Bleak House by Charles Dickens
No Victorian novel is complete without someone getting sick… sometimes, several someones. It’s only natural given the state of sanitation at the time that illness is generally a feature in the novels of the time. I am still not entirely certain what Esther’s fever really involves, but I don’t want to investigate too much for fear of running into plot spoilers… I am intrigued by the many intrigues and want to keep my suspicions fresh and uninformed by wikis, etc. 🙂 Though if Mr. Guppy’s reaction to Esther’s changed appearance is any indication, this is more than a case of fever… I’m guessing smallpox? Or some sort of pox? My investigations will have to wait (though working at a medical library, I am sure I will find all manner of graphic depictions).
A crucial moment between Lady Dedlock and Esther during the latter’s convalescence at Mr. Boythorn’s reveals the connection between the two at long last, confirming what I had started to suspect when Esther encountered Lady Dedlock at the church in Chesney Wold. I remain intrigued by Lady Dedlock, but I cannot say that I felt particularly sympathetic towards her despite her moment of weakness.
Alas, poor Richard has fallen victim to the allures of Chancery and chance. I find that as the story progresses, I like Richard less and less as a character, mostly because I just lose all patience with him. I can’t hold Mr. Vholes accountable for Richard’s actions. Is he opportunistic? Yes, but it’s only to be expected that someone in Mr. Vholes’s position would make the most of the situation when faced with the possibility of taking on a client like Richard. He has no personal stake in the matter, despite his father in the Vale of Taunton and his two daughters. What should he care what it does to Richard so long as he earns his keep. I can’t exactly blame him for that. As for Mr. Skimpole, I never liked him to begin with and I like him even less. I find his “child-like” innocence far more damaging than Mrs. Jellyby’s dedication to the African scheme and Mr. Turveydrop’s deportment. These two are negligent of their affairs and their families, but they do not claim ignorance for their lack of self-control. Though Mr. Turveydrop uses his son shamelessly, he is what he is. I feel that all of Skimpole’s arguments are nothing but a clever front for the sake of self-indulgence, at the cost of friends and neighbors alike. Mr. Turveydrop and Mrs. Jellyby believe they are offering some sort of service to society (misguided though they may be), but Mr. Skimpole is merely out to satisfy his own greed.
The Bleak House Read-Along is hosted by Amanda at The Zen Leaf.