This week, for the Bleak House read-along hosted by Wallace at Unputdownables, I read until Chapter XLV. With this week’s reading, I’m going to concentrate my thoughts on two particular items in the story line that really stood out to me. One deals with Lady Dedlock and Mr. Tulkinghorn and the second deals with Mr. Jarndyce and Esther.
First off, I was completely disgusted with the way Mr. Tulkinghorn revealed to Lady Dedlock that he had discovered her secret that she’s Esther’s mother. Just with the description of Mr. Tulkinghorn’s emotions as he knew that he had Lady Dedlock in a vulnerable position. He clearly enjoys the fact that he’s able to bend Lady Dedlock to his will. It was really quite a depressing scene, because with Lady Dedlock trying to run away, but leaving her husband, Mr. Tulkinghorn decided that wouldn’t be a good idea.
Even though Mr. Tulkinghorn stated to Lady Dedlock that his main goal was the protection of Sir Leicester; however, unless I missed that part of the book, I’m not quite sure what caused Mr. Tulkinghorn to investigate this to begin with. So I’m a bit confused there with why he’s going through this exercise, unless it’s only simply a case of extortion and blackmail.
With that being said, there were two passages in both Chapters 41 and 42 that really opened my eyes that could signify a foreboding of Mr. Tulkinghorn’s future:
Chapter 41, page 550:
…But he (Tulkinghorn) shuts out the now chilled air, draws the window-curtain, goes to bed, and falls asleep. And truly when the stars go out and the wan day peeps into the turret-chamber, finding him at his oldest, he looks as if the digger and the spade were both commissioned, and would soon be digging.
Chapter 42, page 557:
…When she (Madamoiselle Hortense) is gone, he (Tulkinghorn) goes down too; and returning with his cobweb-covered bottle, devoted himself to a leisurely enjoyment of its contents: now and then, as he throws his head back in his chair, catching sight of the pertinacious Roman pointing from the ceiling.
There’s something about these two passages that caused me to think that Mr. Tulkinghorn may not be with us too much longer during the story. I’m not quite sure, but I found it really interesting especially after he tightened Lady Dedlock’s screws.
After Mr. Tulkinghorn’s revelation, I was impressed with how much Mr. Jarndyce cares for Esther by proposing marriage to her. I saw this sort of proposal coming a few weeks ago as I began to catch on to the fact that Mr. Jarndyce may have something more than platonic feelings for Esther. However, I can’t help but think that Mr. Jarndyce proposed marriage as a way to be able to truly protect Esther. Especially after he found out Esther’s “secret.”
The thing that gets me about this betrothal, is that there doesn’t seem to be any romance between the two of them. I truly believe that Mr. Jarndyce thinks that he can protect Esther from the likes of Mr. Tulkinghorn. And I do think that Esther thinks, that after her affliction with smallpox and how it scarred and changed her face and that Mr. Woodcourt may not be interested in marrying her anymore. I’m just a bit disappointed that this union seems to be one of convenience, nothing more, nothing less, and I don’t think that this situation will bode very well for either one of them.
Overall, I truly enjoyed this week’s reading, it certainly seems like things are starting to pick up!