Study Guide

Bleak House Chapter 52

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 52


  • (Esther still narrating.)
  • A day later, more terrible news.
  • Woodcourt comes to tell the gang that Mr. George has been arrested for the murder of Tulkinghorn.
  • Esther is instantly worried that her mom did it. She's got plenty of motive, after all.
  • In any case, they all agree that Mr. George couldn't have done it, whatever the circumstantial evidence. They decide to go visit him in jail.
  • Mr. George is surprisingly relaxed in his cell and is really happy to see that Jarndyce and Esther believe that he's innocent.
  • They ask about his case, and he tells them that Bucket keeps postponing the trial for some reason.
  • Also, he doesn't have a lawyer.
  • When Jarndyce offers to pay for one, Mr. George refuses and launches into a rant about how crappy lawyers are. He wants to get off based on the truth, not based on how a lawyer would spin the facts. If he can't get off with just the truth, he might as well be hanged.
  • That seems a little crazy, no? But he's a man of extreme honor. Or something.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Bagnet come to the jail and overhear this speech.
  • Mrs. Bagnet is all, "wow, that's completely ridiculous, and selfish too." But she also explains that it's impossible to change Mr. George's mind once it's made up.
  • Suddenly Mr. George looks at Esther and is struck by the memory of seeing someone who looked like her go past him on Tulkinghorn's stairs the night of the murder.
  • Esther's heart skips a beat.
  • They leave, and Mrs. Bagnet has a brilliant idea for how to get Mr. George to change his mind about the lawyer. She's convinced from some hints he's dropped here and there that his mother lives up in the country somewhere, and she immediately sets off to find her. Literally, she just turns and walks off to Lincolnshire.
  • Jarndyce is amazed and asks Mr. Bagnet if he's just going to let her go like that. (Jeez, she's a grownup, Jarndyce.) Bagnet is all, well, why on earth not? She's an amazing woman, after all.

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