Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bleak House Week 3: I’m too upset to talk about Jo.

This week was basically commandeered by Mr. George. “Bah,” I hear you all saying. “Mr. George’s chapters are booooooring.” WRONG. No scene is boring when there’s a Mr. George in it. I'm entertained when he’s begging Esther “not to desert him” as Miss Flite tugs him away by the arm; when he’s reminiscing with Phil Squod about their meet-cute (“I remember, Phil. You were walking along in the sun.”); when he’s pulling the elder Smallweed up by his shirt and giving him a good jostle; when he’s waking Tulkinghorn up to tell him, no he won’t be participating in this shady business with Captain Hawdon’s letters, good DAY, sir.

And it seems Judy Smallweed also has a bit of a crush on George, and her grandfather embarrassed her by announcing that she couldn’t be kept away because she so longed to see him. But Smallweed broke the first rule of being a helpless old coot: Don't piss off the person on whom you depend to keep you upright in your chair.
Mr. George is quite confounded by the spectacle he beholds from time to time as he peeps into the cab through the window behind him, where the grim Judy is always motionless, and the old gentleman with his cap over one eye is always sliding off the seat into the straw and looking upward at him out of his other eye with a helpless expression of being jolted in the back.
I'm relieved that Caddy is successfully married and I can stop raging at Mrs. Jellyby to care about her daughter. But I worry about the children (even though Peepy is the only one worth mentioning, apparently), and Mr. Jellyby's mental health is in further danger now that Caddy is gone. Maybe he'll meet Phil Squod soon, and they can bond over their shared fondness for touching walls.

President and vice president of the
Wall Appreciation Society.

I know we all hate Guppy, but whatever else he is, the guy is a pretty good detective. While Tulkinghorn is still looking for a sample of Captain Hawdon’s writing, Guppy is in Lady D’s private chamber telling her how it is. And did it seem as though Lady D was proud of Esther when Guppy said she turned him down? If so, she felt a connection to Esther even before she knew Esther was her daughter. Perhaps because THEY HAVE THE SAME FACE. Even Mr. George noticed that, and he’s “one of the roughs.”

About Esther’s face. Alice and I talked a little yesterday about how Esther must be pretty, because everyone is always remarking on Lady D’s stunning beauty and we’re supposed to believe that Esther is the spitting image of her. But has anyone else been picturing Esther as sort of . . . plain this whole time? We obviously can’t trust her to provide an accurate description of herself, so we have to look at what other people say about her. And other people have been dropping hints that she’s quite as stunning as Ada. This could go along with the theory that Dickens wanted to improve on Jane Eyre. He may have thought that plainness and virtue shouldn’t go together and so made his heroine a virtuous beauty instead. And I guess now she’s blind? And all the more virtuous and beautiful for it, I’m sure.

My suspicions about Guppy and Jobling were correct. They are plotting to relieve Krook of the bundle of letters he took from Nemo/Hawdon’s bag. Which is why I don’t feel bad for Jobling when Snagsby wanders up and inadvertently freaks him the hell out.

It’s a wonder you can stand to sleep in the same room where that young man died so gruesomely. Let me tell you just how gruesome it was, since you were spared the sight of it. And isn’t it curious that he was living there and law-writing for me and now you’re living there and law-writing for me? It’s almost like a dark fate connects you to him. Well, anyway. SWEET DREAMS.


  1. I neglected to mention in my post how much I love Snagsby and his belief that half a crown will fix everything, which is seriously how I feel about dollar bills, only I think half a crown was considerably more than a dollar back in the day.

    ALSO, best use of that DW gif ever.

  2. I think I'm still thinking of Esther as plain, and I've just uglied up Lady Dedlock in the process? That's kind of weird, now that I think of it. It makes SO MUCH SENSE that Esther wouldn't see herself as at all beautiful though, cause awww, her poor damaged childhood.

    *whispers* Mr. George's chapters ARE boring. Except not, except also I'm having a hard time concentrating on any chapters which Esther doesn't narrate, I'M SORRY I LIKE A CENTRAL STORY OK?!

  3. Peepy can be secretary of the Wall Appreciation Society.

    Good ol' Snagsby, freaking out Weevle/Jobling.

  4. I've assumed Esther is pretty. Everyone takes to her instantly. That doesn't happen to plain chicks

  5. I MAY have been subtly influenced by the casting of Esther in the miniseries...which is clearly the sort of actress you get when you want someone who is actually quite pretty but who we are supposed to believe is not very pretty at all. Kind of like how struggling artists in movies life in lofts that cost $3,000/month in the real world.


  6. MR GEORRRRRRRGE. *flutters*

    Just, so stalwart. I love that in a man. Also, I like a man who returns to a shady-offer-maker to be like, I've re-considered your shady offer and...still no. Don't wait by the phone, is what I'm saying.

  7. Snagsby is a surprise delight for me. I didn't expect to like him so much, but then he was kind to Jo.

  8. Haha! Poor Lady Dedlock.

    It's OK if you think Mr. George is boring. It's FINE. *clings to him*

  9. Peeeeepy! He will stroke everyone's face and make sure they're feeling good about themselves.

  10. Bless you for being in my Mr. George boat. It is a good, STURDY boat.