Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Bleak House can help.
A ward of the court is a person who is left in the care of, and appointed a guardian by, a legal body. In Bleak House, this legal body is the court of Chancery, and Ada Clare and Richard Carstone are both wards of the court. They are both orphans and are under the age of 21. Richard and Ada are descendants of an ancient lawsuit known as Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which takes place in the court of Chancery. Because of this, the court is responsible for their care during this period in which they are underage and have no immediate family member to take care of them. Ada and Richard’s guardianship is handed over to Mr. Jarndyce, who is a relation on their grandfather Tom Jarndyce’s side of the family.

Ward Quotes in Bleak House

The Bleak House quotes below are all either spoken by Ward or refer to Ward. For each quote, you can also see the other terms 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 5 Quotes

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 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:
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Ward Term Timeline in Bleak House

The timeline below shows where the term Ward appears in Bleak House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and Kindness Theme Icon
...house of her guardian, Mr. Jarndyce, where she will become the companion of a young ward in the lawsuit Jarndyce and Jarndyce. (full context)
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
...looking old woman approaches them and announces graciously that she is delighted to meet the “wards of Jarndyce.” Richard whispers to the others that the woman is mad, but the old... (full context)
Chapter 5
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
Haunting, Guilt, and Destiny Theme Icon
...the door to the stairs and tells Krook to go away; she is entertaining the wards of Jarndyce. Krook seems impressed by this and recognizes Richard’s surname. He remarks that there... (full context)
Chapter 60
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
Law vs. Justice Theme Icon
Passion, Obsession, and Madness Theme Icon
...is unhappy to hear this but hides it from the old woman. Miss Flite leans towards her and tells her confidentially that she has added two new birds to her aviary.... (full context)