Analyze George's character in the novel. What is the significance of his role in Bleak House?
The importance of the character of George in this lengthy Dickensian classic lies in his former friendship with the man who is only introduced as Nemo in the novel, the former Captain Hawdon. Tulkinghorn is desperate to discover the true identity of this Nemo, as he strongly suspects that he has had a relationship with Lady Deadlock, but he needs a handwriting sample from him to ensure that Nemo and Captain Hawdon are one and the same person. George therefore, although he initially refuses to give Tulkinghorn this sample, is forced to in Chapter 34, aptly titled "A Turn of the Screw," in order to save the Bagnets, to whom he is endebted, from destitution. Tulkinghorn makes a clear offer that if George gives him the letter from Captain Hawdon the Bagnets will be in the clear:
In case you choose to leave it here, I can do this for you--I can replace this matter on its old footing, and I can go so far besides as to give you a written undertaking that this man Bagnet shall never be troubled in any way until you have been proceeded against to the utmost, that your means shall be exhausted before the creditor looks to his. This is in fact all but freeing him.
What George does not know is that Tulkinghorn was behind Smallweed's immediate demand of the payment of the Bagnet's debt, and thus he has effectively orchestrated a situation in which George will feel honour-bound to deliver the letter to Tulkinghorn, so that he can get the proof he has been searching for. The importance of George therefore in the novel as a whole is that it is he who provides the final piece of proof linking Nemo to Lady Deadlock and her illicit past and her illegitimate daughter. Also, George is an honourable character who only gives Tulkinghorn what he is after because he has no other choice, and thus his character shows the duplicity of Tulkinghorn and of lawyers in general. This of course links to the larger theme of the novel, which is the presentation of lawyers and legal processes as being corrupt and deliberately obscure, as the Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce case amply demonstrates.