Trivia Quiz for Bleak House (part two)by Charles Dickens (1853)
For West Seattle “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 2/20/22
A. The Complicated Unfolding: Characters and Relationships.
1. Secrets revealed. People’s secrets come to light in many ways—gradual and abrupt—in the second half of Bleak House. Which of the following is not a secret revealed?
a. Mrs. Rouncewell is actually George’s mother.
b. Lady Dedlock is actually Esther’s mother.
c. The will found by Mr. Smallweed in Krook’s shop actually does provide a fortune for the Jarndyce wards.
d. Mrs. Jellyby’s efforts actually do help the people of Borrioboola-Gha.
2. Mysteries remain. Despite the many dénouements in the second half, significant doubts nag at the reader. Which of the following enigmas is unresolved?
a. Why did Hortense kill the lawyer, Mr. Tulkinghorn?
b. How does Skimpole get away with sponging off of other people?
c. How did Jo get the dread virus and transmit it to Esther?
d. Whose footsteps are heard on the Ghost’s Walk at Chesney Wold?
e. All of the above remain tinged by mystery, in one way or another
Insider references: a clue to emotion. Several characters revert to stock phrases to express their feelings. Match the character to the phrase. The characters include: a. Mr. Bagnet; b. Mr. Jarndyce; c. Richard in the middle of the novel; d. Mr. Jellyby
3. “Never have a Mission, my dear child.”
4. “It’s rather jog-trotty and humdrum. But it’ll do as well as any thing else!”
5. “Discipline must be maintained.”
6. “An East wind is blowing.”
B. Social critique? Institutions and professions are skewered but reform is ridiculed too, and family is not necessarily a haven.
7. Which of the following social institutions is not condemned in Bleak House?
b. the law
c. charitable organizations (church, philanthropy)
d. Parliament and local governments
8. Family and broken homes. Who among the following is not an orphan, or missing one parent?
b. Allan Woodcourt
f. Caddy Jellyby
9. At the end, Mrs. Jellyby gives up her efforts in Africa to focus on an English concern that is portrayed as equally ludicrous. What is it?
a. women’s rights
b. the abolition of slavery
C. Oddities and Loose Ends
10. True or False? The heroine’s real name is not Esther Summerson, but Esther Hawdon. T / F
11. In a novel where much of the action takes place in the fog, the weirdest meteorological phenomenon actually comes from human sources. Which one of the following passages does not describe the death of Mr. Krook by spontaneous combustion?
a. “See how the soot’s falling. Confound the stuff, it won’t blow off—smears, like black fat!”
b. “Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes—gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun.”
c. “’Don’t you observe,’ says Mr. Snagsby, pausing to sniff and taste the air a little, ‘don’t you observe, Mr. Weevle, that you’re—not to put too fine a point upon it—that you’re rather greasy here, sir?’”
d. “’What, in the Devil’s name is this?’ … A thick, yellow liquor defiles them, which is offensive to the touch and sight, and more offensive to the smell. A stagnant, sickening oil, with some natural repulsion in it that makes them both shudder.”
12. Why is Lady Dedlock startled to see Esther in church one day? Choose the correct reply.
a. Esther bears a striking resemblance to her, as much as a daughter might (but Lady D. thinks her own secret child died in infancy).
b. Lady D. mistakes Esther for Hortense, the French maid she has fired, and who has vowed to bring her down in revenge.
c. Lady D. is surprised because Esther, a prominent atheist, is not known to frequent places of worship.
13. True or False? At one point, Lord Leicester is described as “a magnificent freezer.” T/F
14. True or False? The last scene portrays the adult Esther on a moonlit porch with a loving husband who asks her, “Don’t you know that you are prettier than you ever were?” T/F
13. False. He is described as “a magnificent refrigerator”!