This week, for the Bleak House read-along hosted by Wallace at Unputdownables, I read until Chapter XIV. Can I just say that this week’s reading was pretty slow and dry for me? It wasn’t painful, but it was pretty close to it. This week’s reading clearly demonstrated to me why I have this love-hate relationship with Charles Dickens. Maybe part of it is, I just wish he’d get to the point on several items in the story line. But I completely understand, Dickens wrote during the Victorian era of England, where people enjoyed long-winded reading. Not that I don’t, mind you, but while reading this week, I kept saying, “Say what you’re trying to say and let’s move on!”
Those sentiments aside, I can clearly see why Bleak House is considered one of the first detective novels in literature. There are so many riddles and questions that it could drive a man to drink. On a complete side note and tangent, it may be an added motivation to drink while reading this book, we’ll see! And I don’t necessarily mean a detective novel in the sense of the genre. There are so many questions, as I mentioned above. Why was Lady Deadlock so interested in the death of a rather obscure copyist? Clearly, Dickens keeps on letting his opinion of the legal system be the basis of his disgust of the Victorian method of enforcing the law.
One thing that kind of left me scratching my head was how Richard and Ada are having a blossoming romance. They’re cousins! A part of me is ewww, but a part of me sees this as one of Richard’s failings, and perhaps his confidence in other areas of his life. I didn’t mention this point last week, but Richard strikes me as a character who has some serious issues with his self-confidence. In last week’s reading, he wasn’t sure what it was he wanted to do with his life. He just figures he needs to get a job and earn his keep like everyone else. He really seems to have no drive to improve himself, or even to ask questions. This week’s reading reinforced that belief. A career field was suggested to him, and he said, “Sure, that sounds interesting.” Without even really giving it much thought, he simply wished to please his benefactor. One thing I can’t stand in literature, is characters that are weak in character. Richard strikes me as one of those types of characters, where he’s just going with the flow and doesn’t really seem to care, as long as the Jarndyce and Jarndyce case results in him receiving his share of the inheritance, and then maybe, quite maybe, he won’t have to work at all. He’s naive to the fact that there isn’t anything left to inherit, and, instead of demonstrating some motivation, is hoping for something good to simply land on his lap.
In closing, I want to take a moment to mention something about Esther. Esther, at the end of this week’s reading, seems to be caught in some conflicting feelings. She seems to be attracted to a young surgeon, while, at the same time, she needs to deal with her feelings with Mr. Jarndyce, whom I can see is perhaps starting to have more than simply the feelings of a benefactor. I’ll be interesting to see how that relationship pans out as I continue on with Bleak House.
Mainly, I want to see the story pick up some and for Dickens to maybe get to the point a little quicker, but I think that very well might be an unrealistic expectation. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep my motivation level going so I can continue reading this book.