffective philanthropy creates.
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Mr. Jellyby Character Timeline in Bleak House

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Jellyby appears in Bleak House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
...is surprised to learn that the strange, silent man who sits at the table is Mr. Jellyby . Another a philanthropist, Mr. Quale, also joins them and talks enthusiastically about Mrs. Jellyby’s... (full context)
Chapter 23
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
...set off to tell Mrs. Jellyby of the engagement. When they arrive, they find that Mr. Jellyby has been declared bankrupt and is upstairs with two accountants. Mrs. Jellyby is upstairs, working... (full context)
Chapter 30
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
...asks Ada and Esther to help her plan her wedding and to be her bridesmaids. Mr. Jellyby has recovered from bankruptcy and become friends with Mr. Turveydrop. Caddy and Prince have now... (full context)
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
...to Mrs. Jellyby’s and try to make the house, and Mrs. Jellyby herself, look presentable. Mr. Jellyby cries when he sees them and tearfully tells Caddy, as he watches her tidy up,... (full context)
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
...the blasé attitude of Mr. Turveydrop and Mrs. Jellyby but is even more surprised when Mr. Jellyby suddenly seizes her and thanks her for her help with the wedding. As she drives... (full context)
Chapter 38
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...get ready to go into town. Caddy tells Esther how kind Mr. Turveydrop is to Mr. Jellyby and that the two are great friends. Mr. Turveydrop also extends his kindness to Peepy... (full context)