"Bleak House" Synopsis

Essay by Kathryn_J_SeverusHigh School, 11th gradeA+, September 2006

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The narrator for more than half the book, Esther Summerson, is an orphan left in the care of her guardian, John Jarndyce. She later discovers who her parents are. The Court of Chancery disputes over the Jarndyce inheritance at their leisure, making a decision on the appointed person to receive the inheritance.


1. Unjust courts bring oppression.

Oppression can be felt surrounding peoples' lives, depicted in the "fog everywhere" (5) and especially in the Court of Chancery where "Never can there come a fog too thick . . . with the groping and floundering condition which the High Court of Chancery . . . so exhausts finances, patience, courage, hope; so overthrows the brain and breaks the heart" (6-7). The oppressiveness of the Court of Chancery and society, with their main focus on money, makes for a dreary life.

2. The abandonment of parental responsibility is detrimental to the future life of the child.

Herold Skimpole betrays his daughter, Jo, for a bribe. Skimpole explains to Esther that, "'You know I don't pretend to be responsible. I never could do it. Responsibility is a thing that has always been above me . . .'" (727). Mrs. Jellyby is too preoccupied with business to notice her husband and children. She treats Caddy more like an employee than a daughter. Mr. Turverydrop has been supported four years by his wife, and then by his son, Prince. Prince and Caddy never have healthy relationships with their parents, so when Turverydrop consents to Caddy and Prince's marriage, they are "as much overcome with thankfulness as if, instead of quartering himself upon them for the rest of his life, he were making some munificent sacrifice in their favor" (294). Through the failure of the parents, and lack of attention given, the parents insure their...