Bleak House - Chapter 38-42 Summary & Analysis

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Chapter 38-42 Summary

Esther becomes busy but visits Caddy Jellyby in London. Caddy is married now, teaches dancing, and learns music.

They both go to see Mr. Guppy. Esther reveals her face and allows him to withdraw from any commitments regarding their marriage. He apologizes but readily agrees.

In Chapter 39 Mr. Vholes assures Richard that he has good prospects of winning his suit. He asks him for an advance for his expenses in the amount of 20 pounds and informs him that he is aware that his interests differ from those of Mr. Jarndyce. He assures Richard that he is going to pursue his interests, skillfully gaining his trust.

Mr. Weevle goes with Mr. Guppy to collect his belongings from M.r Krook's place. They consider the possibility that the letters they were to get from Mr. Krook are still in the shop. They meet Mr. Smallweed searching for anything of value and Mr. Tulkinghorn, who comments sarcastically on Mr. Guppy's acquaintance with Lady Dedlock. .

In Chapter 40 Sir Leicester is entertaining his guests following the election. His party lost along with large amounts of money that are suspected to be part of bribery. Volumnia admires Mr. Tulkinghorn, eager to hear his views on the subject of elections. He expresses his appreciation for the party in opposition with Mrs. Rouncewell's son. The lawyer, however, has no political views himself. He entertains the guests with a story of a lady who had an affair with a soldier. The story is in fact Lady Dedlock's story, who loses her composure when realizing it.

In Chapter 41 Mr. Tulkinghorn enters his room satisfied, only to be confronted by Lady Dedlock shortly afterwards. She wants to know what prompted him to tell her story in public even though he did not mention any names. She is concerned when he is going to reveal all its details. Her other concern is for her maid Rosa. She announces she is going to leave, but Mr. Tulkinghorn is worried about the effect it would have on Sir Leicester due to his infatuation with his wife. Unsure what to do with the newly acquired knowledge, he suggests that it is better if things remain unchanged for now. He stipulates that Lady Dedlock has to do the same.

Chapter 42 unveils Mr. Snagsby hounded by Hortense, raising suspicions of his jealous wife. Hortense traces Mr. Tulkinghorn. The French maid is resentful about being used by Mr. Tulkinghorn for her presentation in front of Jo. She demands that Mr. Tulkinghorn get her a new position, throwing the two sovereigns she received from him on the floor. She insists that she will continue with her pursuits until she gets what she wants. Mr. Tulkinghorn threatens her with jail, but Hortense departs unmoved.

Chapter 38-42 Analysis

Esther is devoted to Caddy Jellyby rendering her help when needed. Caddy gets sick but soon recovers under care of Mr. Woodcourt. She is dedicated to her marriage and manages to satisfy her husband's father.

Esther wants to release Mr. Guppy from any commitments he may feel he has. She shows him her scarred face, hoping that it will ultimately discourage Mr Guppy from pursuing her or any proof of her background or past. She wants to do it in front of a witness to provide additional reassurance of her good intentions. Mr. Guppy finds it difficult to deal with everything, but is happy to withdraw from his commitments upon seeing her face.

Mr. Vholes is Richard's lawyer and he knows how to work the system. He knows how to encourage Richard in his pursuits and knows what to tell him when no results are achieved. Richard trusts his ability to represent him in the suit. Mr. Vholes assures him of his commitment until the end.

Mr. Smallweed with his grandchildren visit Mr. Krook's premises. They meet Mr. Tulkinghorn, who suspects that Mr. Guppy is close with Lady Dedlock. Mr. Guppy quickly explains that the association between him and a member of aristocracy ended.

The political climate in England becomes difficult. Sir Leicester's involvement in politics is ineffective despite enormous need for various political and administrative reforms.

Lady Dedlock faces Mr. Tulkinghorn, who seems to enjoy telling her story in front of their guests. Lady Dedlock handles his performance with extraordinary self-control and strength even he admires. His mission seems to be accomplished with unveiling yet another secret that enables more power.

Mr. Tulkinghorn is confronted by Lady Dedlock in his room. She is distressed with the revelation although it contained no names. Her situation makes her even more desperate as she appears to have lost everything. Mr. Tulkinghorn continues to exhibit cold calculative manner in his behavior, studying her reactions and strength. He admires her determination and courage. She wants to leave, but such movement may turn out to be destructive for Sir Leicester. Mr. Tulkinghorn is mostly interested in extending his power but he is unsure what to do with the secret. He realizes that Leicester is infatuated in her and it may be better that he finds out nothing about her past for now. If she acts the way she has acted so far, her marriage can be saved until he makes further decisions.

Mr. Tulkinghorn drives to London secretly. He is always the same, expressing everything in the same manner. Mr. Snagsby seeks help from him, being troubled by Medemoiselle Hortense raising his wife's suspicions.

Hortense is determined in her retribution against all those who wronged her, including now also Mr. Tulkinghorn. She demands that he arranges for her employment by threatening him. She rejects the payment she received from him. Mr. Tulkinghorn is little concerned about her threats, making her aware that he is capable of putting her in jail. His words only aggravate her more.

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(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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