Pickwick Papers

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A novel by Dickens, first issued in 20 monthly parts April 1836–Nov. 1837, and as a volume in 1837.

Mr Samuel Pickwick, general chairman of the Pickwick Club which he has founded, Messrs Tracy Tupman, Augustus Snodgrass, and Nathaniel Winkle, members of the club, are constituted a Corresponding Society of the Club to report to it their journeys and adventures, and observations of characters and manners. This is the basis on which the novel is constructed, and the club serves to link a series of detached incidents and changing characters, without elaborate plot. The principal elements in the story are:

1 the visit of Pickwick and his friends to Rochester and their falling in with the specious rascal Jingle, who gets Winkle involved in the prospect of a duel (fortunately averted).

2 The visit to Dingley Dell, the home of the hospitable Mr Wardle; the elopement of Jingle with Wardle's sister, their pursuit by Wardle and Pickwick, and the recovery of the lady; followed by the engagement of Sam Weller as Pickwick's servant.

3 The visit to Eatanswill, where a parliamentary election is in progress.

4 The visit to Bury St Edmunds, where Mr Pickwick and Sam Weller are fooled by Jingle and his servant, Job Trotter.

5 The pursuit of Jingle to Ipswich, where Mr Pickwick inadvertently enters the bedroom of a middle‐aged lady at night.

6 The Christmas festivities at Dingley Dell.

7 The misapprehension of Mrs Bardell, Mr Pickwick's landlady, regarding her lodger's intentions, which leads to the famous action of Bardell v. Pickwick for breach of promise of marriage.

8 The visit to Bath, in which Winkle figures prominently in his courtship of Arabella Allen.

9 The period of Mr Pickwick's imprisonment in the Fleet in consequence of his refusal to pay the damages and costs of his action; and the discovery of Jingle and Job Trotter in that prison, and their relief by Mr Pickwick.

10 The affairs of Tony Weller (Sam's father) and the second Mrs Weller, ending in the death of the latter and the discomfiture of the pious humbug and greedy drunkard Stiggins, deputy shepherd in the Ebenezer Temperance Association.

11 The affairs of Bob Sawyer and Benjamin Allen, medical students and subsequently struggling practitioners. The novel ends with the happy marriage of Emily Wardle and Augustus Snodgrass.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century).

Reference entries

Charles Dickens (1812—1870) novelist

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