Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

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Richard Carstone Character Analysis

Richard is a ward of the court in the lawsuit Jarndyce and Jarndyce, as well as the cousin and eventual husband of Ada Clare. He is taken under the guardianship of Mr. Jarndyce, who takes Richard into his home and tries to get him set up in a profession. Richard also becomes close friends with Ada’s companion and Mr. Jarndyce’s housekeeper, Esther Summerson. Richard is an orphan and a relative of Tom Jarndyce, a plaintiff in Jarndyce and Jarndyce who shot himself after the long, drawn out trial drove him mad. Throughout the course of the novel, Richard, too, is driven mad by his role in the Chancery suit. Richard is a friendly, lively, and passionate young man who genuinely wants to please his friends and relatives. However, he is not particularly ambitious and has not developed any strong interests when it comes to his profession. He is easily swayed and goes along with whichever options Mr. Jarndyce suggests for him, and although he is well liked by his employers, they all remark that he lacks discipline. This trait, coupled with his carelessness with money, leads Richard to give up all three professions he takes on, and eventually drives him towards Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Richard is naïve and idealistic and believes that the case will make his fortune once it is solved. As Richard degenerates into madness, stubbornly ignoring the warnings and advice of other characters, his hopes turn into bitter delusions. He begins to believe that Mr. Jarndyce is his enemy and works against him in the lawsuit. Richard falls victim to a predatory lawyer named Mr. Vholes, who continually encourages Richard’s false hopes that the lawsuit will one day make him rich. Richard is associated with Miss Flite, an old woman who has been driven mad by a Chancery suit and who names one of her caged birds after him.

Richard Carstone Quotes in Bleak House

The Bleak House quotes below are all either spoken by Richard Carstone or refer to Richard Carstone. 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 1 Quotes

This is the Court of Chancery; which has its decaying houses and its blighted lands in every shire; which has its worn-out lunatic in every madhouse, and its dead in every churchyard; which has its ruined suitor, with his slipshod heels and threadbare dress, borrowing and begging through the round of every man’s acquaintance; […] there is not an honorable man among its practitioners who would not give—who does not often give—the warning, ‘Suffer any wrong that can be done you, rather than come here!’

Related Characters: Richard Carstone, Miss Flite
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

She was a pretty, very diminutive, plump woman, of from forty to fifty, with handsome eyes, though they had a curious habit of seeming to look a long way off. As if—I am quoting Richard again—they could see nothing nearer than Africa!

Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

‘We are never to get out of Chancery! We have come by another way to our place of meeting yesterday, and—by the Great Seal, here’s the old lady again!’

Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

A little way within the shop-door, lay heaps of old crackled parchment scrolls, and discolored and dog’s-eared law- papers […] One had only to fancy, as Richard whispered to Ada and me while we all stood looking in, that yonder bones in a corner, piled together and picked very clean, were the bones of clients, to make the picture complete.

Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

She partly drew aside the curtain of the long low garret-window, and called our attention to a number of bird-cages hanging there: some containing several birds. There were larks, linnets, and goldfinches—I should think at least twenty. ‘I began to keep the little creatures,’ she said, ‘with an object that the wards will readily comprehend. With the intention of restoring them to liberty. When my judgment should be given. Ye-es! They die in prison, though. Their lives, poor silly things, are so short in comparison with Chancery proceedings, that, one by one, the whole collection has died over and over again.’

Related Characters: Esther Summerson (speaker), Miss Flite (speaker), Ada Clare, Richard Carstone, Caddy Jellyby
Related Symbols: Miss Flite’s Birds
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Chapter 13 Quotes

‘How much of this indecision of character,’ Mr Jarndyce said to me, ‘is chargeable on that incomprehensible heap of uncertainty and procrastination on which he has been thrown from his birth, I don’t pretend to say; but that Chancery, among its other sins, is responsible for some of it, I can plainly see. It has engendered or confirmed in him a habit of putting off—and trusting to this, that, and the other chance, without knowing what chance—and dismissing everything as unsettled, uncertain, and confused.’

Related Characters: Mr. Jarndyce (speaker), Esther Summerson, Richard Carstone
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20 Quotes

Mr Guppy suspects everybody who enters on the occupation of a stool in Kenge and Carboy’s office, of entertaining, as a matter of course, sinister designs upon him. He is clear that every such person wants to depose him. If he be ever asked how, why, when, or wherefore, he shuts up one eye and shakes his head. On the strength of these profound views, he in the most ingenious manner takes infinite pains to counterplot, when there is no plot; and plays the deepest games of chess without any adversary.

Related Characters: Richard Carstone, Mr. Guppy
Page Number: 235-236
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:
Chapter 39 Quotes

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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Bleak House PDF

Richard Carstone Character Timeline in Bleak House

The timeline below shows where the character Richard Carstone appears in Bleak House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
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...be her companion, and Esther is struck by Ada’s beauty. The young man’s name is Richard Carstone. The three are left to wait in the room together and Esther learns that... (full context)
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...of Bleak House while they wait for the outcome of Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Ada and Richard, it appears, are related, but Esther is from another family and is only hired to... (full context)
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They are left outside the court to wait for Mr. Kenge. Richard asks Ada and Esther if either of them know where they are going, and they... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...aid, and manages to free him. The boy rushes away unharmed, and Esther, Ada, and Richard enter Mrs. Jellyby’s home. (full context)
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...talk about their guardian, Mr. Jarndyce. Neither of them has ever met Mr. Jarndyce, and Richard has only seen him once in his life. They all received the same letter, however,... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...in her room very early, and puts him back to bed. Caddy, Ada, Esther, and Richard then set out into London. Caddy is extremely bad tempered and walks very quickly so... (full context)
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Richard and Ada catch up with Esther and Caddy. Richard announces that they have inadvertently walked... (full context)
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...a piece of sack, which she tears to pieces with her claws. Krook remarks to Richard that the cat will do this to anything he tells her to. (full context)
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...away; she is entertaining the wards of Jarndyce. Krook seems impressed by this and recognizes Richard’s surname. He remarks that there was also a Clare, a Barbary, and a Dedlock involved... (full context)
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Richard comments on their strange experience and laments what great trouble Jarndyce and Jarndyce has caused.... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Esther, Richard, and Ada make their way to Mr. Jarndyce’s house, but a passing coach stops their... (full context)
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...drawing room. Ada sings and plays the piano, and Esther and Mr. Jarndyce notice that Richard watches Ada closely. After a while, Esther observes that Richard and Mr. Skimpole have left... (full context)
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Richard, who is with Mr. Skimpole, seems extremely concerned, but Mr. Skimpole is unruffled and cannot... (full context)
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Mr. Skimpole suggests that, since Richard is involved in Jarndyce and Jarndyce and may be owed a great deal of money,... (full context)
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...entertaining manner. When Mr. Skimpole has gone to bed, however, Mr. Jarndyce takes Esther and Richard aside and is very concerned that they have given Mr. Skimpole money. He tells them... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...has great faith in her ability as a housekeeper. He then changes the conversation to Richard’s career prospects and Esther suggests that they should ask Richard what profession he would prefer.... (full context)
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...Esther and Ada leave the women to their grief. On the way home they meet Richard. He is so upset by their tale, and the sight of Ada’s tears, that he... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Life continues at Bleak House and Esther notices that Richard grows restless. She also notices, however, that he and Ada are especially close, even though... (full context)
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Esther observes that Richard is an honest and generous young man, but that he is bad with money. She... (full context)
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Mr. Boythorn arrives later, after some difficulty with his carriage, and Esther, Ada, and Richard find him very endearing. He is a boisterous, yet kindhearted gentleman whose aggressive personality is... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Meanwhile, Richard has still not decided what profession he should go into. Mr. Jarndyce feels that this... (full context)
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...Mr. Jarndyce says that all professions require diligence and hard work. Mr. Kenge arranges for Richard to take an apprenticeship with a cousin of his in London. Mr. Jarndyce agrees to... (full context)
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...at a loss as how to put him off. She does not want to tell Richard or Mr. Jarndyce because she does not want to get Mr. Guppy into trouble, but... (full context)
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Richard is apprenticed to a surgeon named Mr. Badger, whose wife, Mrs. Badger, has been married... (full context)
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Esther notices towards the end of their stay in London that Ada and Richard have been unusually quiet. Richard is set to remain behind in London, while Esther, Ada,... (full context)
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Richard comes into the room, and he and Ada ask Esther if she will speak to... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce congratulates Richard and Ada but cautions them against getting married too young. He tells them both, however,... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Before Richard leaves for his apprenticeship, he and Ada agree that Esther should live with them after... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Richard often visits Esther and Ada, and he seems very cheerful. Esther thinks it is a... (full context)
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One night, Mr. and Mrs. Badger join them for dinner, and Mrs. Badger observes that Richard does not enjoy his work and that, unlike Mr. Woodcourt, Richard does not have the... (full context)
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The next evening, Richard comes to visit Esther and Ada, and they tell him what the Badgers said. Richard... (full context)
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Richard tells them that he wants to study law, and that he has been to see... (full context)
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Esther and Ada encourage him to tell Mr. Jarndyce about this change of profession and Richard agrees. Mr. Jarndyce takes this news graciously and assures Ada that he thinks no less... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Throughout the summer, Richard dithers over the change to his career. He is reluctant to give up medicine but... (full context)
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Lady Dedlock warmly introduces herself to Mr. Jarndyce and asks after Richard, whom Mr. Jarndyce wrote to Sir Leicester about. Mr. Jarndyce thanks her and introduces her... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...Guppy is extremely bored. He lounges restlessly about Kenge and Carboy’s and grows jealous of Richard, who is also there over the holiday but who has been given use of Kenge’s... (full context)
Chapter 23
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When they return to London, they find that Richard has been working hard on Jarndyce and Jarndyce, and that he thinks he is close... (full context)
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Richard then tells Esther that he has decided to quit the law and to go into... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Richard comes to see Mr. Jarndyce and tells him of his plans to join the army.... (full context)
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Everything seems to be going well until, one evening, Richard comes to see Mr. Jarndyce in a rage. It transpires that Mr. Jarndyce has contacted... (full context)
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Richard says that Mr. Jarndyce does not trust him, but Mr. Jarndyce insists that he acts... (full context)
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Richard’s preparations for the army are complete and he suggests that, before he leaves, they visit... (full context)
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Esther notices Mr. Guppy in the court and wishes to escape. As Richard leads her out, however, Mr. Guppy stops them and tells Esther that there is a... (full context)
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Richard sees George in the crowd and calls him over. George asks them quietly if they... (full context)
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...a scream, and the others realize that Gridley has died. The sun sets, and as Richard leaves for the army, Esther’s heart feels heavy and sad. (full context)
Chapter 26
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...tells George that he “his friend in the city” has recently done a deal with Richard Carstone, who he knows is a friend of George’s. George is unhappy to hear this,... (full context)
Chapter 35
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...He tells her how anxious everyone has been to see her recovered and that even Richard has written to ask after her. Esther asks why Richard should not write to him,... (full context)
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Esther is shocked to hear this and asks Mr. Jarndyce if Richard suspects him of thwarting his interests. Mr. Jarndyce replies that this is the case, and... (full context)
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...madness in people, she says, and confides in Esther that she sees them now in Richard’s face. (full context)
Chapter 37
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Mr. Grubble leads her into a back room where Esther is surprised to find Richard. Richard tells her that he has come down on his break from Chancery and that... (full context)
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Esther is distressed to find that Mr. Skimpole encourages Richard in his Chancery suit because he finds it very poetic. Esther leads Richard and Mr.... (full context)
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The next morning, Esther and Richard walk in the grounds and Richards tells her that when the lawsuit is resolved, he... (full context)
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Esther reprimands Richard and asks him to remember Mr. Jarndyce’s generosity. Richard seems a little ashamed, but he... (full context)
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Esther asks Richard if he has any debts. Richard says that he has, but that he does not... (full context)
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Ada writes Richard a letter and tells him that he has inadvertently wronged Mr. Jarndyce. She also begs... (full context)
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Mr. Skimpole often comes with Richard and, one morning, Esther takes him aside and attempts to talk him into being responsible... (full context)
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Richard and Ada join them, but Richard hurries off again to meet a man who approaches... (full context)
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Mr. Vholes has come to tell Richard of a development with the case, and Richard agrees to go to London with him... (full context)
Chapter 39
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Richard is in Mr. Vholes’s office and is distraught because another piece of business with his... (full context)
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Richard tries to explain that he does not doubt Mr. Vholes’ integrity, but that it is... (full context)
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Mr. Vholes tells Richard that he may rely on him and that he always has Richard’s best interests in... (full context)
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Richard leaves Mr. Vholes office and wanders in the sunshine outside the court for a short... (full context)
Chapter 43
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...and listens for any mention of her in fashionable circles. Meanwhile, Mr. Jarndyce’s worry over Richard increases and, although Ada implores him to be patient with her beloved, Mr. Jarndyce writes... (full context)
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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. Jarndyce is momentarily irritated when he... (full context)
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...very dirty and cluttered, but he eats lavishly. Mr. Jarndyce brings up the subject of Richard and explains patiently to Mr. Skimpole that he must not allow Richard to pay for... (full context)
Chapter 45
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...on his way to the house. She keeps this from Ada because Ada hopes that Richard will soon grow bored of Chancery affairs. Esther goes to Mr. Jarndyce’s office and finds... (full context)
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Mr. Jarndyce explains that he does not think Richard will allow him to pay his fees, and Mr. Vholes accepts this. Mr. Jarndyce asks... (full context)
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...in London, and Esther and Charley drive out to the coast at Deal to visit Richard’s barracks. Esther finds Richard in his room, which is very messy. He is pleased to... (full context)
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Esther gives Richard a letter from Ada which begs him to accept her small inheritance to pay his... (full context)
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...to her changed appearance. She feels quite relaxed, however, and feels that she comforts him. Richard arrives for the journey home while they are talking, and Mr. Woodcourt is surprised to... (full context)
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...Woodcourt tells them that he will not return to sea and seems to understand that Richard is also in professional difficulty. Richard hurries off to put his luggage in the carriage.... (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 must call on Mr. Vholes to get Richard’s... (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... (full context)
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Mr. Woodcourt commiserates with Richard and listens to his troubles. Richard tells him that he is not concerned for himself... (full context)
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One morning, Esther suggests that she and Ada visit Richard and is surprised to find Ada a little hesitant to do so. At last, she... (full context)
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Richard has been poring over his papers from Jarndyce and Jarndyce but is pleased to see... (full context)
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Ada begins to cry again and reveals to Esther that she and Richard have been married in secret. Esther sees that Ada has been hiding her wedding ring... (full context)
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Ada intends to remain with Richard and not go back to Mr. Jarndyce’s house, and Esther agrees that this must be... (full context)
Chapter 59
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...cold and wet, gives her his cloak. He explains that he has just been with Richard, who is very depressed, and asks if he can accompany them wherever they are going.... (full context)
Chapter 60
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...every day and hear reports from Mr. Woodcourt every few days on the state of Richard’s health. Mr. Woodcourt says that although Richard is not ill, he is deeply troubled and... (full context)
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Esther goes to visit Ada every day during this time. She lives with Richard in his gloomy lodgings, and her husband grows paler and more distracted by the day.... (full context)
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...two new birds to her aviary. She has called them “The Wards in Jarndyce” after Richard and Ada, and they live in the cage with all the others that are named... (full context)
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Mr. Vholes arrives at Richard’s a few minutes after Esther gets there, and while Ada and Richard prepare the food,... (full context)
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Richard is irritable and sullen over dinner, although he tries to be merry for Esther and... (full context)
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...notices that her friend is very agitated. Ada explains that she can see how far Richard has fallen and how ill and worn he is. She begins to cry and tells... (full context)
Chapter 61
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Mr. Skimpole also visits Richard regularly, and Esther can see that he is bad influence and that Ada is troubled... (full context)
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...Skimpole again. When Mr. Jarndyce discovers that Mr. Skimpole has ignored his request to leave Richard alone, he, too, stops speaking to Mr. Skimpole. Mr. Skimpole dies shortly after, still owing... (full context)
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Richard’s health grows worse, and his obsession with Chancery becomes “like the madness of a gamester.”... (full context)
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...assures her that nothing will change between them, and that he will still attend to Richard. He leaves Esther alone and she goes to her room to cry. (full context)
Chapter 62
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...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 Mr. Jarndyce for his lack... (full context)
Chapter 65
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...days’ time. Esther and Mr. Woodcourt decide to go to the court to be with Richard, who is very feeble and sick. On their way, they pass Caddy, who has heard... (full context)
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...and Jarndyce is finished. Esther and Mr. Woodcourt hope that the news is good for Richard and Ada but are confused by the clerks’ behavior—everyone they pass is in fits of... (full context)
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...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 Mr. Jarndyce, and they... (full context)
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Esther comforts Richard, and Mr. Jarndyce is brought inside where the two are reconciled. They speak gently to... (full context)
Chapter 67
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...gives birth to a healthy baby, and the child helps her survive her grief for Richard. Mr. Jarndyce invites her and her son to live with him, and she gratefully accepts.... (full context)
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...is always grateful to Mr. Jarndyce for his kindness to everyone. She still mourns for Richard and sees his likeness in his son’s face. Mr. Woodcourt is much beloved by the... (full context)