Bleak House: Chapter 67

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 Summary of Chapter LXVII: The Close of Esther’s Narrative

 

Esther ties up the loose ends. Esther has been the mistress of the new Bleak House for seven years, and she and Allan have two daughters. Ada and her baby, Richard, now live with Mr. Jarndyce. Charley Neckett marries a miller; Tom is apprenticed to the miller; Emma is Esther’s new maid. Caddy Jellyby is now the main proprietor of the dance studio, since Prince is lame. Their baby is deaf and blind, but Caddy manages. Her mother is tired of Boorioboola-Gha and now champions the right of women to sit in Parliament.

 

Mr. Jarndyce is loved by all, a guardian to Ada and her son, best friend of Woodcourt, Esther’s father, “as if he were a superior being” (p. 664). The local people love Woodcourt as their doctor, and they praise Esther. Allan thinks his wife is prettier than she ever was.

 

Commentary on Chapter LXVII

 

Dickens has dragged the reader through some dark places, many deaths, and yet he ends with the feeling that though there is loss, there is continuity as well. He is the poet of family life, and the characters, though they may seem to meet by chance, tend to become deeply attached to one another and one another’s families. Their fates intertwine, and the survivors carry on, for the most part, cheerfully.  Dickens may satirize institutions, like the Court of Chancery, but the true strength of the country, he implies, is in the personal and caring relationships of ordinary citizens. As long as people are true and loyal to one another with the sort of unselfish love of a Mr. Jarndyce, the social fabric will hold, despite rotten institutions.

 

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