Skip over navigation

Bleak House

Charles Dickens

Chapters 51–55

Chapters 46–50

Chapters 51–55, page 2

page 1 of 3

Summary: Chapter 51, “Enlightened”

Esther tells us that when Mr. Woodcourt arrives in London he goes directly to Symond’s Inn to get Richard’s address from Mr. Vholes, just as he promised. Before giving Woodcourt Richard’s address, Mr. Vholes insists on telling Woodcourt about Richard’s money problems, how hard he himself is working, and how his purpose is to serve Richard. He then tells Woodcourt that Richard lives next door.

Richard greets Woodcourt warmly. He tells Woodcourt he has done little good lately and that he hopes Woodcourt will accept him as he is. He vehemently asserts that he’s doing his best to look out for Ada’s interests, impressing Woodcourt with his conviction.

Esther suggests that she and Ada visit Richard. Ada hesitates, but agrees. Although Esther believes Ada has never been to Symond’s Inn, Ada knows exactly where it is. Richard is reading Jarndyce and Jarndyce documents when they arrive. He says the suit is going well, but his lack of confidence is painful to Esther. He admits to being exhausted. Ada then confesses that she and Richard have been secretly married for two months and that she will stay with him. Esther is filled with pity for Ada and feels foolish for thinking Ada’s moodiness was connected to her marriage to Mr. Jarndyce. Esther goes home sadly, missing Ada, and goes back to Symond’s Inn later that night, just to listen to their voices at the door.

Esther tells Mr. Jarndyce about the marriage. He says Bleak House is emptying out, and Esther assures him that she will remain to keep it cheerful. She says the letter has made no difference to their relationship.

Summary: Chapter 52, “Obstinacy”

Woodcourt arrives at Bleak House and announces that Tulkinghorn was murdered. Esther remembers how much Lady Dedlock feared him. Woodcourt tells them that George has been accused of the murder. Mr. Jarndyce and Esther can’t believe he did it, but they admit that the facts suggest he did. All three go to see George in prison. Mr. Jarndyce tells George to get a lawyer, but George refuses. He says he would rather represent himself—knowing he is innocent—and be hanged than be acquitted by a lawyer who believes he’s guilty. The Bagnets arrive. Mrs. Bagnet insists that George get a lawyer and tells him he’s being ridiculous. When Esther rises to leave, George tells her it’s strange, because when he left Tulkinghorn’s room on the night of the murder, a woman of the same figure passed him on the stairs. Esther is shocked.

Away from George, Mrs. Bagnet tells Mr. Jarndyce, Woodcourt, and Esther that George has relatives, despite the fact that he thinks he doesn’t. She says they must find his mother and then sets off for Lincolnshire herself.

More Help

Previous Next

Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!

Follow Us