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Archived Group Reads 2012 > Bleak House Chapters 8~10

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Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Published in May 1862
For discussion of these chapters


message 2: by LauraT (last edited Nov 14, 2011 03:29AM) (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 497 comments oops wrong discussion!!!


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) The growlery. Haha! I think we all could use one of those!
I don't get Jarndyce's fascination with the wind. Why do you suppose when Esther had the opportunity to ask Mr Jarndyce anything she wished, she didn't. Did she not want to know about her parents?

In chapter 8, we meet another do gooder, Mrs Pardiggle and her "lovely" children. Here is another case of poor parenting. Mrs P is so full of her mission, she does not see that she is hated by the people she is trying to help (?) as well as her children. "There are two classes of charitable people, one the people who did a little and make a great deal of noise (guess who belongs here?) the other the people who did a great deal, and make little noise." (could this be Mr Jarndyce?)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 628 comments I think we all need growleries.


message 5: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Nov 19, 2011 08:20AM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) So love is in the air as it seems like Richard and Ada are in love, but I do detect a tiny bit of jealousy in Esther, although she has or had a chance of love with Mr Guppy ( oh what a name!). Did anyone think this proposal came from out of the blue? Is seemed so quick even for the speed in which Victorian novels seem to handle relationships at times. Esther also seems to be a bit "annoyed" with Richard as she speaks of his ways with handling money.

The arrival of Mr Boythorn brings some fun into the setting. He seems to be such a jolly
sort with his pet canary and all. I liked him a lot better than Skimpole. He struck me as a what you see is what you get type character., while there is something too unnerving about Skimpole and his child like behavior.

Chapter 10 leaves us with another of Dickens' cliffhangers. Who is this Nemo and why is the next chapter called "Our Dear Brother?" (I had the advantage Dickens readership didn't. They would have had to wait a month to know this!)


message 6: by Katie (new)

Katie (katies_books) | 21 comments The Growlery was awesome. :)

Mr. Guppy's proposal definitely came out of the blue. I thought Esther could have had a little more compassion -- she couldn't get him out of that room fast enough!

Marialyce wrote: ...the other the people who did a great deal, and make little noise." (could this be Mr Jarndyce?)

Dickens might be referring to Ada and Esther. Their charity to the Brickmaker's wife was quiet and unassuming, but so heartfelt.

Mrs. Jellyby and Mrs. Pardiggle could do so much good by focusing on their families instead of people they barely know (or don't know at all). But I think there is an underlying need in both women to make a positive impact on the world -- not just in their homes, but for their country and their countrymen -- which is admirable.


message 7: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Nov 20, 2011 03:04PM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Do you think, Katie, that sometimes do gooders just ignore those around them , like family and friends, in order to furfill their passion? These women make me think of the story of the shoemaker's children. I guess I am wondering if you neglect your family in the name of helping others, are you really ever doing good?


message 8: by Katie (new)

Katie (katies_books) | 21 comments That's an interesting question. Keeping the Jellybys and Pardiggles in mind, I don't think either of those mothers feels she is ignoring or neglecting her family. Definitely not Mrs. Pardiggle! But both of them have blinders on, of sorts. They are so focused on their work that they can't see what's obvious to everyone else around them. The Pardiggle children make those sour faces all the time and Mrs. Pardiggle is perfectly oblivious.

I'm still trying to figure out what Dickens is trying to say with all this: if you neglect your family for others, are you really doing good? From the story, I would infer that while you might be doing good for others (although Mrs. Pardiggle and Mrs. Jellyby aren't), that good is canceled out by the harm done to the neglected children. So, the two mothers are trading possible good done to someone somewhere, for definite harm done to their families at home. And, I think Dickens is saying, that is a very bad trade.

I would be really interested to hear how you, Marialyce, and everyone else is interpreting poor-parenting examples in the novel.


message 9: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Johnson (jrjohnson1408) I don't really see them as wanting to do good as much as wanting to be seen doing good. Their parenting skills are deplorable, but so is their charity work. I am seeing them mainly as a contrast to Mr. Jarndyce who really does do good deeds and shies away from all praise.


message 10: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Nov 20, 2011 07:43PM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Jackie, I do think you have nailed it right. There are some people who want all their good works to be known by others, while there are others who hide their light under a rock.

I am not quite sure right now how Dickens feels about parenting techniques or lack of them....perhaps he is trying to tell us it is most important to look to our own first and then move out into the world. In the few books I have read by Dickens, it has seemed to me that he values family relationships and sees dutiful and loving children and parents as having immense value.

Maybe he is trying to warn us to be true to those we should hold the closest because it is horrible to neglect a child especially if that child "belongs" to us. ...and yes, Katie, that is an awful trade off.


message 11: by Sherin (new)

Sherin Punnilath (shery_7) | 10 comments For a moment, I thought wiglomeration was a real word!


message 12: by Valetta (last edited Nov 21, 2011 02:43AM) (new)

Valetta | 27 comments Oops, I've been away from my pc for a couple of days and I've missed the beginning of the discussion :(

Jackie Renee wrote: "I don't really see them as wanting to do good as much as wanting to be seen doing good. Their parenting skills are deplorable, but so is their charity work. I am seeing them mainly as a contrast t..."

Here I completely agree with you. I think he's also criticizing the way some people behave towards the poors as if poor people don't really know what is good for them and they need a guide like the "thoughtful" Mrs. Pardiggle who can show them how to live their lives.
It sounds like Dickens is mocking them, showing that, despite all their efforts, no good comes from their actions: poors don't benefit from their help and also their family feel unhappy and neglected.

I also like Mr. Boythorn much better than Skimpole, whom I find quite annoying maybe because it sounds a bit insincere to me: he's not so naive as Mr. Jarndyce says.

Regarding Mr. Guppy,yes, his proposal comes totally out of the blue, couldn't be some hidden motive in it?


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Sherin wrote: "For a moment, I thought wiglomeration was a real word!"

So did I until I tried to look it up! Haha!


message 14: by Sherin (new)

Sherin Punnilath (shery_7) | 10 comments :)


message 15: by Kyle (new)

Kyle (kansaskyle) I agree with Jackie about Mrs Pardiggle's and Mrs. Jellby's motiviation, and I highlighted this passage.
...there were two classes of charitable people; one, the people who did a little and made a great deal of noise; the other, the people who did a great deal and made no noise at all.

Why do you think Esther was so turned off by Mr. Guppy's proposal? She seems to like the idea of love between Ada and Richard, but pushes aside her own prospects. Is she doomed to be the "little old woman" that became one of her many nicknames?


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I don't think that Esther was "ready" for such an outpouring of love, Kyle. It was a little bit overblown and probably scared her. She was pretty naive to the ways of the world and his proposal coming out of nowhere, probably unnerved her. Maybe too, she was thinking of better prospects becoming available. All in all, I believe it was the rashness which turned her off to Mr Guppy. I know it turned me off!


message 17: by Bea (last edited Nov 30, 2011 08:40AM) (new)

Bea | 233 comments I thought Mr. Guppy's proposal was one of the least romantic on record, aside from coming out of nowhere. He seemed to think her number one priority would be his financial prospects and her prospective mother-in-law. Added to this, all the "without prejudices" would have turned me right off.


message 18: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) I agree about Mrs. Jellyby & Mrs. Pardiggle's motives regarding charity. They ignore their loved ones (not really sure they love their spouses and children) in order to do 'good works'. It seems to be for show. I think Mrs. Pardiggle knows the objects of her charity hate her, but she just doesn't care because she believes she's right in what she's doing and thinks they will come to realize it in time. Pretty mean-spirited in how she relates to them.

Mr. Guppy's proposal! I think we'll find out that there is more to it than love. He was only in her company for a short, short time and either it was love at first sight or there is another motive behind it. I have my suspicions. Esther was right in rejecting him. How could any love he claims to feel be based on feelings for who she is? He doesn't even know her! She could have handled it a little more tactfully maybe, but he wasn't very tactful, was he?

I had a bit of trouble with Chapter 10 ... maybe other things were distracting me, but I had to read it more than once. A bit like reading the King James version of the Bible where you read a passage and think, "What?" and read it again to figure out what is being said. LOL Who is Nemo and what does he have to do with Jarndyce and Jarndyce? Interesting chapter and great cliffhanger! I can just picture Dickens' first readers discussing this endlessly for the month they had to wait.


message 19: by Greg (new)

Greg | 16 comments Jackie Renee wrote: "I don't really see them as wanting to do good as much as wanting to be seen doing good. Their parenting skills are deplorable, but so is their charity work. I am seeing them mainly as a contrast t..."

Well put!


message 20: by Greg (new)

Greg | 16 comments Bea wrote: "I thought Mr. Guppy's proposal was one of the least romantic on record, aside from coming out of nowhere. He seemed to think her number one priority would be his financial prospects and her prospe..."

This had to be what provoked the uncharacteristic reaction. The proposal was brought with the attitude that she should feel lucky that he doesn't care about more unsavory elements of her past. Definitely not a suave move.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) He is not a suave type guy at all....kind of one of those greasy types who seems to snivel. Keep your eyes on Mr Guppy!


message 22: by Susan Margaret (new)

Susan Margaret (susanmargaretg) Greg wrote: "Bea wrote: "I thought Mr. Guppy's proposal was one of the least romantic on record, aside from coming out of nowhere. He seemed to think her number one priority would be his financial prospects an..."

Not only was Mr. Guppy not suave but he drank like a fish! He needed several glasses of wine before he could make his proposal to Esther.


message 23: by Bea (new)

Bea | 233 comments Did you catch the fact that Guppy made his proposal fairly shortly after his sightseeing trip to Chesney Wold?


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I believe the word to use for him is an opportunist.


message 25: by Susan Margaret (new)

Susan Margaret (susanmargaretg) Bea wrote: "Did you catch the fact that Guppy made his proposal fairly shortly after his sightseeing trip to Chesney Wold?"

I totally missed that!


message 26: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) I caught it ... that's why I think he has an ulterior motive. I need to get back to reading this one ... been so busy this week.


message 27: by Deedee (new)

Deedee | 34 comments Agree with Katie -- The Growlery was awesome. :)

Mr. Guppy's description -- "lilac-kid gloves, a neckerchief of various colours" -- I couldn't help but imagine him as dressed garishly in that neon colored style of the late 1960s, even though his clothing couldn't have been quite THAT bright.

Agree with Martha about the cliffhanger aspect of Chapter 10 -- Nemo with opium by the bed.

Question: what is a rag and bottle shop?


message 28: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Johnson (jrjohnson1408) Deedee wrote: "Question: what is a rag and bottle shop? ..."

They basically bought and sold reusable items that we would consider trash today.

This comes from the footnotes in The Annotated Christmas Carol: A Christmas Carol in Prose describing Marine Store Shops and Rag and Bottle Shops. "They were pawnshops that dealt in all sorts of items, stolen or otherwise; they originally sold goods needed on shipboard... Technically what Dickens describes is a rag and bottle shop, because marine store shops did not trade in grease and other "Kitchen Stuff". Proprietors of the shops bought grease, drippings, etc for resale: the grease went to candle makers and soap boilers, the drippings to the poor as a substitute for butter."

They also bought and resold empty bottles, paper and old cloth to be used for various things.

The poor people of the Victorian era must not have ever wasted anything, which is a lesson people of our era could profit by.


message 29: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) When we first moved to Germany in 1974, I was stunned to see what small packages the Germans set out on garbage day. Many would come to our dumpsters every day to sort through what we were throwing away. Yes we could certainly learn from others about helping to keep our planet green AND to save money. My mother, who lived through the depression, never drank her iced tea out of a glass in her later years. She used old plastic jars with lids. She made the tea and put sweetener in it as she was diabetic. She could then shake it really well to mix and store in the fridge. She would have 2 or 3 jars made up at any time. She would take the lid off and just "take a little swig" of tea. :-)


message 30: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Johnson (jrjohnson1408) My Great-Grandmother was like that, too. She never used anything once: she always found a way to reuse it. We have a tablecloth that she crocheted using yarn unwound from defective socks (unworn, of course). I wish I could be that thrifty.


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