Bleak House is the ninth novel by Charles Dickens. It is held to be one of Dickens's finest novels, containing one of the most vast, complex and engaging arrays of minor characters and sub-plots in his entire canon. The story is told partly by the novel's heroine, Esther Summerson, and partly by an omniscient narrator. Memorable characters include the menacing lawyer Tulkinghorn, the friendly but depressive John Jarndyce and the childish Harold Skimpole, as well as the likeable but imprudent Richard Carstone.
At the novel's core is long-running litigation in England's Court of Chancery, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which has far-reaching consequences for all involved. This case revolves around a testator who apparently made several wills, all of them seeking to bequeath money and land surrounding the Manor of Marr in South Yorkshire. The litigation, which already has consumed years and sixty to seventy thousand pounds sterling in court costs, is emblematic of the failure of Chancery.
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