(Note – I read the book “blind”, that is with no idea what it contained. I wrote the essays immediately after reading, so they are first impressions.)
I’ll admit Mr. Skimpole provided a bit of riddle for me from the beginning. He shows up just after we are truly introduced to Mr. Jarndyce (we had met Mr. J once before and had heard of him often, but we had only just begun to actually know him when Mr. S shows up). He is a character that is very often in Esther’s narrative but never, I believe, in the third person narrative. The thing is, I never really figured out his purpose. I know that sounds odd, but even though Dickens wrote a whole telephone book of names into his novels, each one has a purpose, and the more they show up, the more important the purpose. Mr. S. is one of the biggest characters in Esther’s narrative but did not figure in either of the big plots (the law suit, Lady Dedlock’s mystery) nor did he further any subplot at all.
So what was Mr. Skimpole’s purpose?Continue reading