Study Guide

Bleak House Chapter 45

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 45

In Trust

  • (Esther keeps on chugging along. With her pen.)
  • Vholes comes to see Jarndyce. As usual, he looks, sounds, and feels like death.
  • His main message is that Richard is in financial hot water and is thinking of selling his army commission to raise funds. He's still fixated on Chancery.
  • Vholes tries to make it like his coming to see Jarndyce is some humanitarian mission since he can't bill for the visit. But obviously, if Richard runs out of money, then Vholes is out work.
  • Jarndyce is at a loss. He'd give Richard money, but Richard would never take it.
  • Esther decides to go to Deal, the port where Richard is stationed, to talk to him.
  • Ada writes Richard a letter.
  • It's 75 miles away – a nine-hour ride. (Wow, Shmoop is happy we drive cars nowadays, not horses.)
  • Richard is a hot mess. He's already resigned his commission, and Esther can't talk any kind of sense into him about anything.
  • Ada's letter offers Richard all her money if he just stays in the army.
  • He's really ashamed, but then immediately turns the situation around and decides that this is some new trick of Jarndyce's to buy him off.
  • Esther is grossed out by his nonsense, and he feels terrible for even thinking such a thing.
  • Finally Esther goes back to her hotel. She stops to check out some docking ships and sees...Woodcourt!
  • Instinctively, she runs away as fast as possible, but then she hears his voice in the hotel – he's staying at the same place she is!
  • She mans up and goes out to see him.
  • He is clearly happy to see her, but when she lifts up her veil and he sees her face, he is very sad and sorry. Esther is happy to see this. Why? Maybe she needs that last hope of being with Woodcourt to be killed off before she marries Jarndyce? Something like that.
  • Still, they chat in a very friendly fashion, and then Esther asks Woodcourt to be a friend to Richard in London, since he is the only normal, practical, steady person Richard knows.
  • Woodcourt promises.
  • When Richard comes to say good-bye, Woodcourt befriends him, but then asks Esther in an aside if there is something wrong with him. Woodcourt senses "an ungrown despair" (45.87) in Richard. Don't ask, we don't know what that means either. But, you know, obviously nothing good.

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