Study Guide

Bleak House Chapter 29

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 29

The Young Man

  • (Mr. Third-Person still with us.)
  • The Dedlocks are back in London for the winter. Sir Dedlock is enjoying chillaxing in his study. Lady Dedlock is bored as always. Tulkinghorn comes and goes with estate business.
  • In reality, though, Tulkinghorn is constantly watching Lady Dedlock, and she is clearly scared by him. It's hard to know what his motives are. Duty? Hatred of the people he works for? The thrill of the hunt?
  • One evening when Sir Dedlock is reading some article about how the country is going to the dogs to his wife, Guppy is announced.
  • Guppy is there because, after he had written her many letters, Lady Dedlock finally agreed to see him.
  • He's got a whole spiel prepared on a piece of paper and he does his best to be as lawyerly as possible. But we don't really have time for his slow style, so here are the highlights:
  1. Esther Summerson looks a lot like Lady Dedlock, so maybe she is related to her family somehow.
  2. Maybe if Guppy figures out that Esther is a Dedlock relation, then she can join the Jarndyce lawsuit and profit – and then have warmer feelings towards Guppy (who asked her to marry him, remember).
  3. Guppy has info from Mrs. Chadband – who used to be Esther's aunt's servant – that Esther's real name is Esther Hawdon.
  4. The law clerk named Nemo who died at Krook's was actually named Hawdon.
  5. After his death, a veiled lady paid Jo to take her around to sites associated with him – and Jo can be found right away to tell everyone about the pretty rings on her fingers.
  6. Guppy has a bunch of letters that Hawdon had on him when he died and can bring them to Lady Dedlock.
  • Whoa. That's some craziness right there. (OK, maybe we had kind of figured all of this out already.)
  • Anyway, Lady Dedlock is clearly freaked out, though she's hiding it well. She tells Guppy to bring the letters.
  • When he leaves she breaks into hysterics because... drum roll... the big secret reveal is coming up... OK, get ready now...everyone sitting down?...Esther is her daughter! Miss Barbary is her sister! Miss Barbary told Lady Dedlock that the baby died within hours of being born and then raised her in secret! What on earth? Who would be that kind of crazy?

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