Bleak House - Chapter 53-57 Summary & Analysis

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Chapter 53-57 Summary

Sir Leicester hires Mr. Bucket to find Mr. Tulkinghorn's murderer. The detective attends Mr. Tulkinghorn's funeral, observing it with scrutiny. He examines letters, discovering some written by the same person that may incriminate Lady Dedlock. He also finds out from Sir Leicester's servant Mercury that Lady Dedlock went out on the night of the murder.

In Chapter 54 Mr. Bucket meets Mr. Leicester in the library. He informs him that Mr. Tulkinghorn knew of Lady Dedlock's past lover, whom she met before she married Sir Leicester. Mr. Smallweed arrives to demand money for the letters that belonged to Hawdon. He found them, read them, and handed them to Mr. Tulkinghorn. Now Mr. Smallweed wants them back. Mr. Bucket knows that Mr. Tulkinghorn paid for the letters already.

The Chadbands relate that Mrs. Rachael helped to raise Esther. Mrs. Snagsby also appears, claiming that everybody plotted against her. Mr. Bucket arrests Hortense. He can prove she wrote letters that accused Lady Dedlock of murder. He also knows that she tried to dispose of the murder weapon, her pistol, in the lake when having tea with his wife. The two suspects, Mr. George Rouncewell and Lady Dedlock visited Mr. Tulkinghorn, but were both innocent. Sir Leicester is shocked, dealing with the revelations on his own.

In Chapter 55 Mrs. Bagnet brings George's mother so that she can reunite her with her son. George is ready now to accept a lawyer. Mrs. Rouncewell asks Lady Dedlock for help but she has to deal with a letter accusing her of Mr. Tulkinghorn's murder.

Mr. Guppy arrives announcing that the letters from Hawdon have not been destroyed. There may be extortion attempts by people like Mr. Smallweed, who holds them. Lady Dedlock writes a letter to her husband saying that she is accused of murder but innocent, describing what happened on the night of the murder. She admits she is guilty of other offences he may hear of, and leaves.

Chapter 56 unveils Lady Dedlock missing while her letter to Sir Leicester is on the table. Sir Leicester has a stroke and is unable to talk, only communicating by writing. Mrs. Rouncewell tells him that his wife left. When he is better, he gets hold of his wife's letter but then has a relapse. Upon waking up later on, he hires Mr. Bucket to find his wife with the message that he forgives her.

Mr. Bucket informs Mrs. Rouncewell upon encountering her that her son is discharged. He finds Esther's handkerchief when searching Lady Dedlock's room. He proceeds to the Shooting Gallery to find out from George Esther's address and then to Mr. Jarndyce to ask him to allow Esther to search for her mother with him.

In Chapter 57 Esther and Mr. Bucket seek any traces of her mother around London. They give her description at a police station. Upon arriving at Saint Alban's they discover that Lady Dedlock passed this way before them. Mr. Bucket knows about Esther's contact with Jo. He tried to move him away so that Lady Dedlock's affairs were kept quiet. His removal of Jo from Mr. Jarndyce's place was aided by the bribe he paid to Mr. Skimpole. They find Liz and learn that Jenny left to Lunnun after meeting a lady looking pale and exhausted. They lose Lady Dedlock's trail, and decide to look for Jenny.

Chapter 53-57 Analysis

Mr. Bucket investigates the murder of Mr. Tulkinghorn while his friends attend his funeral. He is a thorough man that can reach any place any time. He is also analytical and hard working. The mystery is further enhanced through the detective part of the story.

As Sir Leicester attends Mr. Tulkinghorn's funeral along with Lord Doodle, William Buffy and a cousin, Mr. Bucket carefully examines the procession from a distance, observing everything in detail. His use of detective methods is admired by those who know him. Even despite the limited means he has at his disposal, his methods prove effective.

Mr. Bucket reveals who committed the murder, along with the mystery of Lady Dedlock's previous lover. Everybody wants to benefit through this revelation, including Mr. Smallweed who demands money for the letters he handed to Mr. Tulkinghorn. It is Hortense who killed Mr. Tulkinghorn out of revenge.

Mrs. Rouncewell, who found that her son is in prison, wants to help him asking Lady Dedlock for assistance. Lady Dedlock receives a letter accusing her of murder just as Mr. Guppy informs her that Captain's Hawdon's letters have not been destroyed and may be used as blackmail. This revelation adds suspense as Lady Dedlock is unaware of the investigation results.

She realizes that everything is to be revealed and she has to leave. She writes a letter to Sir Leicester describing the accusation she is facing and that she only followed Mr. Tulkinghorn to plead with him and had nothing to do with the murder. Mr. Guppy's visit determines her departure.

Lady Dedlock is unaware that Hortense has been discovered to be the murderess. She leaves and her whereabouts are unknown. Her letter to Sir Leicester is on the table and he himself suffers a stroke.

Her pursuit is made difficult because of snowy weather. Her death is foreshadowed by the handkerchief she recovered from the baby that also died.

Mr. George has been released but Mr. Bucket has one more difficult task to fulfill. He previously tried to free Lady Dedlock from suspicions by removing Jo from the area. It shows his sympathy towards Lady Dedlock, who may have been better predisposed to face her future had she known that she had support in her husband and friends.

Esther joins Mr. Bucket in the search for her mother. Their pursuit adds to the suspense of the story as well as shows Mr. Bucket as skillful and kind towards others.

The search through police stations, likely acquaintances or friends proves fruitless. It becomes evident that this pursuit has little chance of success. It has also been complicated by Sir Leicester's stroke and inability to communicate.

Although they manage to follow Lady Dedlock's journey to some extent. they ultimately become lost. The change in clothing between Lady Dedlock and Jenny add to the difficulties in finding her. They have to follow Jenny as they lose her trail.

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(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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