I am so thoroughly engrossed in Charles Dickens’ novel, Bleak House, that I’ve gone ahead of the schedule set for us by Amanda at Zen Leaf, our hostess for this read along. As I write these thoughts, it is only September 6, but I’ve had a vacation for Labor Day, and I’ve been reading pages by the hundreds all day on the couch.
As I complete these chapters, I find myself contemplating the role of parenthood that Dickens portrays in this novel. Caddy Jellyby’s mother is a useless example of motherhood as she lets her children squall on the cold stone floor of the kitchen while she opens innumerable letters pertaining to who has gone, or is going, to Africa. The betterment of the human race is her focus, while completely neglecting her responsibilities to her own family.
Contrasting with her, but in a different way as he cares for nothing but Deportment, is Mr. Turveydrop, Sr. He is the dance instructor’s son, one who is very elegant, with quality things, and the perfect epitome of Deportment if that means sitting on a couch before one’s tea and whining.
My favorite, of course, is the guardian Mr. Jarndyce. We do not fully know his relationship to Esther Summerson, yet, except to say how clear it is that he loves and cares for her in action and deed more than in words. He has just taken in Charley to be Esther’s maid, rescuing the former from the garret she was barely maintaining for her brother and baby sister on their parents’ death. Good is he to these three children, better yet to Esther.
I wonder if he’s her father? I wonder if Lady Dedlock is her mother? This is yet to be discovered; all I can say with certainty is I’m glad that neither Mrs. Jellyby nor Mr. Turveydrop are of any relation to Esther. Or, for that matter, me.
p.s. I believe that Amanda from Zen Leaf, our hostess, is not posting for Chapters 20-25 due to all the activities for BBAW. However, posts will resume for our readings next week.