Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

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Mr. Woodcourt Character Analysis

Mr. Woodcourt is a young surgeon, the son of Mrs. Woodcourt, and the eventual husband of Esther Summerson. Mr. Woodcourt is a generous and loyal young man who dedicates his life to his career and spends his time as a doctor caring for the poor rather than the rich. He has little interest in wealth and takes a low-paying post at a poor hospital in Yorkshire at the novel’s end. Mr. Woodcourt is in love with Esther throughout the novel, although she denies this to herself, and his love for her remains strong when he returns from a voyage overseas and finds that her face has been scarred during a bout of smallpox. Mr. Woodcourt proves that he does not love her for her looks alone but for her kind and generous spirit. His name suggests that he is a solid man who “courts” Esther loyally and will remain by her side no matter what. He is also a loyal friend to Richard Carstone, whom he befriends at Esther’s request, to try and help Richard during his time of depression. Mr. Woodcourt is an effective surgeon because he makes his patience feel heard and puts them at ease.

Mr. Woodcourt Quotes in Bleak House

The Bleak House quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Woodcourt or refer to Mr. Woodcourt. 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 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:
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Mr. Woodcourt Character Timeline in Bleak House

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Woodcourt appears in Bleak House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 14
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...Ada and Mr. Jarndyce are with Miss Flite when Esther and Caddy arrive. A doctor, Mr. Woodcourt , is also present. He speaks kindly to Miss Flite and tells her she will... (full context)
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
...tells them that she has been very anxious and disturbed ever since Nemo’s death, and Mr. Woodcourt agrees this is the case. He has kindly been treating her free of charge ever... (full context)
Chapter 17
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
...dinner, and Mrs. Badger observes that Richard does not enjoy his work and that, unlike Mr. Woodcourt , Richard does not have the patience or dedication required to make a success of... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
The next day, Mr. Woodcourt comes to visit and brings his mother, Mrs. Woodcourt. Mr. Woodcourt has plans to travel... (full context)
Chapter 30
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...the Woodcourt line. She watches Esther carefully and explains—to Esther’s confusion—that, because of his heritage, Mr. Woodcourt cannot marry whomever he pleases. When Esther tries to change the subject, Mrs. Woodcourt asks... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...finally delivered, she will free her birds. She changes the subject and tells Esther about Mr. Woodcourt . The boat that he had been traveling on was shipwrecked, and Mr. Woodcourt was... (full context)
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
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Miss Flite says that Mr. Woodcourt deserves a title, but Esther skeptically says that he will not receive one for generous... (full context)
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...that her face has changed. Her only regret is that she once tentatively believed that Mr. Woodcourt loved her, but that he did not propose because he was poor and had no... (full context)
Chapter 36
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
The only consideration which bothers Esther is the thought of Mr. Woodcourt and how he will take the change. She has kept his flowers but decides to... (full context)
Chapter 44
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...face makes her remember Mrs. Woodcourt and, for some reason, this and the memory of Mr. Woodcourt ’s flowers makes her cry again. Before she goes to sleep, she finds the flowers—which... (full context)
Chapter 45
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...the port that afternoon and come across a boat which has just moored. Esther sees Mr. Woodcourt among the party and hurries back to her hotel. Mr. Woodcourt is booked to stay... (full context)
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Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
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Esther talks to Mr. Woodcourt about his travels and tells him how Miss Flite gets on. She notices that Mr.... (full context)
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Mr. Woodcourt tells them that he will not return to sea and seems to understand that Richard... (full context)
Chapter 46
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Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
...this area, which is rife with crime and disease. As morning breaks on the slum, Mr. Woodcourt wanders through the streets and looks around. He comes upon a woman with a bruised... (full context)
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Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Mr. Woodcourt asks the woman if her husband gave her the bruise, and the woman begins to... (full context)
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As Mr. Woodcourt leaves Tom-all-Alone’s, he passes a scrawny, sick looking boy who stumbles along the narrow streets.... (full context)
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Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
The woman draws up beside Mr. Woodcourt and exclaims that she has found the boy at last. Mr. Woodcourt asks what he... (full context)
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Mr. Woodcourt has a sudden realization and turns away from the boy in horror. He calms himself... (full context)
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...told to “move on” and now, he says, he will “move on” to the cemetery. Mr. Woodcourt says that he will find a better place for Jo and, after letting him say... (full context)
Chapter 47
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Mr. Woodcourt buys Jo breakfast, but the boy is very weak and cannot eat much. Mr. Woodcourt... (full context)
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George is pleased to see Miss Flite and listens gravely to Jo’s story. Mr. Woodcourt tells him that Jo needs a place to stay but that he does not want... (full context)
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Mr. Woodcourt tells George that Jo will likely die, and George solemnly assures the doctor that the... (full context)
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After this brief conversation, Mr. Woodcourt decides to take Jo to see Mr. Snagsby, because Jo has mentioned the name so... (full context)
Chapter 50
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...Caddy has a doctor and, although Esther says yes, Mr. Jarndyce suggests that they employ Mr. Woodcourt . When Caddy is feeling a little better, Esther tells her that she is engaged... (full context)
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...at all. Peepy has become his attendant and accompanies him around the city. Esther sees Mr. Woodcourt often now because he is Caddy’s doctor. She picks up from his manner that he... (full context)
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Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...the new relationship between herself and Mr. Jarndyce. One night, Mr. Jarndyce and Esther discuss Mr. Woodcourt , and Mr. Jarndyce says that he seems like a man who has suffered some... (full context)
Chapter 51
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After his promise to Esther, Mr. Woodcourt makes a point of often calling on Richard in London. Before his first visit, he... (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 to see him, but Mr. Woodcourt... (full context)
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Mr. Woodcourt commiserates with Richard and listens to his troubles. Richard tells him that he is not... (full context)
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...Esther thinks, she has never been there before—and, when they arrive, Richard tells them that Mr. Woodcourt has just left. (full context)
Chapter 52
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Esther is walking in the garden, when Mr. Woodcourt hurries towards her and tells her that George has been arrested for Mr. Tulkinghorn’s murder.... (full context)
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Mr. Woodcourt explains that George is the one who sent him to see Mr. Jarndyce and the... (full context)
Chapter 59
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...they are in Chancery Lane. Mr. Bucket begins to lead her away when she hears Mr. Woodcourt call her name. He rushes over and, seeing that she is cold and wet, gives... (full context)
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When they arrive, Mr. Bucket goes inside and leaves Esther and Mr. Woodcourt in the street. A few moments later, he returns and invites them in. He asks... (full context)
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...she will lie down and surrender to death. The letter has come from Guster, whom Mr. Woodcourt has revived, and Mr. Bucket takes Esther in to speak with her. (full context)
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Mr. Bucket knows the place, and he, Esther, and Mr. Woodcourt rush into the street and head for the burial ground. Esther is nearly delirious with... (full context)
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...horrified by the sight of Jenny, who helped her mother, lying senseless in the snow. Mr. Woodcourt looks pained as he holds her back and Mr. Bucket says that he should let... (full context)
Chapter 60
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Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...should stay there for a time. They see Ada every day and hear reports from Mr. Woodcourt every few days on the state of Richard’s health. Mr. Woodcourt says that although Richard... (full context)
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...used to. Mr. Jarndyce says that it is also good to have her there because Mr. Woodcourt comes often to visit her. Esther feels uncomfortable about this and tries to hide it... (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 Mr. Woodcourt has been offered a... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
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...a solid, honest fellow Mr. Vholes is and then throws himself mournfully on the couch. Mr. Woodcourt comes in soon after this and persuades Richard, in a friendly, unassuming way, to take... (full context)
Chapter 61
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
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...health grows worse, and his obsession with Chancery becomes “like the madness of a gamester.” Mr. Woodcourt still goes to see him, but Esther can see that Richard deteriorates. One night, Esther... (full context)
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Still, she expresses her immense gratitude and high regard for Mr. Woodcourt and, although he is disappointed in love, he handles it nobly and assures her that... (full context)
Chapter 64
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...to arrange a house, which belongs to him but which he plans to give to Mr. Woodcourt , who has taken the hospital post in the area. Esther is overcome by her... (full context)
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...that Esther would make a wonderful wife, he wishes to make her happy and, when Mr. Woodcourt returned, he had no doubt that the pair loved each other. He tells her that... (full context)
Chapter 65
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
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...Jarndyce discovers that Jarndyce and Jarndyce will be settled in two days’ time. Esther and Mr. Woodcourt decide to go to the court to be with Richard, who is very feeble and... (full context)
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...clerk what has happened, and he says that Jarndyce and Jarndyce is finished. Esther and Mr. Woodcourt hope that the news is good for Richard and Ada but are confused by the... (full context)
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...that all the money owed in the lawsuit has been used up in legal fees. Mr. Woodcourt is horrified for Richard’s sake and rushes to find him. Esther goes home to fetch... (full context)
Chapter 67
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
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...to everyone. She still mourns for Richard and sees his likeness in his son’s face. Mr. Woodcourt is much beloved by the people in the village and at the hospital where he... (full context)