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Extra resources for Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Example text

It kills Tom Jarndyce, Gridley, Miss Flite's family and Richard Carstone, and does nothing to help Jo or Trooper George Rouncewell. The dilapidated slum, Tom-all-Alone's, 'is in Chancery, of course' (Chapter 16), but Chancery does nothing to help the miserable wretches who live there. The law, established to provide justice for all, and in the case of the High Court of Chancery especially set up to protect the rights of individuals, was so inordinately slow and so expensive that it brought misery instead of justice or mercy.

Commentary This chapter continues to unfold the mystery of Hawdon's identity and his connection with Lady Dedlock, and further complications are engendered by Tulkinghorn's angry words at the close. The Bagnets represent another force for responsibility and love in the novel, and Mrs Bagnet's housekeeping almost has a symbolic quality. Dickens treats the Bagnets with comic affection, for, though they represent one of the happiest marriages in the novel, Mr Bagnet obviously feels the need to pretend that he is in charge, rather than his wife!

But George is glad he did not help, fearing that Hawdon would have been imprisoned for debt, and believing that he is already dead. Mter smoking a pipe with the Smallweeds, George makes his way home to his shooting gallery near Leicester Square. Commentary New characters, the Smallweeds and Trooper George, are introduced, who are to have important bearings on the plot, though the connection between Hawdon and earlier events is still obscure at this stage. The Smallweed family are among Dickens's most powerful examples of the grotesque in Bleak House, the grandfather's treatment of his aged wife being both comical and frightening.

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