Bleak House

Bleak House Summary and Analysis of Chapters 33-35


The story of Krook's death and the aftermath continues. Weevle (Jobling) and Guppy go to the Sol's Arms tavern. Miss Flite is rescued from her room, and brought to the Sol's Arms and given a bed for the night.

The neighborhood is much disturbed by the fantastic end of Mr. Krook, and the crowd pushes into the tavern. All of the Smallweeds arrive, and it is revealed that Grandmother Smallweed was originally a Miss Krook, the sister of Mr. Krook. Grandfather Smallweed thus comes to own Krook's shop. There is general confusion in the tavern, with Mrs. Snagsby reproaching Mr. Snagsby for coming in to hear the news, and Mr. Smallweed knocking Mrs. Smallweed about, because she starts to babble.

The Coroner finally arrives, and Mr. Krook's shop is shut up. Guppy goes to Dedlock's the next day, and tells Lady Dedlock that he can't get the letters, though he thinks that the letters were destroyed with Mr. Krook. Lady Dedlock seems relieved. Mr. Tulkinghorn arrives on business at this time, and sees Guppy. He is instantly suspicious.

Chapter 34 shows us Mr. George, having had Mr. Bagnet as a co-signer, in dire straights about a hundred-pound debt that is now overdue to Mr. Smallweed. George and Bagnet cannot get the money in time, and Smallweed, unsurprisingly, refuses another renewal. He refers them to his lawyer, Tulkinghorn.

Tulkinghorn, already resentful toward Mr. George, reiterates Smallweed's demands, and George is put in an impossible position. Either he gives into Tulkinghorn's request for Captain Hawdon's handwriting, or he and (and this is no small matter to him) Phil Squod will be out on the street. Also, George's dear friend Bagnet is involved in this, and he is loathe to put the Bagnets in jeopardy. The struggle is difficult for George, and if it had only been his affairs in jeopardy he wouldn't have relented, but he cannot drag his friends down.

George gives Tulkinhorn the paper, which releases Bagnet from the contract, and renews the note. He goes to the Bagnets for dinner, and the family, especially Mrs. Bagnet, cheer him.

Chapter 35 finds us back at Bleak House, and after the most serious kind of illness Esther is nursed very slowly back to health. Charley is her faithful nurse all the time, and Esther's sight is restored. However, she fears for the scars to her complexion, and when Charley grudgingly gives her the mirror, Esther realizes that any beauty that she had is now gone.

Esther asks Mr. Jarndyce to let her and Charley leave for a while to get used to her new appearance before seeing Ada. It is decided that Esther will go to Boythorn's, for he, in his friendly and chivalric fervor, has sworn that unless she comes and uses his house that he will tear it down, brick by brick. Esther and Jarndyce have a happy reunion, and Esther is charmed and warmed by Mr. Jarndyce's obvious deep affection for her. Jarndyce tells Esther how Richard and he are almost completely estranged because of Richard's foolish jealousies over the Chancery suit.

Miss Flite comes to visit, and explains how her entire family was ruined by their Chancery suit. She prophesies ominously about Richard and his obsession with Chancery. Miss Flite also tells a curious story about a veiled lady who enquired at Jenny's cottage about Esther's condition. While there, she took Esther's handkerchief, which had been saved with Jenny's dead baby's things, without Jenny's knowledge, and left some money behind. Miss Flite thinks that the veiled lady was probaby the Lord Chancellor's wife, but Esther thinks it was probably Caddy Jellyby. Miss Flite also regales Esther with a story of Dr. Woodcourts heroism in a shipwreck.


The fantastic and gruesome end of Krook casts its ugly shadow over the proceedings at the Sol's Arms, and the equally sordid jealousy of Mrs. Snagsby and the cruelty of the Smallweed family is highlighted. All is in disarray and ugliness, and Guppy has been a witness to it.

He hurries the next day to Lady Dedlock, who says she will receive him at any time, and is sad to bring bad news to her. She affects not to care, but the affair is obviously coming to a head. The plot device of Krook's demise is Dickens way of heralding that now the entire world that these characters have built up in the first half of the novel is about to come crashing down. The signs of demise are everywhere -- George's debt, Tulkinghorn's sucessess in his ruthless quest, Krook's death, the revelation of Lady Dedlock's daughter, and even Esther's illness and recovery show that nothing is going to ever be the same again.

Esther and Charley's heroism in the face of their own and each other's illnesses is a parallel to the story of Woodcourt's heroism. In typical Dickensian (and Victorian) fashion, the heroism of the man is a public dramatic one; the heroism of the woman is a private, domestic one.

The veiled lady coming to Jenny's cottage is no doubt Lady Dedlock, and the reader is left to wonder at that Lady's boldness. It becomes apparent that Lady Dedlock is getting to the point where she can't, or doesn't want, to keep up the pretense any longer. She knows Hawdon is dead, and her child is alive. She cannot have as much motivation as she previously has had to keep her awful secret, and she is in constant fear that Tulkinghorn may know her secret and expose her.

Esther is shy about allowing Ada to see her scarred face, much moreso than she is about allowing Mr. Jarndyce to see it. This is a strange way of revealing the childishness of Ada. She is to be shielded from, rather than allowed to share, Esther's suffering and grief. Ada seems incapable of handling adult matters, or even of seeing the suffering and injustice so common in the world. This is clear in her interaction with Richard as well, whom she does not contradict or redirect even though his life's trajectory is so obviously heading for disaster. Ada, though only slightly younger than Esther, is comparatively a child.