Differing Opinions of Bleak House When Bleak House, by Charles Dickens, was published in 1853, it did not go unnoticed by critics. The reviews of the period where anything but tepid in tone or opinion in regard to Dickensâ€™ newest novel. Most notably, the critics were concerned with the structure of the novel, characterization, and, in particular, Esther as a plausible character. By singling out reviewers from different publications of the time, it is possible to see what the public in 1853 was reading about Bleak House in regard to these issues. Structure The contemporary reviewers of Bleak House fall into two categories when discussing its structure. There are those who like it and there are those who do not. More specifically, those who dislike the novelâ€™s construction complain of the absence of plot and lack of connection between characters and their actions. Opposing this view are the reviewers who find the characters in Bleak House remarkably intertwined in the story, especially since it was written as a series for a literary magazine. One of the strongest of these critics is George Brimley, who, in his article entitled â€œDickensâ€™s Bleak Houseâ€ published in The Spectator in 1853, writes that â€œBleak House is, even more than its predecessors, chargeable with not simple faults, but absolute want of constructionâ€(161). He finds that the structure of Bleak House fails because there is no connection between actors and incidents. Brimley points to the interest of Richard Carstone in the Chancery case. The case only serves to draw out Carstoneâ€™s personality faults that would have been drawn out in any other interest he may have had. The Chancery case, then, is trivial for it fails to exert any real impact on the characters... ...made more probably by the fact that she is the chronicler of her own perfectionâ€(161). Chesterton concludes, â€œMiss Summerson in some ways is a failureâ€ (166). Individuals encountering life-changing moments would be swayed and impacted greatly, unlike Esther, whose enduring calmness and optimism restrains her to the fictional role. The character of Esther is widely criticized for her perfection as a character, both receiving positive acclaims and negative feedback. Estherâ€™s reserved, quiet character illustrates the role of women during the Victorian period and what little impact on society women played. Critics of Bleak House generally praise the narration and Dickensâ€™s use of Estherâ€™s character, which gives direction to the novel. Â Works Cited Harris, Laurie Lanzen, ed. Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism. Vol. 8. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1981.
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