Bleak House by Charles Dickens: Essay Analysis

1-  What are the most important rhetorical patterns that can be detected in the novel?
2- What type of London is described in the novel?
3- What are the key differences between the two narrators? Do they follow any pattern to their narrations? How Dickens has divided the portions of the story between them?
4- Does the other narrator talk about Esther in other parts in which she doesn’t narrate?
5- Why there is a difference of tenses between the narrators; one speaks in the past tense while the other one speaks in the present tense? Discuss in small groups.
6- What is the purpose behind Esther telling her story? For whom, she is telling her story?
7- What does the novel talk about the judiciary system in England? Discuss in small groups.
8- In small groups, compare and contrast the structure, characterization, and theme of Bleak House with other novels by Charles Dickens. Are there any similarities or differences between them?
9- Dickens has pointed out many flaws as a social critic in the novel. Discuss the points that what exactly Dickens is criticizing and what solutions he has put forward.
10- Discuss the complexities in various characters of Bleak House.
11- In small groups, discuss how Dickens has viewed the law in his social critique? Discuss how Dickens has used disease as a plot element and a metaphor in the novel.
12- What type of philanthropy or social deed can heal England of its problems? Discuss.

Vocabulary:

Chancery, Argus, Amanuensis, Bag wig, Akimbo, Apoplectic, Ward, Snuff, Traducer, Throve, Wafered, Sexton, Rickyard

From the above words make new sentences that connect a relation with the legal system, daily life, and other things.

Comprehension:

1- What other meanings can be extracted from the title, Bleak House?
2- How the Chancery Court in England is similar or different from its American equivalent?
3- What do you understand by the symbols used in the novel such as Miss Flite’s Birds, The East Wind, and Mr. Woodcourt’s Flowers?
4- Discuss the role of three characters that appear for a short time in the novel.
5- Who is responsible for Mr. Boythorn’s unhappy life? Esther? Why or why not?
6- Explain the legal system as discussed by Charles Dickens during his period.
7- Explain, why the J&J lawsuit has been used as a metaphor by the author?

Discussions:

Discuss the Chancery of Courts in England as depicted by the author in the novel.
Throughout the novel, the author has emphasized on mothers and motherhood. He has shown different characters searching for their mothers. Now, explain the role of fathers and fatherhood as described in the novel. How do you analyze it?
Discuss the role of women as projected in Bleak House. Explain their roles within their marriages.
Do Servants have any role in the main story of Bleak House? Explain.

Past Tense vs. Present Tense:

The two narrators in the novels use past tense and the present tense to narrate their story. What you perceive from their style of narration. Discuss in detail keeping in mind the present tense vs. past tense.

Critical Thinking:

Critically think and analyze the various key aspects as highlighted by the author in the novel regarding the society. The author has used different weather to represent different situations within the novel such as how does the fog represent the author’s idea of mid-19th-century law courts of England? And what other weather conditions represent the various scenarios in the novel? Why the author has used different weather to highlight the subjective or moral states?
Criticize or defend Esther’s character in a way she has been projected to us. Has she narrated her part wisely? Is she complex? Is she an ignored child? Is she trustworthy? Is she the creation of a misogynistic novelist?

Writing:

Write a summary of the novel.
Define the different themes and symbols used in the novel. Write a page or two defining all.
In your writing, explain the types of hypocrisy as projected by the author in different characters.
Write the major flaws in the judiciary system as projected by the author.

Expansion Activities:

Why the author has preferred to explain the story in the form of narration. State the key differences between the narrating styles of the two narrators.
Lady Dedlock is hiding a secret in her heart which she fears would ruin her life if revealed. Explain why she wants to hide her secret and why it would ruin her.
Highlight the nature of romantic relation found among the different characters in Bleak House.
Discuss the role of the legend of the Ghost Walk in the novel.
Explain the author’s view of the legal system at this time.