To start describing chapters 7-12 I at first would
like to define the author’s position in the book and in these chapters being a
part of the book. All the details in the Bleak House make the reader more
involved into the plot, thus making him think over what is happening, to use
logic and find connections between events. Dickens’s manner is not steady. At
times he uses past time to interpret things and sometimes he relies upon the
present even if things presuppose the use of continuous. This manner leads to vividness
even more involving than the use of continuous. More than that, it is the
expression of some kind of irony through syntax. Concerning the characters I
should say that Dickens usually treats them objectively not showing his
attitude to them. When we deal with Esther’s narration we rely on her
understanding of events, and Dickens doesn’t reveal his own personal attitude but
he takes the part of Esther. When he speaks from his own he is constantly
ironic, but still gives a few details of his point of view. This ironic narration
can’t be called objective, but it lacks subjectiveness as well.
There is a classification that divides all episodes in
the book into plot episodes and character episodes. Though there can be those
that feature both kinds. Let’s consider some episodes form the chapters under
discussion. If we regard the episode with Mr. Guppy’s proposal we may define it
as a plot incident. The episode involves the conversation between Esther and Mr.
Guppy, which ends with refusal and it is surely an event that is supposed to move
the reader towards through the plot. The same thing happens with the episode
with Mrs. Pardiggle and her children. Through dialogue and Esther’s thoughts
towards her we apprehend this character. So in this aspect we may say that this
episode has both functions mentioned in the above classifications. To mention
the episodes that have only character revealing function and no flow of events
we may recall the story of Esther about her step-mother and about Mrs/ Jellyby
who is discussed by many characters at different moments of the book.
What is the main idea of narration? I guess now we can
answer this question: the plot lines move fast and make the reader be
interested in narration itself. But at the same time we come across the
so-called "character-incidents”. And the very description of the characters and
their life helps us to study human nature and human behavior. For example
Esther: she communicates with other people a lot and while mixing with the
other people her nature opens to the reader. Though I must admit that some
episodes may have both functions.
So how do you think why does the author present
everything logically, why is it found that all events are closely connected
with each other? I suppose that the author tried to make the reader understand
every event very thoroughly, calculate every action and every detail and come
to a logical conclusion.
The next question that interests me very much is why
do we meet so many characters in the book? I suppose the author wanted to
connect different life situations with each other, that is why he introduces people
of different social statuses, people who lead their life as they want or as
they have to lead it. The plot lines are mixed with each other and that
produces some special effect. And that is that special "life of Dickens”.
And all the time the author makes us, readers, remain
in the middle of the crowd, in the very action, because his manner of writing,
of explaining things makes the reader’s eye "travel” from one object to
another, from one scene to another. It sometimes seems that the author tries to
give us minute details. Due to a number of technical devices Dickens creates a
definite rhythm of the scene, which is very important in rendering his message.
Dickens used in his works a tendency
which can be called "a novel synecdoche” (this is my definition) because he
made the readers concern for the part rather than the whole. An event leads
closely to the next event. The separate incidents have been planned with a
more studied consideration so that the general result is achieved. Dickens had
been always conscious of the way he structured his literary works – he used a
fragmentary technique which presents each chapter as a separate piece of
narration capable of attracting the readers close attention.
Possessing a certain degree of
completeness, all the plot incidents and character incidents take turns in
order to present the whole diversified picture. The tendency of composing a
story piecemeal helps to give a sufficient account for the characters’ nature.
Mr. Guppy’s proposal could be
considered both a plot incident and a character incident. We got acquainted
with Mr. Guppy some chapters ago but we were not given a satisfactory
description of the personage. Only here he is presented with the whole
subtleness and perfection of style. More over in this episode we are facing a
new sort of the main heroine – new Esther Summerson. Her dignity is wounded,
her pride is hurt. She tries to be impassive in her judgments towards the man
who proposes to her. But in any case she states without hesitation that the
very idea of binding herself with this man is probable under no circumstances.
Along with the plot development the story of the both characters is presented. In
fact, the lion’s share of the author’s observations is dedicated to the study
of human nature.
The success of Dickens’ novels can be
attributed to two things: to his plotting and to the use of manifold literary
devices. These literary devices seem to be like a silver thread in the
embroidered canvas of the narrative. Each tiny piece of description abounds in
sensual details. "It has rained so hard and rained so long down in Lincolnshire that Mrs.
Rouncewell, the old housekeeper at Chesney Wold, has several times taken off
her spectacles and cleaned them to make certain that the drops were not upon
the glasses”. The weather is a difficult thing to give any depiction of.
What can an ordinary person say about rain? Use a trivial phrase "it’s raining
cats and dogs”? No, Dickens is more elaborate in his means of description. It
is raining outside, but the housekeeper’s spectacles are also wet as if it were
raining in the house.
"She <…> had the effect of
wanting a great deal of room. And she really did, for she knocked down
little chairs with her skirts that were quite a great way off”. How would
you describe a stout and corpulent woman who is always clumsy and awkward? Use
a hyperbole? Perhaps. Just put your character into the position where all the
movements cause disaster, where the character could be seen as a tornado
sweeping everything on its way.
Sensual details are supplemented
with genuine metaphors which provide a colourful ground for comparison. "He showed
himself exactly as he was ‑ incapable of anything on a limited scale, and firing
away with those blank great guns because he carried no small arms”. Mr.
Boythorn’s behaviour and speech are compared with heavy artillery, the sound of
which can be clearly heard at a great distance and easily recognized. Mr.
Boythorn looks like just the same "great guns” – unable to be cunning or
stealthy, always explicit in his manners and words, open-hearted and straight
in judgments and assessments.
The narration is flashy with
repetitions as well. "We have been misdirected, Jarndyce, by a most abandoned ruffian, who told us to take
the turning to the right instead of to the left. <…> He is the most intolerable scoundrel on the face of
the earth. <…> His father must have been a most consummate villain, ever to have such a son”. These are the examples
of semantic repetitions; the author used synonymic expressions in order to make
the character’s speech more dramatic and his indignation more vivid.
But a reader, indulging himself in
various artistic devices, also anticipates a great mystery in the novel.
Dickens filled each episode with foreboding details that prompt to the further
thrilling development of the story.
In chapters 7-12
Charles Dickens focuses mainly on "character” incidents. The plot of the story
is not developing rapidly. Vice versa.
In these chapters
the author manages (again) to be very convincing, very emotional and rather
sentimental. I would like to comment upon the episode, into which Mrs.
Pardiggle, Esther and Ada
are involved. Most of all do I remember this episode, the episode with the dead
child. When Ada
touches the baby she understands that he is dead. And she cries, shouts, ‘O Esther, my love, the little thing! The
suffering, quiet, pretty, little thing! I am so sorry for it. I am so sorry for
the mother. I never saw a sight so pitiful as this before! O, baby, baby!’
After these words Mrs. Pardiggle burst into tears. Frankly speaking, I was on
the brink of crying as well. Dickens is definitely a perfect observer of human
nature. He knows how to touch one on the raw.
Dickens’s writing style I would again like to stress that it is rather special.
It is impossible to read his story in parts. It should be read from the very
beginning to the very end. Dickens is like a bible to the linguist. The
language is full of imagery, of stylistic devices and figures of speech.
Moreover, his writing style is complicated and serves a perfect example of the
literary English language. But to gain the understanding of his style, one
should read the novel from the very beginning to the very end. Very
attentively. Otherwise one will understand nothing. A whole variety of
characters, sustained metaphors, repetitions must be analyzed thoughtfully and
carefully. As for the characters, they multiply as the tale advance. But they
all help directly in the chain of small things to lead to Lady Dedlock’s death.
They make the story true to life, detailed and all the characters become
‘round’ rather than ‘flat’.