From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Bleak House

Bleak House


by Charles Dickens

Bleak House Chapter 13 Summary

READ THE BOOK: Chapter 13

Esther's Narrative

  • (OK, straighten out your pinafores and put on your best little-girl smiles – Esther's back as narrator!)
  • The Bleak House gang is hard at work trying to figure out a career for Richard.
  • He's mostly a good guy, but he is totally unserious and indecisive about getting a job. Anything Jarndyce suggests is fine. The navy? OK, awesome. The army? Sure, why not. Law? Yup, sounds good. Medicine? Totally.
  • Esther and Jarndyce think this kind of thinking comes from two places: 1) classical liberal arts education that didn't stress anything after getting a degree, and 2) growing up with the uncertainly of this long lawsuit hanging over him (because in theory, at any moment he could end up inheriting a giant chunk of change and never have to work again).
  • Finally Richard decides that medicine it is.
  • Kenge comes over to formalize the details and tells them about Bayham Badger, his cousin, who is a surgeon, who may be willing to take Richard on as his apprentice.
  • Richard promises to do his best. Well, "promises" might be too strong a term, since he kind of just blows off the decision process and is acting half-stoned all the time. Just thinking about him as a doctor is giving us goose bumps. Good thing there wasn't much doctors could do for sick people back then anyway.
  • They decide to go to London to check out this Bayham Badger character.
  • While there, they check out the theaters. Esther is shocked to run into...Mr. Guppy! He only has eyes for her, doesn't watch the play, and does kind of a sad puppy-dog (or guppy-dog) thing in her direction every time he sees her.
  • It's way creepy and borderline stalkery, especially when she catches him outside their house staring up at her window. Dude.
  • But it's also sort of flattering or intriguing or something, we guess, because she doesn't tell anyone about it, ostensibly because she doesn't want to get him fired. Um, OK.
  • Now on to Mr. and Mrs. Badger. They are pure comic relief. Mr. Badger's main source of pride is that he is Mrs. Badger's third husband. Hardy-har, what a crazy wacko. Her first two husbands and their illustrious careers are all he ever talks about. It's like a weird fetish of some sort.
  • In any case, "Mr. Badger liked Richard, and as Richard said he liked Mr. Badger 'well enough,'" (13.40), so it's a deal.
  • That night, Ada says she has to tell Esther a secret.
  • The secret is... that Richard loves her! Esther is all, "duh."
  • Oh, but there's something else, which is...that Ada loves Richard back! Esther is like, "double duh." But, as always, she says it in a nice and sweet way.
  • The next morning Esther tells Jarndyce, who seems happy enough about it. He makes Richard promise to work hard for Ada's sake and to start taking things more seriously.
  • Richard agrees. We're not holding our breath, though.
  • The lovebirds go for a walk.
  • Then all of a sudden, Esther busts out with the information that at the Badgers' there was also a "sensible and agreeable" (13.133) young surgeon. She doesn't know why she didn't tell us this originally. We don't know either!
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 13

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...