Tuesday, 1 November 2016

''Bleak House'': Novel and 2005 TV adaptation

It took me several weeks to finish reading ''Bleak House'', a novel by Charles Dickens published (in serials) from 1852 to 1853. To put it simply, I loved it. I really enjoyed reading it, and for a few weeks I was absorbed in the plot and numerous subplots of the novel. I became attached to several of the many, many characters. This was my second full-length Dickens novel- the first being A Tale of Two Cities- and needless to say I have fallen in love with Dickens's style of writing.

''Bleak House'' mainly tells the story of two people: the haughty, charming Lady Dedlock, the beautiful wife of Sir Leicester Dedlock. The Dedlocks reside in a magnificent house called Chesney Wold. Lady Dedlock, however, has a secret: a secret, if revealed, will bring drastic consequences to the lives of many people. The family lawyer, Mr Tulkinghorn, accidentally gets a hint about the secret, and delves into Lady Dedlock's past and acquaintances to learn what the secret actually is.

The other central character in the novel is Esther Summerson, a young woman who has never known her parents. She is supported by the wealthy and generous Mr Jarndyce, who appoints her as a companion to his ward and distant cousin, Ada Clare. Mr Jarndyce, Esther, Ada, and another of Mr Jarndyce's wards, Richard Carstone, are initially seen living happily in Mr Jarndyce's house- known as Bleak House- however, different events soon tear them apart.

The thing that casts a shadow throughout the novel is the case of Jarndyce & Jarndyce, a legal case that has been running for decades, a case that originated because of multiple wills made by an ancestor of the Jarndyces. If the case finally gets a verdict, the fortune of several people would depend on it. Several characters of the novel are involved somehow with the case: including Mr Jarndyce, Richard, Ada and even Lady Dedlock.

These three major plots, along with the numerous subplots, weave Bleak House, and though it might initially seem hard- and at times a bit annoying- to keep track of the numerous storyline and characters, it eventually culminates wonderfully: with various consequences coming to different characters. This is a tale of discovery, reunion, devastation, separation, happiness, and pain.

I loved the way Dickens was able to interlink so many characters. I loved how every single subplot somehow were linked with the major characters. Each character was extremely well developed.

I loved some of the characters: Esther, Mr Jarndyce, Ada, Mr George. These were definitely my favorite characters. Over the course of the novel several characters go through dynamic- yet realistic- changes, including Sir Leicester Dedlock, whom I initially thought to be haughty and stupid but circumstances over the course of the novel made me change my opinion. I definitely cared for Lady Dedlock, though I must say I did not love her the way I loved Esther Summerson. There are so many other characters worth being mentioned: Richard, Mrs Bagnet, Mrs Snagsby, Mr Smallweed, Mr Skimpole, Mr Guppy, Inspector Bucket, Mrs Rouncewell, Miss Flite, Caddy Jellyby, Prince Turveydrop, Charley and so many other characters. Mr Tulkinghorn makes a cold, well developed villain. 

The novel has two narrators: Esther and a third person narrator. I personally loved Esther's narrative more: it sounded to me much more personal, much more melodious. 

If I need to choose a favorite subplot, well, that would be difficult. But perhaps I would choose the subplot concerning Mr George, mainly because I really started loving the character and I liked the revelations and the unexpected twist in this particular subplot.

Overall, I really, really, really loved the novel. (Right now, I'm reading another of Dickens's novels, David Copperfield. I'm enjoying it so far!)

The 2005 BBC serial consisted of fifteen episodes, and was directed by Justin Chadwick and Susanna White. Though it is true that not every character, not every bit of this huge novel could be included in this adaptations, I must say that I loved it! This series definitely did justice to Dickens's novel. It is indeed a very good adaptation. It is extremely well written and the subject matter is wonderfully dealt with. I loved some of the additions: for example, Mr Skimpole is antagonized more in this adaptation and is far less comical than he was in the novel. I really admired this alteration. Mr Snagsby, for example, is more warm and amiable than comical, and I really appreciated it. Mr Guppy is more creepy and it was definitely funny (and creepy) to watch him. The performances were so very good! Though it could not include everything, I must say its a very good adaptation! 

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