Study Guide

Bleak House Chapter 24

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 24

An Appeal Case

  • (Esther narrating.)
  • Richard is all gung-ho about the army. Much like he had been about medicine... for three weeks. And law... for a month.
  • But yet again, some complicated legal maneuvering makes it official. (Richard is still a ward of the Court, so everything has to go through them).
  • Jarndyce has a little talk with Richard, Ada, and Esther, and tells them that since Richard and Ada are so young, they shouldn't be engaged. It's better if they are both free until Richard has his life a little more together.
  • Ada is sad but thinks that Jarndyce is probably right.
  • Richard is sad and furious at Jarndyce. Esther says he will never forgive him.
  • Still, they undo the engagement.
  • Esther helps Richard prepare for getting to his army post. She packs all his stuff and together they spend some time in London making sure everything is all set.
  • Richard takes some fencing and shooting lessons from Mr. George at his gym.
  • One day Mr. George comes to meet Jarndyce and Esther and freaks out when he sees her. She really looks familiar, which is crazy because they've never met before. But it really disturbs him.
  • Jarndyce chats with Mr. George about his clients. Are they ever people who want to practice weapons skills to get revenge? Mr. George says that's happened before, but generally no. He thinks of his place as a safe way to let off steam for angry people.
  • Speaking of angry people – it turns out both Mr. George and Jarndyce know Gridley, the angriest guy ever.
  • Since this is Richard's last day before leaving, he and Esther go to check out the doings at the Court.
  • Esther is shocked that everyone there is totally calm and happy and making jokes about the Jarndyce case. That is pretty upsetting when you consider all the people whose lives have been ruined by this horrible endless legal nonsense.
  • The session is quickly over and nothing has gotten done. Shocker.
  • Richard looks all tired and worn out.
  • Suddenly Esther sees Mr. George in the court. He is psyched to see her and Richard and asks whether they know a crazy old woman who usually hangs out in court.
  • Esther points out Miss Flite, and Mr. George tells them that Gridley has actually been hiding out at his place, but ``he is on his deathbed and wants to see Miss Flite.
  • They all go, and Esther leaves a note for Jarndyce telling him where they are.
  • When they get to the place, there's a really nice old guy there. He's a doctor who says he's been called to check on a sick man.
  • As soon as Mr. George lets him in, however, he whips off his disguise. He turns out to be... Bucket!
  • Whoa.
  • Bucket knows that Gridley is in there because he's been doing some surveillance on the place, but he promises that he's not going to take advantage of the situation.
  • He's actually a pretty noble, respectable guy.
  • Jarndyce shows up.
  • They all come in to the room where Gridley is lying on a sofa. He's really not doing too well. Esther has trouble even recognizing him.
  • Gridley shakes hands with Jarndyce and holds Miss Flite's hand as she sits next to him. She is the only friend he has left in the world, he says. The court has finally broken him.
  • Bucket tries kind of a cute way to rev him back up, telling Gridley that he'll be back to fighting with the lawyers and judges in no time.
  • But it's no use. Gridley dies holding Miss Flite's hand.

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