The narrator and protagonist. Esther, an orphan, becomes the housekeeper at Bleak House when she, Ada, and Richard are taken in by John Jarndyce.
Proprietor of Bleak House and Esther’s guardian. Jarndyce becomes the guardian to the orphans Ada and Richard and takes Esther in as a companion for Ada.
A ward of Chancery in Jarndyce and Jarndyce. A straightforward and likeable but irresponsible and inconstant character who falls under the spell of Jarndyce and Jarndyce.
Also a ward of Chancery in Jarndyce and Jarndyce. She falls in love with Richard Carstone, who is a distant cousin.
Sir Leicester Dedlock.
Husband of Lady Dedlock, a proud and rich aristocrat. Owner of the Chesney Wold estate in Lincolnshire.
Life long friend of John Jarndyce who visits Bleak House. Involved in a property dispute with his neighbour, Sir Leicester Dedlock. Dickens based Boythorn on his highly litigious personal friend, the poet and writer Walter Savage Landor.
Sir Leicester’s lawyer. Scheming and manipulative, he seems to defer to his clients but relishes the power his control of their secrets gives him. He learns of Lady Dedlock’s past and tries to control her conduct, to preserve the reputation and good name of Sir Leicester. He is murdered, and his murder gives Dickens the chance to weave a detective plot into the closing chapters of the book.