Bleak House Summary

The story of “Bleak House” is a mixture of happiness and sadness. It has a lot of plots that run at the same time but then again, nothing less can be expected from Charles Dickens. The book narrates the story of Esther, a long lost child who is in search of her identity, and the ongoing stories of a case by the name of the “Jarndyce and Jarndyce case”. It also includes the roles of characters like Richard, Ada, Charley, Caddy, Miss Flite, George, Mr. Jarndyce, Jo, Tulkinghorn and Sir Leicester. Bleak House explains how life seems to happen to all of them suddenly.

In the first chapter, the Lord High Chancellor in London rumbles over the files of a long-lost case where two young people were sent to live with their uncle. Lady Dedlock returns home and talks to their lawyer about the case, praising the handwriting in the documents. Esther lives with her godmother and later on, she comes to stay with the Jarndyces. Then, Kenge leaves them to Mrs. Jellyby and her house is picturesquely depicted. Next, Mrs. Jellyby takes Ada, Richard and Esther to an old lady who takes them to visit Mr. Krook. There, they come to know about Mr. Jarndyce being shot and thus, they leave.

The three children end up in Bleak House, which is located at the hilltop. They live with Mr. Skimpole and Mr. Jarndyce. Mrs. Rouncewell sits in Lincolnshire at Chesney Wold. Mr. Guppy visits them and then, Rosa and Watt get to hear the story of Sir Morbury’s wife. Esther is asked to help by Mr. Jarndyce and therefore, Mrs. Pardiggle takes them to a brick maker’s house where they are assigned to bring provisions. Mr. Boythorn visits Bleak House and talks about the clashes he is having with Mr. Leicester. Guppy confesses to Esther about his feelings for her and Mr. Snagsby introduces Mr. Tulkinghorn to Nemo.

Next, Nemo is found dead of opium overdose by Tulkinghorn and Krook. The beadle comes and takes the case to court. Lady Dedlock and Sir Leicester return from Paris and come to know about Nemo’s death from Tulkinghorn. Esther and Mr. Jarndyce talk about Richard who has decided to pursue medicine at Mr. Badger’s expense. Ada and Richard come out about their relationship and Esther falls for a young surgeon. Mrs. Caddy gets engaged to Mr. Prince who she met in her dance class. They meet Miss Flite, Mr. Woodcourt and Krook. Next, Jarndyce and the children visit an old debtor.

Jo is feared into revealing the location of Mr. Krook’s shop and Cook’s shop. Richard decides to change his profession and on the other hand, Esther comes to know about her past. Caddy comes in with flowers from someone who is kind to Miss Flite. Richard spends money wildly and the people of Bleak House go for a visit to Mr. Boythorn’s. There, Esther meets Lady Dedlock who reminds her of her godmother. Jo is caught and brought to Snagsby’s. There, Mr. Snagsby saves Jo and he tells them about the lady who had bribed Jo. Guppy brings in Jobling to Krook’s.

The family of Mr. Smallweed is described. Bart, Judy and their grandfather live with a single motto of surviving and working hard. George discusses debts with them. Snagsby, along with a detective, Bucket, tries to find out more about the woman who had bribed Jo but they fail to find her. Esther is perplexed by Lady Delock’s existence. Richard is worried about debts and Jellyby’s marriage proposal is approved. Richard is taken to George for Swordsmanship. Gridley meets Miss Flite while solving the case but he dies there. Mrs. Snagsby throws tantrums during the group dinner when she claims Jo to be Mr. Snagsby’s son.

George and Phil talk about their past. Then, Grandfather Smallweed visits George and talks about catching up with debtors. Afterwards, George visits Tulkinghorn and is asked to provide Captain Hawdon’s handwriting. He consults the Bagnets and decides not to provide any evidence. Sir Leicester describes the people in his house to Volumnia, his cousin. Mr. Rouncewell talks to Sir Leicester about his son’s marriage to Rosa, which does not end up well. Guppy has doubts about Esther’s links with Lady Dedlock, who soon realizes that Esther is her daughter. Next, Caddy’s marriage is described, in details.

Charley and Esther visit Jenny and they meet Jo. He is brought back to Bleak House for treatment but he escapes later on. Esther contracts smallpox and temporarily goes blind. Jobling and Guppy wait for some letters from Krook and misunderstand Krook to be burnt when they arrive to meet. They talk about the investigation while the Smallweeds come to handle Krook’s property since they are relatives. George saves the Bagnets from Mr. Smallwood’s hook by bribing Tulkinghorn with the handwritings. Esther recovers from her illness and is visited by Miss Flite while she is living at the Boythorn house.

Esther takes care of Boythron’s bird and keeps Woodcourt’s flowers. Lady Dedlock reveals to her that she is her mother. Richard comes to meet Esther to talk about the case and Vholes is revealed to play a significant role in his drive to win the case. Afterwards, Esther meets up with Caddy and Prince in London and talks to Guppy about how she wishes to put her identity search to a halt. Guppy notices Richard’s desperation and goes to visit Krook (despite his disinterest in the letters). Leicester loses the election to Mr. Rouncewell and Tulkinghorn describes Lady Dedlock’s story in a very metaphorical manner.

Tulkinghorn and Lady Dedlock have a talk about the big secret. Lady Dedlock plans to leave, a decision he forbids. Soon, Snagsby comes to him to tell him that Hortense wants to meet him. Tulkinghorn goes to the cellar but Hortense stops her, requesting him to give her more work in order to disgrace Lady Dedlock. Esther and Mr. Jarndyce visit Skimpole while Sir Leicester visits Bleak House. Esther tells Mr. Jarndyce about her secret and learns that Mr. Jarndyce wants to marry her. She agrees after a moment of grievance for Mr. Woodcourt. Esther visits Richard as his finances collapse. She also meets Woodcourt later on.

Woodcourt finds Jenny hurt and bandages her head. Then, he catches Jo running and finds out about why he had left Woodcourt in the first place. Jo is taken to safety at George’s but he soon dies from illness. Before his death, he has his verdict jotted down by Snagsby. Meanwhile, Rosa is sent to Rouncewell. This enrages Tulkinghorn and he threatens to reveal the secret. Later that night, he is shot dead. George visits the Bagnets for dinner and Bucket joins them suddenly. After leaving the house, Bucket arrests George, suspecting him of having a hand in Tulkinghorn’s murder. Caddy falls ill so Woodcourt and Esther tend to her family.

Woodcourt visits Richard. Later, Esther too visits Richard with Ada. Reaching there, Ada to her confesses about their secret marriage. Mr. Jarndyce comes to know about it. The people of Bleak House and the Bagnets visit George at prison. George remembers something that indicates Lady Dedlock to be the murderer. Bucket, along with his wife, is seen investigating letters and the house, in search of the solution of the case. Sir Leicester comes to know of his wife’s secret from Bucket and Mrs. Chadband confesses to raising his wife’s illegitimate child. Bucket reveals how Mademoiselle Hortense had plotted to murder and frame his wife. Lady Dedlock flees after being warned by Guppy of her secret being revealed and at the same time, George turns out to be Mrs. Rouncewell’s son.

Lady Dedlock is missing while Sir Leicester falls ill. Bucket assures Mrs. Rouncewell by asking her to not worry about George. He searches for Lady Dedlock to let her know that she has been pardoned. Bucket involves the police in finding her and they try to seek her out by making rounds at her usual places. Sir Leicester’s condition worsens. George meets him and tries to relax Volumnia. Esther and Bucket chase Lady Dedlock down but she is already dead. Esther suspects Vholes of taking Richard’s money and Ada is revealed to be pregnant. Richard, too, slowly starts to doubt Vholes. Meanwhile, Miss Flite makes Richard the executor of her estate.

Esther confronts Skimpole who dies some time afterwards. Woodcourt confesses his love for Esther. Bucket manages to find another Jarndyce will at Krook’s that proves to be important. George meets his long-abandoned family and promises to give up his part of the will. He also turns in an important letter to be read. Esther is surprised when she comes to know that Jarndyce knew about whom she actually loved and is happy about her decision. He gifts Woodcourt and Esther a house. The case is finally solved and no property is left for scope. Unable to handle the trauma, Richard dies. Chesney Wold turns desolate. Only the Rouncewells remain and they end up taking care of Sir Leicester. Ada heals, thanks to her baby. Charley is married and Caddy turns out to be successful and a good mother. Mr. Jarndyce lives a peaceful life. Esther proceeds to living a happy life with Mr. Woodcourt.