79 pages 2 hours read

Charles Dickens

Bleak House

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1853

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Chapters 31-40

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 31 Summary: “Nurse and Patient”

Charley struggles with her writing lessons. During one lesson, she asks Esther whether Esther knows “a poor person of the name of Jenny” (444), who has visited Bleak House on several occasions and requested an audience. Charley recalls meeting Jenny in a doctor’s office, where Jenny was collecting medicine for a boy. Charley takes Esther to visit Jenny. At Jenny’s cottage, Esther enters with her veil over her face. She greets Jenny and the orphan boy, who immediately sees a woman in a veil and announces that he will not return to the graveyard. Jenny tries to comfort Jo. When Esther lifts her veil, Jo asserts that she looks very similar to the woman who asked to be taken to Captain Hawdon‘s grave. Jo also explains that he is sick; Jenny is caring for Jo as well as Liz’s baby, whom she cares for like her own child. Jenny is worried, explaining that Jo cannot be in the house when her husband returns. Liz arrives with the news that her and Jenny’s husbands are returning to the house. Esther agrees to take Jo to Bleak House.

At Bleak House, Esther talks to a visiting Skimpole. He believes that Jo should not be allowed to stay because his illness makes him infectious.