Bleak House: Chapter 64

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Summary of Chapter LXIV: Esther’s Narrative

 

Esther buys her wedding clothes, and Mr. Jarndyce goes to Yorkshire to settle details for Woodcourt. He sends word that he wants Esther to come right away. He meets her and shows her the house he has fixed up for Woodcourt. He wants her opinion on it. She begins crying at his goodness.

 

She finds he has decorated the house as she would like it, and it is called Bleak House. He says he once thought of her as his wife, but when Woodcourt came home, he saw that it was different. He embraces her saying, “I am your guardian and your father now” (p. 649). She will be mistress of this new Bleak House with Woodcourt as her husband.

 

In London, Mr. Guppy arrives with his mother and Mr. Jobling (Weevle). He explains he is now a lawyer and tells Esther all his assets and that he would like to renew his proposal. Mr. Jarndyce refuses for Esther, and Guppy leaves, but his mother is furious and has to be taken out.

 

Commentary of Chapter LXIV

 

Mr. Jarndyce, Esther, and Woodcourt would have to vie for the title of most virtuous and unselfish. Mr. Jarndyce, however, as an older, established, and independently wealthy man, has more power to do good and fulfill the wishes of others. He is like Esther’s fairy godfather, taking her from a suffering childhood, to a proper education, to a home with him, and then finding her the proper husband and setting him up.

 

Such disinterested goodness is that of a saint, as Esther says: “I felt the brightness on him must be like the brightness of the Angels” (p. 649). And one of Esther’s wishes is for a father, which he also supplies at last. She has always thought of him as one. Mr. Jarndyce seems delighted to step aside for the younger man, and the whole scene does seem like a fairytale, especially contrasted to the darkness of the other scenes and characters. So, Esther does not have to repeat her mother’s fate, after all, of marrying the old father figure. She gets her prince charming. And keeps the father!

 

There are two kinds of love represented by Dickens: the rich family love of the Bagnets, of George and his mother, of the Turveydrops, of Bleak House in the beginning. There is romantic love, as between Ada and Richard, or Lady Dedlock and Hawdon. Esther and Woodcourt will manage to combine both types in a happy marriage.

 

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