Law, Literature and Symbolic Revolution: Bleak House
Australasian Journal of Victorian Studies, Vol 12, No 1 (2007)
In 1988 the House of Lords decided an appeal case entitled City of London Building Society v. Flegg, in which a Mr and Mrs Flegg had bought a house for their daughter and son-in-law, Mr and Mrs Maxwell-Brown. All four lived in the property. However, the younger couple mortgaged it without notifying the others. The Fleggs then sued the building society, seeking recognition of their equitable interest. The property was named “Bleak House,” and fittingly the trial and two appeals involved a veritable “fog” of legal technicality (Warrington). The name of this house provides evidence for the cultural power of Dickens’s novel. The nature and extent of that power in the field of the law is the subject of this essay.