Study Guide

Bleak House Chapter 42

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 42

In Mr. Tulkinghorn's Chambers

  • (Third-person narrator still going.)
  • Tulkinghorn leaves Chesney Wold and goes back to his office in London.
  • There he finds Snagsby, who is all worried and flummoxed and generally in a state of confusion and bewilderment.
  • He tells Tulkinghorn that Hortense has been lurking around the neighborhood. Somehow she got Snagsby's name and now she's constantly coming into his shop. This is unpleasant in and of itself, but even more so because of Mrs. Snagsby's suspicions and jealousy.
  • Tulkinghorn tells Snagsby to send Hortense to him next time he sees her and promises to get rid of her.
  • What do you know – she comes to the office five minutes later.
  • She is totally furious – like, teeth-gnashingly so. It's hard to know what she's so angry about, but mostly it seems to be because Tulkinghorn never found her a job.
  • She promises that if he does, she'll do whatever he wants to bring Lady Dedlock down.
  • Tulkinghorn is feeling just a little threatened by her, but mostly he's upset that she even knows that he wants to bring Lady Dedlock down in the first place.
  • He tells her to go away.
  • Then he threatens to have her locked up in jail, saying she won't be able to get out for a long, long time.
  • She threatens him back again, but not with anything specific (she just comes off as a little bit psycho). She's so mad that she just repeats whatever he says back to him in an angry voice. It's like a really nasty game of "I know you are, but what am I?"
  • Finally she leaves, and he has a glass of wine.

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