Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

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Mr. Vholes Character Analysis

Mr. Vholes is a lawyer who takes on Richard Carstone’s case in the lawsuit Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Mr. Vholes is a predatory and morally bankrupt man, but, like Mr. Tulkinghorn, conceals this under a veneer of professionalism and respectability. Mr. Vholes is middle-class and supports a small family on his legal income. He bribes Mr. Jarndyce’s friend, Mr. Skimpole, for an introduction to Richard because he knows that Richard is a ward in Jarndyce and Jarndyce and that this is a famously unsolvable case. Although Mr. Vholes tells Richard that he is dedicated to helping him solve the case and receive his inheritance, Mr. Vholes really wants Richard as a client because he knows that Richard will pay him a fortune in legal fees. Mr. Vholes subtly encourages Richard’s hopes, while denying that he does this, and claims that he is only doing his job and thinking of Richard’s best interests when he convinces him to pursue the case, even though Mr. Vholes knows the case is unlikely to ever be resolved. Mr. Vholes also implies that Richard’s guardian, Mr. Jarndyce, is secretly working against Richard—a tactic that ensures Richard blames his guardian for his lack of success solving the case and not Mr. Vholes. Mr. Vholes is morally irresponsible and does not care that Richard grows desperate, delusional, and saddled with debt as time goes on. Esther Summerson feels that Mr. Vholes is like a “vampire” and describes him as looking “lifeless.” This implies that he wishes to suck the life out of Richard, which he ultimately achieves when Richard goes mad from the strain of the case and dies. His name, Vholes, also associates him with a rodent, and when Richard is in his office, Dickens uses the image of the office cat, who sits and watches a mousehole, to suggests that Mr. Vholes is a predator and that Richard is his prey.

Mr. Vholes Quotes in Bleak House

The Bleak House quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Vholes or refer to Mr. Vholes. 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 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:
Chapter 39 Quotes

The one great principle of the English law is, to make business for itself. There is no other principle distinctly, certainly, and consistently maintained through all its narrow turnings. Viewed by this light it becomes a coherent scheme, and not the monstrous make the laity are apt to think it. Let them but once clearly perceive that its grand principle is to make business for itself at their expense, and surely they will cease to grumble.

Related Characters: Mr. Vholes
Page Number: 467
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr. Vholes gives it a rap, and it sounds as hollow as a coffin. Not to Richard, though. There is encouragement in the sound to him. Perhaps Mr. Vholes knows there is.

Related Characters: Richard Carstone, Mr. Vholes
Page Number: 471
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mr. Vholes Character Timeline in Bleak House

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Vholes appears in Bleak House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 37
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
...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. Mr. Skimpole has been in... (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. Vholes has come to tell Richard of a development with the case, and Richard agrees to... (full context)
Chapter 39
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Mr. Vholes occupies a dingy, airless office in Symond’s Inn in Chancery Lane. Mr. Vholes is a... (full context)
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Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
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Richard is in Mr. Vholes ’s office and is distraught because another piece of business with his suit has fallen... (full context)
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
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Richard tries to explain that he does not doubt Mr. Vholes ’ integrity, but that it is hard to hold out hope in a long and... (full context)
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
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Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Mr. Vholes tells Richard that he may rely on him and that he always has Richard’s best... (full context)
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Richard leaves Mr. Vholes office and wanders in the sunshine outside the court for a short time. Although he... (full context)
Chapter 43
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...Mr. Skimpole’s behavior. Esther says it is a shame that Mr. Skimpole introduced Richard to Mr. Vholes , but Mr. Jarndyce says that this, too, is an accident and that Mr. Skimpole... (full context)
Chapter 45
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
A few days later, as Esther and Ada walk around the garden, Esther notices Mr. Vholes on his way to the house. She keeps this from Ada because Ada hopes that... (full context)
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
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...explains that he does not think Richard will allow him to pay his fees, and Mr. Vholes accepts this. Mr. Jarndyce asks Esther to write to Richard, however, to see if Richard... (full context)
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
...longs to die. Esther tries to comfort him, but Richard immediately begins to talk of Mr. Vholes and the assurance that the lawyer has given him that his suit gets on well.... (full context)
Chapter 51
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
...of often calling on Richard in London. Before his first visit, he must call on Mr. Vholes to get Richard’s home address and finds that the lawyer is interested to talk to... (full context)
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At last, Mr. Vholes reveals Richard’s address, and Mr. Woodcourt calls on the young man. Richard is very pleased... (full context)
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...and Jarndyce but is pleased to see Ada and Esther. He tells them that, with Mr. Vholes ’ help, the case comes along well, and Esther thinks that his hopeful expression is... (full context)
Chapter 60
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
...Miss Flite who tells her that she has just left Richard at the court with Mr. Vholes . Miss Flite wrinkles her nose at the name and says that she distrusts the... (full context)
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Mr. Vholes arrives at Richard’s a few minutes after Esther gets there, and while Ada and Richard... (full context)
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
...and sullen over dinner, although he tries to be merry for Esther and Ada’s sake. Mr. Vholes leaves immediately after dinner and Richard goes with him. When he returns, he gives a... (full context)
Chapter 62
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...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 be made by this and rebukes... (full context)