Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

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Mr. Skimpole Character Analysis

Mr. Skimpole is a friend of Mr. Jarndyce’s and a playful, entertaining gentleman of leisure. He is not a poor man, but he is always in debt and constantly borrows money from Mr. Jarndyce and from his other acquaintances, whether they can afford it or not. Mr. Skimpole hates to take things seriously and is totally irresponsible. Although he does not care for anyone but himself, his friends and acquaintances are disarmed by his cheerful, charming manner and do not immediately recognize this. Mr. Skimpole does not feel that it is his job to help or guide anybody, and he claims that he cannot keep track of his debts or finances because he cannot count or understand money. However, he often accepts bribes and avoids his friends as soon as they become poor, usually from furnishing his expenses. He also plays a part in bankrupting Richard Carstone; he accepts a bribe from Mr. Vholes, the predatory lawyer who preys on Richard’s frail mental state, to introduce him to Richard, and he encourages Richard to keep spending money even when Richard is nearly ruined. Although Esther Summerson wants to give Mr. Skimpole the benefit of the doubt, believing that he is innocent and not aware of the consequences of his careless actions, she is skeptical of his character and loses patience with him after his poor treatment of Richard. Mr. Skimpole never takes responsibility for his actions and, in fact, angrily attacks Mr. Jarndyce and calls him selfish when Mr. Jarndyce finally withdraws his charity.

Mr. Skimpole Quotes in Bleak House

The Bleak House quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Skimpole or refer to Mr. Skimpole. 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 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 37 Quotes

I never shall forget those two seated side by side in the lantern’s light; Richard, all flush and fire and laughter, with the reins in his hand; Mr. Vholes, quite still, black-gloved, and buttoned up, looking at him as if he were looking at his prey and charming it. I have before me the whole picture of the warm dark night, the summer lightning, the dusty track of road closed in by hedgerows and high trees, the gaunt pale horse with his ears pricked up, and the driving away at speed to Jarndyce and Jarndyce.

Page Number: 457
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mr. Skimpole Character Timeline in Bleak House

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Skimpole appears in Bleak House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...that they will be joined for dinner by his only other guest, a man named Mr. Skimpole , who is an artist and a man who is as entertaining and charming as... (full context)
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Downstairs at dinner, they are introduced to Mr. Skimpole . Esther is struck by his appearance and thinks that he looks like a young... (full context)
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...Jarndyce notice that Richard watches Ada closely. After a while, Esther observes that Richard and Mr. Skimpole have left the room, and she is surprised when a maid comes to fetch her... (full context)
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Richard, who is with Mr. Skimpole , seems extremely concerned, but Mr. Skimpole is unruffled and cannot understand what the fuss... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Mr. Skimpole suggests that, since Richard is involved in Jarndyce and Jarndyce and may be owed a... (full context)
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...group returns to the drawing room, and Esther is amazed at the ease with which Mr. Skimpole slips back into his entertaining manner. When Mr. Skimpole has gone to bed, however, Mr.... (full context)
Chapter 8
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
...house, Esther explores the grounds and begins her housekeeping duties. After breakfast—at which, she notes, Mr. Skimpole is extremely cheerful—she is invited into Mr. Jarndyce’s study, which he calls “the Growlery.” Mr.... (full context)
Chapter 15
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...on and on about other people’s missions rather than cultivating a passion of his own. Mr. Skimpole has been ill, and they have seen little of him, but he reappears a short... (full context)
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Mr. Skimpole tells them one night that he has been invited to go with them to stay... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
...Gridley then takes the children down to his room so that they can play, and Mr. Skimpole muses on what these men could have been in a different life. The little group... (full context)
Chapter 18
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
...he can do, Mr. Jarndyce reluctantly leaves Richard to it and takes Ada, Esther, and Mr. Skimpole to visit Mr. Boythorn. (full context)
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
On the coach on the way up to Mr. Boythorn’s house, Mr. Skimpole tells them that the landlord has confiscated all of his furniture because he has not... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...too and tries to compose herself. After the service, the Dedlocks leave the church, and Mr. Skimpole says that he would be very happy to be patronized by such a wealthy man.... (full context)
Chapter 31
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...and does not seem frightened. When they arrive back at Mr. Jarndyce’s, they find that Mr. Skimpole is there. Esther calls him and Mr. Jarndyce in to see Jo and Mr. Skimpole... (full context)
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...he would have a bed for the night and be treated for his sickness, and Mr. Skimpole says that he should be a prisoner then, as this would be more poetic. Mr.... (full context)
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Mr. Skimpole seems bemused by this decision and Mr. Jarndyce asks him what he would suggest. Mr.... (full context)
Chapter 37
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...Richard tells her that he has come down on his break from Chancery and that Mr. Skimpole is with him. Esther is dismayed when Richard talks of Mr. Jarndyce in a disparaging... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Esther is distressed to find that Mr. Skimpole encourages Richard in his Chancery suit because he finds it very poetic. Esther leads Richard... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Mr. Skimpole often comes with Richard and, one morning, Esther takes him aside and attempts to talk... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
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...them, but Richard hurries off again to meet a man who approaches across the gardens. Mr. Skimpole says that this is Mr. Vholes, Richard’s lawyer, and a most respectable and responsible man.... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
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...soon as he can. Esther and Ada are very uncomfortable to see him go, and Mr. Skimpole remains behind with them for one more night. That night, Ada tells Esther that she... (full context)
Chapter 39
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...tried to destroy the lawsuit for his own ends. Mr. Vholes is very glad that Mr. Skimpole brought Richard to him as a client so that he can protect Richard in this... (full context)
Chapter 43
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
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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 man’s money freely. Mr.... (full context)
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Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
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They visit Mr. Skimpole the next day and find him having breakfast. His house is very dirty and cluttered,... (full context)
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Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
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Mr. Skimpole then introduces him to his three daughters: Sentiment, Beauty, and Comedy. They, too, are helpless,... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Mr. Skimpole is in bright spirits, however, and sings for them in the library when they get... (full context)
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Sir Leicester is especially eager to meet Mr. Skimpole , who he has heard is an artist. Mr. Skimpole is pleased to meet him... (full context)
Chapter 57
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Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
As they approach the house, Mr. Bucket points at Mr. Skimpole ’s room and asks if he is often a guest. Esther asks how Mr. Bucket... (full context)
Chapter 61
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
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Mr. Skimpole also visits Richard regularly, and Esther can see that he is bad influence and that... (full context)
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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... (full context)