Posted by: sabinabw | September 13, 2010

Bleak House-Charles Dickens

Early on in the novel, Ada and Ester meet a woman whose child has passed away and continues to hold the child in her arms.  As I read the description of the two women, one comforting the other, the image below popped into my mind.  Earlier this year I visited some museums in NYC, and this painting captured my attention and I had to snap a photo of it. The way Dickens writes about the pain felt by the women in the novel, is clearly expressed in this painting; particularly by the woman holding the deceased child.

Esther says, “I thought it very touching to see these two women, coarse and shabby and beaten, so united; to see what they could be to one another; to see how they felt for one another, how the heart of each to each was softened by the hard trials of their lives.  I think the best side of such people is almost hidden from us. What the poor are to the poor is little known, excepting to themselves and God” (p 124). Even though the women in this painting are not of the lower class as in Bleak House, death affects all the classes just the same, as seen in the faces of the women, and the written words of Dickens.


  1. I always thought that scene in Bleak House was extremely tragic and contrasts to Esther’s earlier childhood where she never felt loved or wanted. It’s almost as though she’s witnessing the strength of maternal love for the first time and I’ve always wondered what else she was thinking as this moment. Could she be comparing the absence of her mother to this devoted mother who loves onto. Moreover, the fact that these women are worker class emphasises that they too can feel deep emotions and contrast strikingly to Esher’s auntie who are a gentlewoman would have been expected to be a loving influence in her niece’s life.

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