Bleak House: Chapter 65
Summary of Chapter LXV: Beginning the World
On their way to the Court to hear Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Esther and Mr. Woodcourt run into Caddy, and thus, they are a little late. By the time they reach the Court, there is a crowd, and they find that the case is already over for good. They think the will must have been so powerful it settled everything, but in truth, the whole estate has been absorbed in court costs. Allan is worried about Richard, who is sitting in the Court, turned to stone. Allan tells Esther to meet him at Ada’s; he will take care of Richard.
Esther goes home to tell her guardian, and he says, “to have done with the suit on any terms is a greater blessing than I had looked for” (p. 657). Mr. Jarndyce walks with Esther to Ada’s house, and they find Richard’s mouth filled with blood; he is dying. He is reconciled to Mr. Jarndyce and admits his mistake, and says he is now ready “to begin the world” (p. 658). He speaks of going to Bleak House and beginning the world all over, but dies upon Ada’s bosom. Miss Flite, in grief, sets all her birds free.
Commentary on Chapter LXV
This sentimental death scene comes as no surprise, for Richard’s tragedy has been building through the whole book. It is the Day of Judgment that Miss Flite has waited for, and “with one parting sob [Richard] began the world. Not this world . . . The world that sets this right” (p. 659). The lawyers are the only ones who have won. As the case is dismissed, bags and bags of papers are carried out of the Court, no longer relevant. These bundles Krook would have liked in his shop where he collected the refuse from the court.