Bleak House Podcast: Chapters 32-end
Welcome to the Bleak House podcast episode covering chapters 32-end!
In Charles Dickens’s 1853 novel Bleak House, tenacious criminal investigator, Inspector Bucket, is a London police detective who investigates a murder. Inspector Bucket and Poe’s amateur detective Auguste Dupin were the first professional criminal investigators in English literature.
Estimated reading time: 18 hours. (There’s a reason we’re devoting two podcast episodes to it, folks!) After you finish reading, share your thoughts and check out these discussion questions!
What We're Talking About in the Bleak House Podcast Episode
In Chapter 35 of Bleak House, Esther says it’s “not the custom in England to confer titles on men unless they consisted of the accumulation of some very large amount of money.” Miss Flite thinks Allan Woodcourt should receive a title for saving people after his boat is shipwrecked. Esther agrees he deserves it but says he won’t get it. Bleak House is in many ways a story about birthrights. What are Jo’s, Charley’s, and Esther’s birthrights? What are the birthrights of Ada and Richard? What’s YOURS?
Mothers play an important role in Bleak House – mothers who neglect their children (Mrs. Jellyby and Mrs. Pardiggle). Mothers who care for their children (Mrs. Bagnet and Mrs. Rouncewell). Mothers who don’t know they have children (Lady Dedlock). Mother figures who torment their children (Mrs. Barbary).
How do good and bad parenting affect children? How has being parentless and unloved affected Esther and Jo? Why doesn’t Mr. Woodcourt adopt his mother’s pretensions? How do Mr. Turveydrop and Mr. Skimpole draw their children into their delusions? And why do Mrs. Jellyby’s and Mrs. Pardiggle’s children rebel?
Mr. Bucket is a professional detective who investigates a series of mysterious events. He’s stealthy, observant, polite, and compassionate. He’s discretion itself and accustomed to the most delicate of missions. He appears out of nowhere, moves deceptively through the streets, and sees what others can’t. Is Bucket a compassionate guy doing a difficult job or a cold-hearted cop who simply pretends to be kind and understanding?
For years, Lady Dedlock complained of hearing the footsteps of the Dedlock family ghost on the Ghost’s Walk—the steps that foretell death. And that foretelling comes true. Does Dickens condemn Lady Dedlock? She made one fateful mistake prior to knowing Sir Dedlock, yet the her secret can ruin her and the Dedlock line. Did Dickens name her Honoria ironically? Did he agree with her “guilty” verdict? Or did he really find her honorable and trapped in an impossible situation?
Inspector Bucket allowed his arrest of Mr. George to lull his chief suspect into a false sense of security. Dickens also misleads readers about who is about to be arrested, leading readers to believe he’s going to arrest Lady Dedlock. Thoughts?
December 1, 2022
Sarah and Carolyn think Victorian Melbourne was delightful. So, who committed the hansom cab murder? You’ll have to listen to the Fergus Hume podcast to find out. Or you can find out by reading the book. Here’s an idea: Read the book AND listen to the podcast episode!Listen →
August 28, 2022
Sarah and Carolyn decide to book one-way tickets to Melbourne because Fergus Hume’s 1886 novel is just that good. The mysteries are aplenty, and the Australian setting is pure delight. Who committed the murder in the hansom cab – and why? So many twists, turns, and red herrings …Listen →
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Sarah and Carolyn dig into the second part of Wilkie Collins’ 1868 novel, The Moonstone. Who stole the Indian gem from the young woman who inherits it from the guy who initially stole it. (You tracking?) The second part (second period) is called The Discovery of the Truth. It's SO good!Listen →