Bleak House

Bleak House Summary and Analysis of Chapters 60-63


After the death of her mother, Esther falls ill. Allan ministers to her medically, and is very concerned for her. To maintain contact with Ada and Richard, Jarndyce decides to stay in London for an extended period of time. In a strange quirk, Mr. Jarndyce invites Mrs. Woodcourt to stay with them as a guest.

Allan, to Esther's secret relief, has decided to not go on another long voyage to the East. Esther recovers, and Mr. Jarndyce helps Woodcourt get an appointment to provide medical care to the poor in Yorkshire.

Esther and Ada see each other often. Ada is loyal to Richard, even though there seems no hope of them ever having any money, or ever resolving the Jarndyce suit. Richard is declining alarmingly, and Ada fears that he won't live to see the baby she is carrying. Esther worries and frets for her.

In Chapter 61, Esther is visting Ada daily, and is hugely concerned about the young couple. Skimpole is in evidence around the Carstone household, and Esther thinks he is again having a bad influence on Richard. The silly attitude of Skimpole also grates on Esther, considering Ada's poor situation and spirits.

Esther confronts Skimpole and says that she knows he accepted a bribe for betraying Jo to Inspector Bucket. Skimpole tries to wiggle out of it, but finally decides, under Esther's influence, that Skimpole does more harm than good. Skimpole is renounced.

Richard continues to pursue his Chancery suit, and sinks into an even deeper physical decline. One night, Allan walks with Esther and confesses his love. Esther is still engaged to Jarndyce, so she reproaches herself for any delight or desire in Woodcourt. She tells Allan that she is not free to think of his love. Allan accepts this, and pledges to still attend to Richard.

Chapter 62: The next morning, prompted by Allan's confession and her own fear of her feelings, Esther tells Jarndyce that she will be the mistress of Bleak House "when he pleases." The date is set for the next month.

Bucket and Grandfather Smallweed arrive, and Smallweed has made a shocking discovery. He has a signed will date later than the wills alrady examined in the Jarndyce and Jarndyce suit. The new will reduces Mr. Jarndyce's interests considerably (about which he has not a care) but advances the interests of the young Mr. and Mrs. Carstone. Mr. Kenge is brought in for his opinion, and he thinks that it will do much to end the suit, but we have to wait until next month when court is again in session.

In Chapter 63, George has given up his business in London and gone to be the companion of Sir Leicester. He has brought Phil Squod with him to live down at Chesney Wold. He has a reunion with his brother, and meets his nephew Watt and young Rosa. He refuses a job up in "iron country" but he agrees to give Rosa away at the wedding. He writes to Esther to put her mind at ease on a small point, saying that the letter he gave to Bucket was a trifle.


The mystery plot having been resolved, a new plot -- Esther's love -- reaches a boiling point. The date is set for Esther and Jarndyce's wedding, but the love of Allan Woodcourt for Esther, which he has exposed, complicates her happiness terrifically. Meanwhile, the situation for Ada is becoming not unlike the brickmaker's wife, Jenny, though her husband is addicted to Chancery rather than alcohol. Woodcourt remains a good helper, but he is not able to save Richard. No one is.

Skimpole's exposure is particulary satisfying, especially now that he has given over to psychically torturing Ada with his "lightness."

Allan's confession of love is no big surprise, but Esther's reaction, even for a Victorian novel, is perhaps a touch too restrained. She makes her struggle quite clear for the reader, though, recalling her status as an orphan who lacked a family's care until that was given her by the generosity of Jarndyce. She feels that, in this light, she is not free to love Woodcourt, but we feel that she must do so. Her reaction -- hurrying her own wedding to one man because she loves another -- is indicative of her feelings.

The stunning discovery of the will in Jarndyce in the confusion of Krook's shop brings the Jarndyce suit finally near to its end. It underscores the irony of Chancery justice that buried among the worthless piles of documents in Krook's abode there was the key to the case all along. There is a glimmer of hope for Richard, but all the signs have pointed through the entire novel of the hopelessness of this cause.

The episode of Rouncewell going to see his brother ties up the loose ends of this functional, happy family. They are rewarded with happy endings because of their virtue and loyalty.