Date of Completion

Spring 5-10-2009

Thesis Advisor(s)

Sarah Winter

Honors Major



English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles


“Writing the Wrongs of Chancery and Victorian Society: Esther Summerson of Bleak House and Defining the First-Person” discusses the identity crisis faced by the controversial first person narrator of Charles Dickens’s Bleak House. I argue that Esther is a complex character/narrator who develops an idealized self as a coping mechanism for her identity crisis. Dickens uses Esther’s illness as a physical manifestation of Esther’s separation from her mother and recognition of her identity crisis. By developing Esther’s identity crisis and using the illness to denote Esther’s separation from both her mother and her idealized self, Dickens creates a novel in which he questions our ability to create positive change in a bleak world.