Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

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The Brickmaker Character Analysis

The brickmaker is a poor, working man whom Esther Summerson and Ada Clare meet on a philanthropic visit to his house with Mrs. Pardiggle. He is married to Jenny and lives with her friend Liz and Liz’s husband, who is also a brickmaker. Jenny’s husband is a drunk and spends all his earnings on gin. He beats his wife and children and has no intention of changing his ways. He virulently hates Mrs. Pardiggle, who comes repeatedly to his house to lecture him on religion and morality. The brickmaker feels patronized by Mrs. Pardiggle and rightly assumes that she is oblivious to the material need that he and his family live in. Although it is true that he squanders his money on alcohol, the brickmaker protests that he earns so little that it would hardly cover food, and that there is not point in washing his children because the water that they use to bathe in is filthy and unhygienic. Dickens uses the brickmaker to give voice to the poor, who in his time often lived in slums and subsisted on meager incomes which hardly left them enough to feed themselves or to care for their children.

The Brickmaker Quotes in Bleak House

The Bleak House quotes below are all either spoken by The Brickmaker or refer to The Brickmaker. 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

‘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:
Get the entire Bleak House LitChart as a printable PDF.
Bleak House PDF

The Brickmaker Character Timeline in Bleak House

The timeline below shows where the character The Brickmaker 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
...despite Esther’s timid protests, insists that they should accompany her to the house of a brickmaker and his family, whom she visits often. Feeling that they have little choice, Esther and... (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... (full context)
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Appearance Theme Icon
...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 and several other family... (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... (full context)
Chapter 31
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
...Esther has finished Charley’s lessons for the night, Charley asks her if she knows a brickmaker’s wife named Jenny. Esther says that she does and asks Charley what she knows of... (full context)
Chapter 57
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
Once inside, they ask the servants if any of them have been near the brickmaker’s cottage. When the servants say no, Mr. Bucket suggests that he and Esther should go... (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
Esther tries to find out more, but the brickmaker grows impatient and Mr. Bucket tells Esther that it is time to go. As he... (full context)