Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Bleak House can help.

Mrs. Pardiggle Character Analysis

Mrs. Pardiggle is a philanthropist and a friend of Mrs. Jellyby’s. She is acquainted with Mr. Jarndyce, who dislikes her, and frequently visits the house of a brickmaker, Jenny’s husband, whom she is trying to convert to her religion. Although Mrs. Pardiggle claims that she visits the brickmaker and reads to him from the Bible simply for his own good, Mrs. Pardiggle is condescending and bullying in her attitude towards the family. She does not listen to his explanation as to why he is poor and why he behaves the way he does. She also completely disregards the family’s material needs and focuses on her belief in their moral corruption and need for religious conversion. Mrs. Pardiggle has five children, whom she forces to participate in her charitable causes. However, they are deeply unhappy as a result because they are not allowed to be children and cannot choose how they spend the money she gives them. In this sense, Mrs. Pardiggle is another version of Mrs. Jellyby, but instead of squandering her charitable efforts abroad, she irritates and condescends the poor that she visits in Britain. She does not really care about the brickmaker or his family and is only interested in having an outlet for her boundless energy and for forcing other people round to her way of thinking.

Mrs. Pardiggle Quotes in Bleak House

The Bleak House quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Pardiggle or refer to Mrs. Pardiggle. 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 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:

‘I’ll save you the trouble. Is my daughter a-washin? Yes, she is a-washin. Look at the water. Smell it! That’s wot we drinks. How do you like it, and what do you think of gin, instead! An’t my place dirty? Yes, it is dirty—it’s nat’rally dirty, and it’s nat’rally onwholesome; and we’ve had five dirty and onwholesome children, as is all dead infants, and so much the better for them, and for us besides. Have I read the little book wot you left? No, I an’t read the little book wot you left. There an’t nobody here as knows how to read it; and if there wos, it wouldn’t be suitable to me. It’s a book fit for a babby, and I’m not a babby.’

Related Characters: The Brickmaker (speaker), Esther Summerson, Ada Clare, Jenny, Liz, Mrs. Pardiggle
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

Mrs. Pardiggle, who had been regarding him through her spectacles with a forcible composure, calculated, I could not help thinking, to increase his antagonism, pulled out a good book, as if it were a constable’s staff, and took the whole family into custody. I mean into religious custody, of course; but she really did it, as if she were an inexorable moral Policeman carrying them all off to a station-house.

Related Characters: Esther Summerson (speaker), Ada Clare, Jenny, Liz, The Brickmaker, Mrs. Pardiggle
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 30 Quotes

One other singularity was, that nobody with a mission—except Mr Quale, whose mission, as I think I have formerly said, was to be in ecstasies with everybody’s mission—cared at all for anybody’s mission. Mrs Pardiggle being as clear that the only one infallible course was her course of pouncing upon the poor, and applying benevolence to them like a strait-waistcoat; as Miss Wisk was that the only practical thing for the world was the emancipation of Woman from the thraldom of her Tyrant, Man. Mrs Jellyby, all the while, sat smiling at the limited vision that could see anything but Borrioboola-Gha.

Page Number: 362
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Bleak House LitChart as a printable PDF.
Bleak House PDF

Mrs. Pardiggle Character Timeline in Bleak House

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Pardiggle appears in Bleak House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...expend on their many charitable causes. One of the most active of these is a Mrs. Pardiggle , who visits the house one day with her five young boys. She proudly introduces... (full context)
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Mrs. Pardiggle explains that her children accompany her on all her visits and philanthropic missions, for which... (full context)
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
On the way to the brickmaker’s house, Esther attempts to talk to Mrs. Pardiggle ’s children. The eldest child bitterly complains that his mother gives him pocket money but... (full context)
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...as they pass and make disparaging comments about “gentlefolks” who should “mind their own business.” Mrs. Pardiggle barges into the brickmaker’s house, where they find a man stretched out on the floor... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
The brickmaker, who is lying on the floor, impatiently tells Mrs. Pardiggle that it doesn’t matter how often she comes to lecture him, because he is not... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Ada and Esther feel terribly uncomfortable and the family takes no notice of Mrs. Pardiggle , who reads in their midst. Eventually she breaks off and prepares to leave, although... (full context)