Study Guide

Bleak House Chapter 47

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 47

Jo's Will

  • (Third-person narrator continues inducing guilt.)
  • Woodcourt takes Jo out of the slums. He buys him some food. Jo is all excited to eat but then realizes that he has no appetite. Uh-oh – that's never a good sign. Well, that, and the title of this chapter is kind of a spoiler, no?
  • Woodcourt makes Jo eat anyway, and Jo tells him the story of the lady in the veil who wanted to see Nemo's haunts.
  • The two go to see Miss Flite to try to find Jo a place to stay. Of course, Krook's shop is now gone, and Judy Smallweed tells them where they can find Miss Flite now. She's staying in Gridley's old room.
  • Miss Flite is super excited to see Woodcourt, her old doctor, and immediately comes up with the idea of having Jo rest up at Mr. George's place.
  • Mr. George and Woodcourt like each other right away, and Mr. George is always psyched to do something for Esther's sake.
  • Woodcourt reveals that the man who took Jo out of Bleak House that night was... Bucket. He completes the circle by saying that Bucket is associated with Tulkinghorn, and that's where Jo was taken the last time Bucket got him.
  • In any case, since Jo is now no longer contagious, Mr. George is happy to take him in. Mr. George's assistant Phil takes the boy to get a bath and some new clothes.
  • Everything is all arranged, and Jo tries to recover for a couple of days, drifting in and out of delirium and asking often for Mr. Snagsby.
  • Finally Woodcourt goes to find Snagsby, tells him about Jo, and gets him to come down to visit, even though Snagsby is worried about Mrs. Snagsby and what she would think or say.
  • Snagsby is shaken by Jo's state, leaves a bunch of money for him, and is generally very moved. He's a pretty nice guy.
  • Jo asks Snagsby to write a really big note when he dies, in really, really big letters, saying that he's sorry he got Esther sick and didn't mean to do it.
  • Awww.
  • Finally, the tear-jerking death scene. It's very sad. Jo dies. This recap can't really do it justice – just go read it.
  • But first, a quick Shmoop brain snack: there are a couple of Dickens novels where young children die – see for instance, Nell in Little Nell and Paul Jr. in Dombey and Son. He would write the serialized parts so that each death would come for the special Christmas edition. People loved these. Actually, it was sort of morbid – he would get fan letters asking him to please kill off some more children in his novels, since he wrote about this so movingly. Oh, those wacky Victorians.

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