Charles Dickens di Elisa Armellino



You are going to read a chapter from Charles Dickens’ “/"Bleak House” in which the novel’s main character – Esther – is at Chesney Wald, Dedlock’s estate in Lincolnshire. Outside it is raining and everything is silent.

Keeping in mind that the chapter’s title is “The Ghosts’ Walk”, try to make predictions on the story you are going to read by focusing on the following elements and writing a sentence per each:


-The horses in the stable:

-The mastiff in the courtyard:

-Mrs. Rouncewell (the old housekeeper):

-Her assistant, Rosa, and Watt, her grandson (who is in love with Rosa):

-The portrait of Lady Dedlock:

-The ghost (?):

Now, read the story and find out if your predictions were true.


1. Find adjectives to define the atmosphere in the house and then write the sentences which helped you come to your conclusions.

E.g.: Calm and quietness = “THEY (the horses) may contemplate some mental pictures of fine weather on occasions”

2. An onomatopoeia is a rhetorical figure which imitates sounds through language. Can you find an example of onomatopoeic expressions at the beginning of the chapter? What do they stand for?

3. Read again the description of the horses in the stable: what are they thinking of – according to the narrator, at least? Which words are in stark contrast with the gloomy weather outside? (E.g.: “glistening”, “scent”...)

4. “So now, half–waking and all–winking, he may recall the house full of company, the coach–houses full of vehicles, the stables fall of horses, and the out–buildings full of attendants upon horses, until he is undecided about the present and comes forth to see how it is. Then, with that impatient shake of himself, he may growl in the spirit, “Rain, rain, rain! Nothing but rain—and no family here!” as he goes in again and lies down with a gloomy yawn”. This is what the old mastiff in the court thinks while listening to the rain falling from the sky. Find adjectives to define his mood (e.g.: impatient, angry...).

5. Now, look at Mrs. Rouncewell’s description and says:

a) what she is doing and why =

b) what does she look like =

c) what is her mood =

6. “I hear the rain–drip on the stones,” replies the young man, “and I hear a curious echo—I suppose an echo—which is very like a halting step.” Try to re-write what Rosa says in the above mentioned passage in your own words by beginning with: “Rosa says that...”.

7. Now, think again of the chapter’s title and suggest why it is called “The Ghost’s Walk”.


1. Since you have already described what the characters in the story do and think while, outside, it is raining hard... find parallelisms among the different descriptions. Do you think that Esther, the horses, the mastiff and the housekeeper communicate totally different feelings or that they have something in common?

2. What is the narrator’s point of view of? Is it a first or a third person narrator? Who do you think influences the story – and the way in which characters are described – with her mood and impressions?

3. Do you believe there is just one house in the story? How many ‘houses’ can you see in the text? Do they belong to the present, to the past or to the future?

4. According to Mrs. Rouncewell, all good upper-class families must have a ghost in their family tree. Why do you think Dickens makes a housekeeper says this? Do you think he is being ironical and why?

5. Write a short-story which begins with the same situation of the text by Dickens you read (a boring rainy day) and – following as much as possible the same narrative sequence – invent new characters and a different ending.

6. Write a short story in which you link an onomatopoeic expression to the most important event in the plot and explains its consequences on the characters and the interpretations they give to it.

7. Read Oscar Wilde’s “The Canterbury Ghost”. Find analogies and differences between his work and Dickens’.



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