Chiming in on some of what has been said since my first post. I agree that many of the characters are thinly developed. However there are so many characters in the constellations of characters swirling about the principal characters of Esther, John Jarndyce, and Lady Dedlock that to pursue development for all would have created a massive work. Sometimes the characters seemed to be there for color and humor, e.g. the Smallweeds, and sometimes to to serve as archetypes for a class or type of people in the book, e.g. Jenny.
I enjoyed how Dickens' took aim at various 'do-gooders'―Mrs. Jellyby, Mrs. Pardiggle, and Reverend Mr. Chadband―who ignore the poverty and injustice right around them, including in their own families, while expending time and money accomplishing nothing for distant strangers. In fact if anything making the world a worse place.
The female characters in this book were all rather weak in my opinion. Most because Dickens really did not devote enough attention to them, Mrs Bagnet being an exception. The two principal female characters also struck me as weak. Esther while she had a good heart, confined herself largely to expressing her views in her diary, while taking what ever bone was thrown her direction and not being confrontational in the face of the wrongs she encountered all around her. Lady Dedlock was a bland character that invoked no sympathy from me.