Tea Tonic and Toxin: Mystery and Thriller Podcast and Book Club

Bleak House: Charles Dickens Podcast

Bleak House - 32-End - Charles Dickens Podcast

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.


How to read itBuy it on Amazon, buy a copy at your favorite used bookstore, or read it for free (courtesy of Project Gutenberg).


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?

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