Study Guide

Bleak House Chapter 49

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 49

Dutiful Friendship

  • (On and on with the third-person narrator.)
  • Oh, finally, a little comic relief!
  • It's Mrs. Bagnet's birthday and she gets the full treatment: food badly prepared by her husband, house badly cleaned by her children, and a little party afterwards.
  • She loves it, Mr. Bagnet loves it, the kids love it – they are an amazingly happy and normal family, and it's a huge relief to just read about some non-dysfunctional people for a change.
  • Oh, but here comes Mr. George to join the party, and we're back to the Dickensian horrors.
  • He's trying to be cheerful, but he's pale and shaking and generally not OK.
  • He says he's sad because of Jo's death and because it makes him think of Gridley's death too.
  • The Bagnets try to comfort him, when into the house pops...Bucket!
  • Bucket does an amazing, elaborate routine of pretending (without actually saying so) to be one of Mr. George's old friends who just happened to see him as he was walking by.
  • Bucket is charming, loves kids, and generally makes himself the life of the party. The Bagnets love him, and they assume that he's very good friends with Mr. George.
  • Even Mr. George is kind of buying it. The reason Bucket's thing is so believable is that he really does seem like a nice enough guy, not a phony. Plus, honestly, there's no way not to like the Bagnets.
  • Finally Mr. George gets up to leave and Bucket says he'll walk with him.
  • Outside Bucket quickly corners Mr. George and places him in custody...for Tulkinghorn's murder!
  • Lots of bad circumstantial evidence here: Mr. George was hanging around Tulkinghorn's place a lot, and Tulkinghorn yelled at him that one time he came after business hours.
  • Also, Mr. George has no alibi and admits that he was there at Tulkinghorn's door at the time of the shooting.
  • Bucket slaps on the handcuffs, covers them with Mr. George's cloak for dignity's sake, and leads him away.

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