Detective Elements in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House
Under the Supervision of
Professor Yang Jincai
Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts
School of Foreign Studies
I would like to express my deepest appreciation to all those who provided me the possibility to complete this thesis. Above all, I would like to thank Professor Yang Jincai, whose enthusi and influenced me to be a better
I would like to thank my parents who offer me great love and support.
I would like to thank my three roommates who encourage me to complete thesis writing at midnights.
Bleak House is considered by many scholars to be among Dickens’ most ambitious work and finest achievements. This paper examines the detective elements in Bleak House. It begins with a discussion on the classic narrative patterns of detective fiction and how they are demonstrated in the novel as detective elements. Further, based on the novel, the paper explores the functions of these detective features, judges their impacts, and eventually comes to the conclusion that they are worthy of significant literary and social values.
Keywords: Detective Elements; Literary Function; Social Function
Abstract in English
Abstract in Chinese
“I believe I have never had so many readers,” says Charles Dickens in the preface to Bleak House, “as in this book.” He had great satisfaction witnessing the striking popular success of the book from the moment its first monthly installment published in March, 1852. Since its publication, critical assessments of Bleak House have been remarkable in their variety. Spectator commented in 1853 as if it were a clumsy bungle absent of a coherent story (Brimley 923-25). More than a hundred years later, Geoffrey Tillotson described it as “the finest literary work the nineteenth century produced in England.” In 1970, Mrs. Q.D. Leavis wrote in Dickens the Novelist that Bleak House is “the most impressive and rewarding of all Dickens’ novels”. Dickens himself ranked the book his second favorite a little below David Copperfield.
Much criticism of the book focuses on its indictment of the English Chancery court system. In the mid-nineteenth century Britain, Chancery courts were one half of the country’s civil justice system and heard actions related to wills and estates, or the uses of private property. Back at that time, law reformers had long criticized the high costs and delays of Chancery litigation. Dickens exhibits them in a stronger and more romantic light in his novel, using a long-running legal case Jarndyce and Jarndyce to satirize the system of that day. English legal historian Sir William Searle Holdsworth treated Bleak House as primary sources revealing the history of English law. Besides a savage attack on the Victorian legal system, Dickens also offers a wide-ranging critique of a society dominated by class privilege and greed through a secret investigation of Lady Dedlock’s past. Among all the dark sides of the world, however, a character is depicted in a significant image – Police Detective Bucket. For him, the confused and variegated spectacle of the society holds no terror. This godlike character with an unprecedented identity interests the writer of this thesis to analyze his role and search for other detective elements.
A close look at the work reveals detective elements as the major ingredients of Bleak House. Murders and mysteries take turns to enter the stage, with a complex group of clues and suspects that readers need to sort through and figure out. A suspicious death, a murder, an amateur sleuth, a police inspector, clues, the solution to the case. These are many of the ingredients that have since become integral to the detective genre. Moreover, Dickens’s extensive use of the motif of crime and investigation, together with a suspenseful plot, has come to be recognized as the classic features of detective novels. So far, there are plenty of researches on Bleak House’s detective elements. Peter Thoms links the characters’ behavior of detection to their fear of self-exposure. (Thoms 1) D.A. Miller narrows the detective elements down to detective police and analyzes their connection with bureaucracy and social discipline. (Miller 2) David Ben-Merre, on the other hand, discusses the relationship among seeing, interpretation, and knowledge that takes place in the process of detection. (Ben-Merre 2) Among all these in-depth analyses, little attention is paid to the topic of detective elements alone. Thus, this thesis focuses mainly on the novel’s detective elements and studies their significant functions both in and outside the novel.
Detective story as a distinct genre is a product of the Nineteenth Century Britain. Bleak House, though cannot be termed a genuine detective story for it is not centrally constructed around a detective’s work, does have much in common with the genre. Together with Poe’s Dupin, Collins’s Sergeant Cuff, and mainly, Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Dickens’s Bleak House serve as the forerunners and founders of detective fiction. The thesis will approach the novel from an overall discussion of Victorian detective fiction when analyzing the social functions of the novel’s detective elements. According to Patrick Chappell’s “Character Economy of Realism”, the dynamic shifts in characters’ visibility can sustain readers’ experience of surprise and suspense. Based on this theory, the thesis will also discuss how Dickens creates suspense in Bleak House and provides the audience with a suspenseful fascination.
The thesis emphasizes on the literary and social values of detective elements in Bleak House. The first chapter serves as an introduction to the detective elements of the novel. It will include a close look at the narrative pattern of detective fiction, and how it fits in the novel. The second chapter looks into the literary function of these elements. Various forms of delay and suspense will be explained, especially the partial existence of characters and the serialized publishing method of the novel. The third chapter will focus on their social functions: detective elements lend readers and characters a private eye to probe into the inner worlds of others. Meanwhile, they play the role of comforting readers’ anxiety and preventing the society from entering into a chaos.
Edger Allan Poe, whose fiction tales featuring C. Auguste Dupin laid the groundwork for modern detective stories, creates a prototype of the narrative pattern that can be found in the majority of detective novels. It includes four phases — introduction of the detective, the presentation of the mystery, the investigation, and the solution to the mystery. Dickens’ novel Bleak House, though not strictly belonging to detective fiction genre, follows this action pattern.
To start with, the novel has a substantial portrayal of private and police detectives. Many characters, despite their real social positions, are taking the role of a private detective. For example, Mr. Tulkinghorn, an eminent solicitor of the High Court of Chancery, starts an investigation on Lady Dedlock and her past life after he notices her unusual reaction towards some affidavits. Mr. Guppy, a law clerk, collects almost every clue to prove Esther as a member of Lady Dedlock’s family. Even Mrs. Snagby, a housewife, immediately senses her husband’s abnormality after his return from one night’s missing. However, none of these characters carry the stereotypical traits of detectives in nineteenth-century novels, which are astonishing observational skills, the ability to collect material information other overlooks, and to piece together an unchallengeable sequence of events that points to the criminal. Instead, these traits are vigorously depicted on a detective police — Inspector Bucket. As suggested by his name, he is the one who dredges up all the secrets. He tells Sir Leicester the secret of Lady Dedlock. He reveals that Hortense is the real culprit of Mr. Tulkinghorn’s murder. When Lady Dedlock is missing, readers are following Bucket’s pursuit of finding Lady Dedlock. He has an ultimate source of power and intelligence over other characters. A theme that best demonstrates that is Mr. Smallweed requesting Sir Leicester 500 pounds for keeping the secret of Lady Dedlock. To solve this conflict, Bucket confidently and calmly bargains with Mr. Smallweed and Mr. Chadband on how much money they can get. He explains precisely to Mrs. Snagby the real situation of her husband, and when he wishes these people to leave, “nobody has the hardihood to object to his doing so.” (Dickens 829) As for Sir Leicester, “of all men upon earth, Sir Leicester seems fallen from his high estate to place his sole trust and reliance upon this man.” (Dickens 830) Bucket no doubt has the dominating power that all the other characters are bound to agree with him. The superior mind of him as a police detective contradicts the traditional formula of 19th century detective fiction where there is usually a brilliant and eccentric private detective who consistently shows up the incompetence of the official police force through his outstanding brilliance.
Secondly, Bleak House contains a superabundance of narrative threads. They lead to plentiful hidden secrets and mysteries. Central characters such as Esther, Richard, Tulkinghorn, and bucket are all occupied by the mysteries of the past. They are either tracking down the mysterious circumstances around Esther’s birth and her parents’ true identities, or they are probing into the history of disputed family legacies. These mysteries are kept secret until the end of the novel. There are also some seemingly insignificant events such as Lady Dedlock’s unusual response upon seeing the handwriting of a legal document. Readers will understand that her shocked reaction is due to her recognition of the handwriting to be her past lover’s when the whole chains of puzzling actions are completed. As a result, readers’ initial response of reading is full of confusion and bewilderment. In the middle of the novel, a murder takes place, further creating a sense of uncertainty to the novel. The murder is introduced with the third-person narrative asking: “What’s that? Who fired a gun or pistol? Where was it?” (Dickens 187) These three questions provide no useful information, leaving readers clueless about victim and the murderer. In the later paragraphs, the narrative further asks, “Has Mr. Tulkinghorn been disturbed?” (Dickens 188) To this point, readers learn the victim to be Tulkinghorn. This is an example showing that the usual condition of a detective fiction reader that he knows something important is happening, though he doesn’t know exactly what it is.
Thirdly, the novel involves a substantial description of investigation. In the novel, investigation is mainly divided into two phases. The first one relies on detectives’ keen insight and a particular intuition. When Lady Dedlock is stirred at the sight of the handwriting on a legal document, Mr. Tulkinghorn keenly senses something special of the handwriting and starts investigation on its owner. The second one is the collection of evidence. Mr. Guppy, when noticing the similar appearances of Lady Dedlock and Esther, he makes a wild guess that they have genetic connection. To testify the existence of the relationship, he went on searching for material evidence. He cooperated with his friend Jobling, who in a lodger in Krook’s shop, trying to get Captain Hawdon’s letters from Krook. But Krook’s sudden death makes his attempt fall short. Similarly, knowing that Jo is paid by a veiled woman to walk her around the places associated with Captain Hawdon and that woman is very likely to be Lady Dedlock, Mr. Tullkinghorn asks a maid to dress up in Lady Dedlock’s clothes and asks Jo if he recognizes her. Here Mr. Tulkinghorn is approaching the truth from witnesses.
Last is the unraveling of the mysteries. Dickens reveal all of them to the audience through voices of characters. For instance, with Tulkinghorn’s dialogue with Lady Dedlock, readers get to know Lady Dedlock’s former lover Captain Hawdon makes a living by coping legal document and later dies of opium overdose. Similarly, the murderer of Mr. Tulkinghorn and the reasons for her conducting the crime are explained to readers through Mr. Bucket’s interrogation of Hortense, as he convicts her and carries her off to jail.
At the same time that readers remain aware of fictiveness of novels, they tend to judge a book as if they could get “lost” in it. J. Hillis Miller had a famous quote saying that the opening words of a novel should “instantly transport” him “into a new world”. And pages of the novel are “windows” to the world. However, windows in novels such as Bleak House are rather opaque. Chappell in his paper “Bleak House, Rubbish Theory, and the Character Economy of Realism” comments on Dickens’s narrative that it “resists the representational practice that Roland Barthes termed ‘the reality effect.'” According to Barthes, Dickens does not use fiction’s numerous details for mimicking the real life’s material profusion. Instead, in Bleak House, most details have symbolic or functional utility. Thus, readers not only need to confront a great number of characters and details across broad expanses of the plot, but also need to look for hidden connections and meanings. Speaking of the ability that readers need to read such novels, Leah Price writes that “the sheer bulk of many Victorian genres (both fictional and non) requires their consumers to skip and to skim, to tune in and zone out.” (Price 10) The reading practices Bleak House ask of its readers amplify the difficulty of overcoming barriers to knowledge and perception. Fortunately, detective themes emerge just at the right time. The novel’s suspense designing earns it a massive amount of reading audience since its publication.
Dickens seems to be fully aware that suspense is the best ingredients for attracting audience. With the first few hundred pages, he baffles the readers by featuring a profusion of characters who seem to have nothing to do with one other and a mix of events whose bearing on a possible plot is undecidable. Thus when reading the novel, readers are bound to wonder a lot of questions: who are Esther’s parents? Who is Nemo? Who murdered Mr.Tulkinghorn? And etc. Dickens is fond of setting up secrets and leaving hints for readers to guess as he writes along. For example, a minor Character Guppy who is a law clerk at Kenge and Carboy’s sees a painting of Lady Dedlock. He said: “How well I know that picture…I will be shot if it ain’t very curious how well I know that picture” (Dickens 74) Readers who reach this point would find Guppy’s reaction strange and mysterious. Unfortunately, no explanation is provided by the third-person narrator or Guppy himself. Why does Guppy find himself intrigued by a portrait hanging in the Dedlock mansion? Readers could do nothing but hold their confusion and suspicions in mind as they continue reading. Seventeen chapters later, Guppy meets Esther and says, “I thought I had seen you somewhere.” Readers who are careful with details may sense a clue here linking Esther and Lady Dedlock’s appearance. In fact, the secret is not revealed straightforward until the very exposure of Lady Dedlock and Esther’s mother-daughter relation. In this case, a trivial remark by a minor character serves as a pointer to the ultimate mystery of Esther’s parentage.
In the novel, the use of delay and suspense is repeated in various forms, most significantly in its representation of characters. It can be best explained by Michael Thompson’s theory explained in The Creation and Destruction of Value. He wrote that “What I believe happens is that a transient object gradually declining in value and in expected life-span may slide across into rubbish.” It then “just continues to exist in a timeless and valueless limbo where at some later date (if it has not by that time turned, or been made, into dust) it has the chance of being discovered,” and thus revalued. Dickens put many of the characters in Bleak House in the “limbo” state. They often disappear from the plot, but as the narrative proceeds they reappear and take on a new functional position in the narrative. For examples, the minor character Nemo only lives for one chapter, but his existence is recognized several times after his death. When he first appears in the novel, he is a law-writer who makes copies of legal documents. Nemo’s identity (Nemo means “nobody” in Latin) seemingly has nothing to do with any other characters in the novel. Nemo’s abnormal independence would quickly draw attentive readers’ attention. They will bear a question in mind as they continue reading: Who is Nemo? Several chapters later, Nemo is found dead, but the function of this character is still unclear. Readers, in order to know the answer, have to keep reading. Not until they reach the second half of the novel, which is hundreds of pages away, Mr. Tulkinghorn starts to investigate him and reveals that Nemo is Caption James Hawdon, a former officer in the British Army. Nemo’s partial existence serves as a great tool for creating suspense, which produces reading pleasure. Readers can have fun in making wild guesses before the final revelation and achieve satisfaction when they see the truth. Therefore, the shifting character fates sustain the reader’s experience of suspense. The suspenseful withholding further functions as a tantalizer in keeping the audience interested.
Suspense can be created by items in Bleak House’s fictional world as well. The novel calls attention to a number of items as “Signs and Tokens” (Dickens 137). Lady Dedlock’s portrait, as discussed earlier, is not only a painting hanging somewhere. It has the function of being a sign that guides Guppy to recognize vaguely Esther’s parentage. Similarly, Esther’s handkerchief functions as a clue that later connects her to her mother and to Bucket. Knowing Dickens’s relational networks of things, readers would pay extra attention to the details. Moreover, Dickens deliberately leaves certain items underdetermined. For example, Esther describes caged birds kept by Miss Flite: ”partly drew aside the curtain of the long low garret-window, and called our attention to a number of bird-cages hanging there: some containing several birds. There were larks, linnets, and goldfinches—I should think at least twenty”. (Dickens 53) The existence of birds and birdcages are described by indefinite quantifiers. Thus readers are caught between knowing that there exists a precise scene and being unable to determine what that scene really looks like. They may enjoy the novel much more as they act like a searcher or even a detective, trying to figure out the significance of a carefully depicted object.
Dickens’s usage of suspenseful dynamism also lies in the novel’s two separate systems of narration that are unequal and unrelated. It has two irregularly distinct narrators: one cynical, objective and omniscient narrator who stands outside the action, and one subjective, first-person narrator. The two alternative narrators take turns: the omniscient narrator begins the first two chapters, and Esther takes it up in the third chapter and then the omniscient narrator starts again. This technique causes the reader to continuously reset his or her attitude to what is depicted. One benefit would be conveying the complexity of the literary world as one cannot grasp a complete picture of it from one fixed perspective. More importantly, it contributes to the detective fiction’s emphasis on suspense. For example, the omniscient narrator introduces readers to Chesney Wold where Lady Dedlock behaves strange about the handwriting of a document. Readers’ interest is aroused, wanting to know the reason. Yet the third-person narration suddenly stops and Esther takes up the narration casting of the following chapter. Thus, as D.A. Miller wrote in “Discipline in Different Voices”, “the novel dramatizes the liabilities of fragmentation and postponement within the hopeful prospect that they will be eventually overcome.” (Miller 76)
A bulky novel like Bleak House provided its original serial readers with a year and a half of suspenseful fascination. Instead of inserting everything into massive book editions, Dickens published Bleak House in installments that spaced out over many months. Each installment, printed in a pamphlet, contained three to four chapters. Thus Dickens had the control over the pace at which his serial audience read the novel. Plot material he wished to reveal came out only at the moment that he found appropriate. As the result, the Victorian readers had to experience the painstaking delay every month. Dickens likes to cut the line right after a big event takes place and leaves the following story to next month. For example, the moment Lady Dedlock knows that her past history is exposed, she leaves the Chesney House and disappears. Readers need to wait at least a month to learn where she is and whether she is located by Esther and Mr. Bucket who are chasing after her. Sudden interruption between installments like this encouraged Victorian consumers who were reading the serialized version of Bleak House to generate speculative inquiry about how the story developed. In the temporal delay, readers’ curiosity and eagerness for the next installment would increase until they reach the peak.
Moreover, serialization creates a special connection between Dickens and Victorian audience. Readers waited for new installments. And such act of waiting forced readers to devote a greater amount of time and attention to the novel. Very often, readers would find their action of waiting resemble the waiting conducted by characters in the novel. An example would be Esther waiting for Allan Woodcourt when he is gone to sea. When Allan Woodcourt is back to land and they meet again, months have passed. Readers would have the same taste of the anxiety Esther feels during her waiting since they experience a similar amount of time waiting for the story to come out. Thus the suspense created by serialization heightens readers’ sensitivity to the characters in the novel.
The significance of detective elements in Bleak House lies not only in its literary value but in its social value as well. Beyond the idea that Dickens simply copies down the world as it was, the novel uses its detective elements to call for the necessity of certain social adjustment.
Through investigation, one has access to the reality hidden beneath a seemingly healthy society. Just like a private eye probing into the inner worlds of others, detectives can obtain everyone’s intimate knowledge. Particularly in Bleak House, detectives are given an almost omniscient position. Mr. Tulkinghorn “walks into Chesney World as if it were next door to his chambers, and returns to his chambers as if he had never been out of Lincoln’s Inn Fields” (Dickens 514). As for Mr. Bucket, Dickens wrote “time and place cannot bind Mr. Bucket. Like man in the abstract, he is here to-day and gone to-morrow-but, very unlike man indeed, he is here again the next day” (Dickens 626). These descriptions comment on Tulkinghorn’s and Bucket’s powers as if nothing can escape their eyes. Without these detectives and their investigation, Lady Dedlock is only the haughty mistress of Chesney Wold. She has a beauty figure, a fine face and marries an aristocracy. She lives high up in the upper class, far away from the poor. Having almost no interaction with any other characters, her information is extremely limited. The omniscient third-person narrative would also find it hard to talk about her extensively but still in a natural way. After Mr. Tulkinghorn and Mr. Bucket’s detection goes on, Lady Dedlock’s hidden past can be revealed easily as a result of their detection. She had an affair with another man and bore his child before marriage. The detective narrative not only exposes the moral failings in the upper class, but also finds a way to represent the hard conditions of people living at the bottom of society. Jo is a young boy who lives on the streets and makes a living as a crossing sweeper. Dickens made him the last person who has a connection with Nemo because the identity of Nemo is under Mr. Tulkinghorn’s investigation. Thus, he could be introduced to readers and receive their attention. He once said these striking words: “Look at the water. Smell it! That’s wot we drinks. How do you like it, and what do you think of gin, instead? An’t my place dirty? Yes, it is dirty – it’s nat’rally dirty, and it’s nat’rally onwholesome.”(Dickens 90) From him, readers can see the painful life that some people are living. But if there’s no investigation on Nemo, Jo and the group of people that he belongs to probably won’t be noticed.
While the detective narrative helps to provide a true revelation of the society, it also has the function of resolving people’s anxiety. In nineteenth-century Britain, the society under the leadership of aristocrats has been in a dreadful state. The most obvious sign is the corruption of High Court of Chancery. Dickens uses great length depicting its injustice and evilness:
This is the Court of Chancery; which has its decaying houses and its blighted lands in every shire; which has its worn-out lunatic in every madhouse, and its dead in every churchyard; which has its ruined suitor, with his slipshod heels and threadbare dress, borrowing and begging through the round of every man’s acquaintance; which gives to monied might, the means abundantly of wearying out the right; which so exhausts finances, patience, courage, hope; so overthrows the brain and breaks the heart. (Dickens 7)
By the writing of Bleak House, the practice of law executed by the Chancery has little to do with justice, but only for a money-seeking purpose. The best manifestation is the notorious lawsuit of the Jarndyce, which later becomes a joke in the judicial profession. While some critics argue that Dickens exaggerates the flaws in British Court of Chancery, it is undeniable that during the nineteenth-century, Britain is experiencing a time of rapid social expansion and development. As industrialization increased, the huge wave of people migrating from the rural area to cities brought problems not seen before. As thousands of people were living in close proximity, crime rate rose in urban areas. The stranger’s face, nameless neighbor, and the shifting population created perfect conditions where crime could lurk. According to the guide to London published by Dickens’s son in 1888, even the Victorian household was beset by vicious thieves, hustlers and con artists. Much of the recent criticism of Victorian detective fiction accounts for the appearance of the literary detective during the Victorian Age, relating their success to people’s desire for social and epistemological order. According to Moretti who proposed for the success of Sherlock Holmes an argument that people had “the fear that development might liberate centrifugal energies and thus make effective social control impossible.” (Moretti 32) Fortunately, detective narrative provides the answer to such anxiety: “the guilty party can never hide in the crowd. His tracks betray him as an individual, and therefore a vulnerable, being.” (35) Moretti believes that the detective plot in novels is a response to the social anxiety. Dickens is very likely to think alike because the depiction of a police detective in Bleak House. In 1828, Metropolitan Police was established, later with a detective apartment to answer some of the social anxieties. Dickens included this historical change in the novel. Mr. Bucket and his colleges were operated in the spirit of the law. Outside the novel, Dickens’s Bucket is partially based on a real detective, Inspector Charles Frederick Field, with whom Dickens was friendly.
What’s more, Jonathan Arc’s analysis of the novel offers a view that Dickens is using the novel not only to satisfy readers but to form a new order of society. To him, the new power should come from the detective police. He forms this idea by noticing an unusual representation of policemen in the novel. Policemen, which are long associated with regulation and order, usually play a useless and marginalized role that carries no important meanings in novels. Yet, the construction of the figure Mr. Bucket and other police officers in Bleak House break this stereotype. Mr. Bucket, almost alone among the characters in the book, is clear and confident in his perceptions of the world around him. For example, it only takes him a few days to find out the murderer of Mr. Tulkinghorn. When the murderer admits her guilt, he immediately arrests her for the crime. There are other police officers depicted in the novel: “Two police officers, looking in their perfectly neat uniform, not at all like people who were up all night, were quietly writing at a desk.” (Dickens 867) One can see from here that where the law falls short, the work of chancery is superseded by their operation. Though Arc’s argument may seem a little out of evidence, he is not the only one who upholds this belief. D.A. Miller makes an ambitious attempt to wok out a political reading of the text as well. He expresses that Detective Police emerges as a conflict-ridden attempt to contain the power of Chancery court: “Made so desirable as a sort of institutional ‘alternative’ to Chancery, the police derive their ideological efficacy from providing, within a total system of power, a representation of the containment of power.” (Miller 23) And so, following these two critics’ logic, the existence of police force, not just being a detective element, may carry on a task of containing the perplexities of Chancery and establishing a new set of social order. In reality, the operation of the Court of Chancery during the 19th Century has been generally recognized as inefficient and lack of fairness. Judicial discretion of justice and mercy gave way to the immutable and fixed principles under the chancellorship of Lord Eldon (1802-1806 and 1807-1827). Besides being plagued by the presence of unnecessary officials and fees, judges increasingly abandoned discretion in favor of fixed rules and precedents. (Burns 35) The abolition of the Court of Chancery in 1873 confirmed the decline of Chancery as a source of justice. On the contrary, since the 1829 Metropolitan Police Act, police forces developed rapid throughout the country. In 1877, a Criminal Investigation Department was set up with an increasing number of 200 police detectives. A professionalized police force became a growing institution that dealt with crime and punishment. (35)
In this thesis, I have made a comprehensive analysis on the detective elements in Bleak House. The novel contains all four types of elements that are essential in a detective fiction. Firstly, many of the novel’s characters are depicted as investigators in quest of truth. The paper pays close attention to a character Inspector Bucket and finds him equipped with great powers of observation and superior mind which are the traits belonging to a classic 19th century literary detective. Secondly, the novel’s plot is consisted of a superabundance of secrets and mysteries. Thirdly, the novel contains detailed depictions of investigation process, which lead to the final solution to the mysteries.
Detective elements bring the audience of the novel pleasures of suspense and surprises. The theme of delay and suspense is repeated in various forms. It continually encourages readers to anticipate the truth and the acquisition of various structures of coherence through the development of relationships among characters; through the emergence of a plot whereby the mysteries will be enlightened and its meanings fully explained; and through the tendency of the two narrations to converge, as Esther’s account starts to include characters and information that at first appeared exclusively in the third-person narrative. The serialization of the novel also provide its original serial readers with suspenseful fascination. Such suspense provides readers with an intriguing reading experience. Moreover, it strengthens readers’ feelings to the characters in the novel.
Detective elements offer readers and characters a private eye in order to probe into the inner worlds of others. It guides the audience to a point of view that reveals everyone’s intimate knowledge including his or her past immoral behaviors as well as the dark sides of a society. Meanwhile, detection works on soothing readers’ anxiety and stabilizing the society. Overall, this thesis is trying to present the charms of detective elements in Bleak House through both literary and social perspectives as well as to argue for the necessity of them for the success of the novel.
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