Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

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Mrs. Woodcourt Character Analysis

Mrs. Woodcourt is Mr. Woodcourt’s mother and becomes the mother-in-law of Esther Summerson. She is a friend of Mr. Jarndyce’s and often visits his house. Mrs. Woodcourt is a proud woman and claims that she comes from a noble Welsh family which is not recognized by the British aristocracy. When she realizes that Mr. Woodcourt is in love with Esther, Mrs. Woodcourt is initially convinced that Esther is not good enough for her son. She tries to put Esther off by subtly suggesting this and implying that her son is not really in love with Esther. She changes her mind, however, towards the end of the novel, when she discovers that Esther is Lady Dedlock’s daughter. Although Lady Dedlock is not really from a noble family, Mrs. Woodcourt does not realize this and assumes that Esther is a member of the aristocracy because of Lady Dedlock’s marriage to the noble Sir Leicester Dedlock.
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Mrs. Woodcourt Character Timeline in Bleak House

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Woodcourt appears in Bleak House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 17
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 to China and has come to say goodbye.... (full context)
Chapter 30
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
When Esther, Ada, and Mr. Jarndyce return to Lincolnshire, Mrs. Woodcourt comes to visit them. She takes an interest in Esther and tells her a lot... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Mrs. Woodcourt then asks Esther if she intends to marry and, when Esther expresses surprise, Mrs. Woodcourt... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
After Mrs. Woodcourt ’s departure, Caddy comes to stay and asks Ada and Esther to help her plan... (full context)
Chapter 44
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...does her hair in the mirror. The sight of her scarred face makes her remember Mrs. Woodcourt and, for some reason, this and the memory of Mr. Woodcourt’s flowers makes her cry... (full context)
Chapter 60
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
Mrs. Woodcourt has come to stay with them, and Mr. Jarndyce asks Esther how she gets along... (full context)
Chapter 64
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
...doubt that the pair loved each other. He tells her that he has spoken with Mrs. Woodcourt and that once he explained that Esther is really a Dedlock, the woman was won... (full context)