Summary of Chapter L: Esther’s Narrative
Caddy and Prince Turveydrop have a baby girl and name her after Esther. Caddy however, remains ill and feels she will get better if Esther visits her. Esther visits her three times, and then Mr. Jarndyce decides they should move to their London quarters, so it will be easier for Esther. Both Caddy and the baby are frail, and Esther spends a good part of every day nursing them. Mr. Jarndyce also arranges for Woodcourt to be Caddy’s doctor, and his attention brings her to full health.
Esther and Woodcourt meet often at Caddy’s, and Esther decides she must make it clear to Ada and Caddy that she is engaged. During this time Esther does not spend much time with Ada but notices their relationship has changed. Ada is quiet and does not communicate. She seems full of a sorrow, but Esther does not ask her about it; she tries to cheer her up. Mr. Jarndyce says that Mr. Woodcourt “seems half inclined for another voyage” (p. 520).
Commentary on Chapter L
Esther hints more than she reveals, making the reader guess what is going on in the background. Ada is keeping a secret from Esther, who is too preoccupied with Caddy to get her to confide. One can guess it has to do with Richard. She keeps one hand hidden beneath her pillow.
When Jarndyce mentions he wants to call in Woodcourt on Caddy’s behalf, Esther is flustered: “all that I had had in my mind in connexion with Mr. Woodcourt seemed to come back and confuse me” (p. 516). Esther’s delicate timing about announcing her engagement to her friends seems to be bound up with her meeting Woodcourt so often. It seems there is still some feeling between them, and she is trying to make clear her own intentions.
Mr. Jarndyce asks Esther if Woodcourt has any great disappointment in the world. She says she knows of none. Jarndyce would like to offer help to the young man but does not know how. His mentioning he might go to sea confirms the idea he could be disappointed in love.