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Bleak House

Bleak House

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Bleak House, a novel by Charles Dickens, was first published as a serial between March 1852 and September 1853. Widely considered to be one of Dickens's finest novels, Bleak House has many characters and several sub-plots. The story is told partly by the novel's heroine, Esther Summerson, and partly by an omniscient narrator. Memorable characters include Lady Honoria Dedlock, the lawyer Tulkinghorn, John Jarndyce, Harold Skimpole, and Richard Carstone. At the novel's centre is the long-running legal case, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which has far-reaching consequences for all involved. This lawsuit revolves around the fact that someone wrote several conflicting wills. Dickens creates this fictional legal case to satirize of the English judicial system, using both his own experiences as a law clerk, as well as his experiences as a litigant seeking to enforce copyright on his earlier books.

Though lawyers and judges criticised Dickens's portrait of the English legal system as exaggerated, his novel helped to spur a judicial reform movement that culminated in the enactment of legal reform in the 1870s. As Dickens wrote Bleak House, the need for legal reform was being widely debated in London.

There is some debate among scholars as to when Bleak House is set. The English legal historian Sir William Holdsworth sets the action in 1827; however, reference to preparation for the building of a railroad in Chapter LV suggests a later date in the 1830s.

Excerpt from Wikipedia, ‘Bleak House'