by Andrea Elizabeth

Going back to Bleak House’s irresponsible characters, there’s also Mr. Skimpole, the perpetual child. Mr. Jarndyce seems to buy into the child schtick and humors and spoils him. Until Richard and Esther are asked for money, then he feels bad for their being begged. But if a person spoils another person, they are setting up everyone else that person comes into contact with to be expected to provide the same thing. People think they are so nice in spoiling people, but really they are being mean to set a precedent for others to be leached from.

Anyway, Mr. Jarndyce’s response to Mr. Skimpole is amusement. Esther’s response feels like anger and resentment over observing Mr. Skimpole breezing through life without lifting a finger for anyone else, including his family. Esther ends up becoming upset. Justifyably so when she sees Richard get sucked dry by him. I haven’t gotten to that part yet in the book. But before that happens, she is only upset on Mr. Skimpole’s family’s behalf whom she hasn’t met yet, so her criticism of him is silent. She does not ever confront him directly, just in her thoughts. This growing bitterness has no where to go. Silently observing perceived crimes can eat away at one. This is letting the person have a certain control over you. She has a good relationship with Richard so she feels she can share her concerns. Why the silence with Mr. Skimpole? Because he enjoys Mr. Jarndyce’s patronage? I suppose. Her silence is out of a feeling of obligation to Mr. Jarndyce. To criticize Mr. Skimpole is to criticize her guardian’s judgment. Perhaps this is why she ends up not returning Mr. Jarndyce’s deeper affections.

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