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Lady Dedlock wears a cold, haughty mask because she has
a secret to hide: a great passion that led to an illegitimate child
and heartbreak. Until we discover this secret, Lady Dedlock seems
to be little more than an unpleasant member of high society, bored
with absolutely everything and unwilling to be bothered by anyone,
including her husband, Sir Leicester. Lady Dedlock seems not to
care about or have any interest in the world around her. When we
discover her secret, however, we know all this to be false. Far
from being disengaged from the world because of snobbery, Lady Dedlock
keeps the world at arm’s length out of fear and pain: fear that
her secret will be revealed and bring the whole Dedlock family tumbling
down, and pain from events from her past. Regal, stone-cold Lady
Dedlock, watched and talked about by the public as though she is
greater than life, has a very human, very messy past that throbs
beneath her unshakeable exterior.
When Lady Dedlock finds that her past is catching up with
her, she begins acting in a way that seems shockingly inappropriate
for a woman of the Dedlock name. For example, she disguises herself
and asks Jo, a street urchin, to show her the burial ground of the
dead lodger, who we eventually learn was her former lover. When
Esther is sick, Lady Dedlock disguises herself again and tries to
find out information about her by going to the brickmaker’s cottage.
And when she fears her secret is about to come out, she leaves her
jewels and money behind and flees, eventually dying on the street.
Lady Dedlock, who seems at first to have no passion, ultimately
shows herself to be so passionate that she will die to protect those
Ace your assignments with our guide to Bleak House!