Martin Chuzzlewit | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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Martin Chuzzlewit | Chapters 10–12 | Summary



Chapter 10: Containing Strange Matter, on Which Many Events in this History May, for Their Good or Evil Influence, Chiefly Depend

The reader is shown that all Mr. Pecksniff does in regard to business for his first four days in London is go to the post office to inquire about letters, and then return home. Finally on the fourth day, Mr. Pecksniff receives a letter regarding his business in London. He has a private audience with his daughters for two hours, but the reader is told nothing about the business.

The scene cuts to the older Martin Chuzzlewit receiving a letter from Mr. Pecksniff and tearing it up after reading it. Martin Chuzzlewit then heads to Mrs. Todgers and finds Mr. Pecksniff there. Martin Chuzzlewit is extremely polite and tells Mr. Pecksniff that he wishes to be allies. Mr. Chuzzlewit then asks to see Mr. Pecksniff's daughters, and they fawn all over him. Martin Chuzzlewit thanks Mr. Pecksniff for drawing the family away and helping him escape when everyone descended upon him at the Blue Dragon.

The topic then shifts to the younger Martin, whom Mr. Chuzzlewit says must leave Mr. Pecksniff's house. Mr. Chuzzlewit tells Mr. Pecksniff about how he has renounced Martin as a result of his choosing to give his heart to Mary without permission. Mr. Pecksniff agrees to dismiss Martin once he returns home, and Mr. Chuzzlewit asks Mr. Pecksniff if he can bear being slandered, as the rest of the family certainly will once they find out that he is in Mr. Chuzzlewit's favor. Mr. Pecksniff replies that he thinks he can bear the difficulties to come.

Mr. Chuzzlewit pays for Mr. Pecksniff's expenses surrounding his London trip, has some wine with them, and then leaves. The girls tease their father happily about his new alliance. They are then interrupted by a fight between the youngest gentleman at the boardinghouse and Mrs. Todgers about one of the other gentlemen, Jinkins, whom he doesn't get along with. The youngest gentleman attempts to give his notice, but Mrs. Todgers talks him out of it. Mr. Pecksniff then inquires about the gentleman, and he and Mrs. Todgers have an argument, at the end of which Mr. Pecksniff leaves angrily to go for a walk.

Chapter 11: Wherein a Certain Gentleman Becomes Particular in His Attentions to a Certain Lady; and More Coming Events than One, Cast Their Shadow Before

Bailey junior, the boy who works for Mrs. Todgers, informs Charity that a gentleman has come calling on her. Charity claims that she doesn't know any gentleman, and that he has made a mistake. Mercy is jealous of her sister. Charity goes to see who it is and finds Jonas Chuzzlewit. They talk, and he shows her a note from their father giving both sisters permission to go walking with Jonas. Jonas asks Charity to bring Mercy along.

The sisters go on a long tour of local sites with Jonas, who never actually takes them inside any places because he doesn't want to pay. Jonas takes the sisters to his house, which is also Jonas and his father's office, and they have dinner together. Jonas annoys Charity by continuously flirting with her but asking about her sister Mercy, and annoys Mercy by seemingly showing no interest in her. He takes the girls back home, where Mrs. Todgers notices that he is sweet on Charity. Mr. Pecksniff returns with Jinkins, and then Anthony Chuzzlewit arrives with Jonas. Mr. Chuzzlewit proposes unity between them, and Mr. Pecksniff is hesitant. Mr. Chuzzlewit also informs Mr. Pecksniff that there is something between his son Jonas and Charity. The night coach comes, and the whole Pecksniff party leaves to return home, much to the sorrow of many of the gentlemen at the boardinghouse.

Chapter 12: Will Be Seen in the Long Run, if Not in the Short One, to Concern Mr. Pinch and Others, Nearly. Mr. Pecksniff Asserts the Dignity of Outraged Virtue. Young Martin Chuzzlewit Forms a Desperate Resolution

Tom Pinch and Martin are enjoying themselves thoroughly in Mr. Pecksniff's home while he is away, and have become close friends. Martin says that he'd like to build up Tom's fortune, and employ him some day once he's an architect and married to Mary. Tom Pinch is made very happy by this proclamation until Mary is mentioned. Martin proceeds to daydream about his future with Mary, which puts Tom Pinch into a quiet mood. Martin asks Tom about a letter he received from John Westlock, and Tom tells him that John wrote him inviting the two of them to dine with him at a fancy hotel.

The three meet for dinner, and Martin Chuzzlewit and John Westlock become quick friends. John Westlock tells Tom Pinch that he's ordered everything they used to dream about for dinner. After dinner, Tom Pinch goes to talk with the organist's assistant, and Martin and John talk about what a good and loyal person Tom Pinch is. Martin tells John that Tom Pinch lent Mr. Tigg money, and they agree that Tom is much too trusting of other people. Martin wants John's opinion of Mr. Pecksniff, but John won't answer him straightforwardly. When Martin divulges that he doesn't really like Mr. Pecksniff, John tells him his real feelings, that Mr. Pecksniff is "the most consummate scoundrel on the face of the earth."

Tom Pinch returns, and they toast the health of Mr. Pecksniff. John Westlock gives Tom Pinch money and tells him that it's the return of his loan from Mr. Tigg, while also warning Tom to stay away from Mr. Tigg and not lend him money again. They all spend the night at the hotel and have breakfast together in the morning, before John Westlock heads back to London and Tom and Martin return to Mr. Pecksniff's house. They learn that the family is returning on that evening's coach. Tom Pinch and Martin get up early to await the family's return, but when the Pecksniffs arrive they completely ignore Martin.

Things come to a head when Martin insists on confronting Mr. Pecksniff and Mr. Pecksniff accuses him of being a deceiving scoundrel. Martin advances on Mr. Pecksniff but Tom Pinch restrains him, and Mr. Pecksniff trips backward over a chair. Martin stalks out of the house and Tom chases after him, asking what Martin means to do. Martin replies that he is leaving, and Tom is horrified that he would leave on foot without his clothes or any money. Martin replies that he is going to America, and Tom begs him not to go and gives him a parting gift of a book.


The older Martin Chuzzlewit seems to be up to something, and his new alliance with Mr. Pecksniff is suspicious. There is no clear reason for him to have changed his mind about Mr. Pecksniff, aside from Mr. Pecksniff's connection with Mr. Chuzzlewit's grandson, Martin. Yet he suddenly offers him friendship and money, both of which he has been previously stingy about. Mr. Chuzzlewit states, toward the end of their encounter, "I little thought but a month ago, that I should be breaking bread and pouring wine with you." He also seems to be barely humoring Mr. Pecksniff's daughters. The only thing that the reader can clearly see the elder Mr. Chuzzlewit gaining out of this exchange is that Mr. Pecksniff will cast off Mr. Chuzzlewit's grandson, the younger Martin Chuzzlewit.

There is also clearly some political maneuvering going on between Anthony and Jonas and Mr. Pecksniff and his daughters. Jonas suddenly becomes a lot more proactive about courting the Pecksniff sisters after Mr. Pecksniff's meeting with the older Martin Chuzzlewit. He strangely seems more interested in Mercy, though he courts Charity with more openness.

Later, when Mr. Pecksniff denounces the young Martin Chuzzlewit, Martin clearly knows what is going on and who is behind it. Though he never says a name, he does describe Mr. Pecksniff as "disgraced, bought, used; a cloth for dirty hands, a mat for dirty feet, a lying, fawning, servile hound," implying that someone has "bought" Mr. Pecksniff and he is the "servile hound" of someone—that someone of course being Martin's grandfather.

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