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By Jeremy Hawthorn (auth.)

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Like a well bucket the Inspector also 'descends' into dark and damp places, and Dickens's fascination with him may be the fascination of the unraveller of secrets, the establisher of connections (the latter an important, and consciously emphasised element in Bleak House). Janet L. l58). In view of the 'freezing' and 'melting' imagery with which Bleak House is packed, we may feel it appropriate, when the thaw comes, that Esther is well provided with a Bucket. We have come some way from the debate about whether or not Dickens's characters are possessed with an inner life; modern criticism has certainly disagreed about the wider significance that Dickens's characterisation has in Bleak House, but that it has that wider significance is no longer in question.

The end of an instalment will have been significant for an early reader of the novel: if there is no more to read then you inevitably think more about what you have just read, and speculate about what will happen (rather than just reading on, as the reader of Bleak House in book form can do). It is certainly worth paying particular attention to the instalment divisions of the work in any reading of the novel. I want now, however, to spend a few pages making particular reference to the differences between first and subsequent readings of Bleak House.

58). And some critics of Bleak House have seen the depiction of seemingly 'flat' or 'empty' characters such as Lady Dedlock and Tulkinghorn as something radically different from a mere failure to portray inner lives. M. 63). 34). A. 253}. And Susan Horton suggests very interestingly that the 'gaps' in the narrator's knowledge of certain characters in Bleak House put a particularly fruitful pressure on the reader of Bleak House. To this suggestion I shall return in Part Two. Two critics have argued very strongly that Dickens was antagonistic to his characters: jealous of them or unsympathetic to their need for independence.

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