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Chapters VII-XII

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.

by 8davids8


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.

by Luck


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. 

(by MissJane)




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.

Speaking about 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’.


(By Asya)

Everybody who read Dickens stories will say that Dickens novels look like a big puzzle. At first sight they don’t connect with each other but it is not true. Every little piece of this novel is a necessary part for the whole picture. That is a masterpiece because not every writer can divide the whole story into million of separate events.  Speaking about Chapters VII – XII we can see how fast the plot of the novel developed. The author described in detailed the behaviour of his characters, that makes their look objective and helps the reader to understand the inner state of Dickens’s characters.

The author represents everything puzzled.  He describes in detail every little part and then glue it together. Such a style is better for reader’s imagination and the story will stay in his memory for ever.

The author used a lot of things that symbolize something. Chancery court means people indifference to each other, that is why just a simple trial will last so long. 

Dickens used irony in his novel. For example, Mrs. Pardiggle is an "incarnation of kindness”. She likes to help everybody and everything. I think that the episode when she helped the family of the men who produced bricks by giving his children books can be called character incident. And it is not important that they don’t know how to read, just this event of charity makes her be proud of herself.

Dickens is a great master of writing novels. Some critics say that Dickens had a love for the fantastic in places, houses, objects, names, character portraits and descriptions which play an important role and make a special atmosphere in the whole novel for example in the Bleak House. He brings the realistic and the fantastic together in one piece of writing. Bleak House is an excellent contrasted book. We can also say that Dickens is a master of sensual details, which enables the reader to be an immediate observer; he is also a master of metaphors and similes which can summarise the authors’ attitude to a person, institution. They play double role first of all they help to understand different characters completely and at the same time they present the speaker's state at moment of speaking. For example: "He beheld the lights in the houses, shining like stars in the dusk and mist of the evening”. "Life is a sheet of paper white”. "John is the black sheep of the family”. The hart of the story is a Chancery suit. The Chancery is closely connected with the world of the upper-class and the poor. Dickens portraits a useless court that has driven people to suicide and ruined lives because it has worked really ineffectively. And the central character of the whole novel is the common Londoner, "the man in the street”. According to Bleak House common Londoner is a beautiful or handsome, middle-aged, society woman or man. Some of them look really mysterious; most of them are outwardly restrained. If we speak about places where common Londoner lives it can be subdivided into two categories: rich and very poor apartments. But no matter how rich and poor these houses are they have something in common – the same depressing, unpleasant, gloomy and sullen atmosphere. Dickens does not make all of his characters perfect, rather he uses his idealized characters to contrast the ugly side of life that he so often portrays. More over in Dickens novel there are many actions and events and all the episodes of a narrative can be subdivided into "plot incidents” and "character incidents”. And this classification satisfies me. In the 9th chapter at lunch Mr. Guppy reveals that he is in love with Easter and wants to marry her. At the same time she is horrified and confused him. We can say that it is an example of a "plot incident”. On the one hand it is difficult to understand why Dickens included such scene but on the other hand Mr. Guppy’s proposal intended to add a bit romance and melodrama to the novel.
(By Tanya)


Collecting pieces, creating the whole...

While reading "Bleak House” one begins to understand, that the narration of the novel is not linear. It consists of several parts, several stories that seem to be absolutely different at first sight. But when we read further we understand that nothing in the novel is in vain – every detail is significant, every piece of information is important for understanding the whole message of the novel. All these characters that seem to be unfamiliar to each other, who belong to different social classes, all of them turn out to be involved in one and the same affair. As it was written in the piece of criticism from John Forster’s book ‘The life of Dickens’, "Nothing is introduced at random, everything tends to the catastrophe, the various lines of the plot converge and fit to its centre, and to the larger interest all the rest is irresistibly drawn”."The heart of the story is a Chancery suit. On this the plot hinges”. This Chancery suit seems to be an axis all the events revolve around. Piece by piece Dicken creates a whole world, it's like a puzzle game – the author manages to make a bright picture using small pieces.

How does Dickens manage to unite the sub-plots of the novel? What links does he create to connect them? What makes the pieces of the novel interconnected and interrelated? Dickens manages to create unusual connections between different stories. And the Chancery suit "Jarndcyce and Jarndyce” is not the only one point of this contact. Dickens draws a row of images to connect different sub-plots. The description of the weather leads to the description of the character and vice versa. For example, we can see it in the following sentence: "While Esther sleeps, and while Esther wakes, it is still wet weather down at the place in Lincolnshire". Esther-weather-Linconshire-lady Dedlock – this is a chain which connects Esther's story and Dedlock's one. The following quotation shows how the author unites two descriptions of two different characters in order to make the narration sound harmonic. "The crow flies straight across Chancery Lane and Lincoln's Inn Garden into Lincoln's Inn Fields". "Here, in a large house, formerly a house of state, lives Mr. Tulkinghorn”. From the story and life of Mr. Snagsby the reader is lead to the life and story of Mr. Tulkinghorn. A crow is a certain link between them, it flies from place to place, so the readers attention flies from one character to another one. Link by link, description by description, symbol by symbol, Dickens alloys sub-plots creating a multiple narration.

Another thing should be also mentioned. The pieces devoted to different characters and plot-lines are not only one means of the author's "puzzle-narration”. He also alternates the descriptions of the places and characters with the events and actions. So-called plot incidents follow character incidents and vice versa. Just remember the tenth chapter. It begins with character incidents – Mr. Snagsby' house, his niece, his wife, their relationships and their neighbour's attitude towards the couple are to reveal Mr. Snagsby' character and life-vision. Then Mr. Tulkinghorn's house and traits of character are shown. But after that, when the reader has already got all the necessary information about the characters, plot incidents come. Mr. Tulkinghorn visits Mr. Snagsby, they go to Nemo's home, find him dead, doctors come, and so on and so on. Evens follow events. Plot incidents alternate with character incidents.

Piece by piece the events are united by one plot-line. Stitch by stitch, the author is weaving his novel from colourful threads.

(by Rina)


     In these chapters Dickens adds some new emotional details to the novel. The story of the Ghost’s Walk in chapter 7 is the first supernatural element in Bleak House and adds a layer of dark intrigue to the story. On other hand, Mr. Guppy’s marriage proposal in chapter 9 seems to add a bit of romance and melodrama to the story. But as the narration progresses the layers of secrets grow deeper, and it seems as though nearly every character is hiding something. In chapter 11, for example, Mr. Tulkinghorn stays mysteriously close to the dead lodger’s coat, but he never reveals why and we don’t know if he takes anything from the coat before leaving.  In another  episode Mr. Snagsby gives little Jo some money and tells him to keep quiet if he ever sees Mr. Snagsby with "a lady,” which suggests that Mr. Snagsby has a secret too. In chapter 12, the interactions between Lady Dedlock and Mr. Tulkinghorn suggest that something is going on, and the narrator says that Mr. Tulkinghorn "carries family secrets in every limb of his body.”

    The book is going to be more and more detective-like, the more we read, the more we understand that practically every event is vague and obscure. This understanding reminds me of the fog in the first chapters, and author's focus on it.

by alex_makh

Everybody who read Dickens stories will say that Dickens novels look like a big puzzle. At first sight they don’t connect with each other but it is not true. Every little piece of this novel is a necessary part for the whole picture. That is a masterpiece because not every writer can divide the whole story into million of separate events.  Speaking about Chapters VII – XII we can see how fast the plot of the novel developed. The author described in detailed the behaviour of his characters, that makes their look objective and helps the reader to understand the inner state of Dickens’s characters.


The author represents everything puzzled.  He describes in detail every little part and then glue it together. Such a style is better for reader’s imagination and the story will stay in his memory for ever.

lot of things that symbolize something. Chancery court means people indifference to each other, that is why just a simple trial will last so long. 


Dickens used irony in his novel. For example, Mrs. Pardiggle is an "incarnation of kindness”. She likes to help everybody and everything. I think that the episode when she helped the family of the men who produced bricks by giving his children books can be called character incident. And it is not important that they don’t know how to read, just this event of charity makes her be proud of herself.

(by Megastarosta)



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