Martin Chuzzlewit | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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Martin Chuzzlewit | Chapters 4–6 | Summary



Chapter 4: From Which It Will Appear That if Union Be Strength, and Family Affection Be Pleasant to Contemplate, the Chuzzlewits Were the Strongest and Most Agreeable Family in the World

Mr. Pecksniff, in hopes of being summoned by Mr. Chuzzlewit, doesn't leave his house for four days except to eavesdrop at the Blue Dragon, hoping to hear something important. At one such time, he is apprehended by a scruffy man dressed "shabby-genteel" who takes him outside and accuses him of eavesdropping. Upon hearing that he is addressing Mr. Pecksniff, the scruffy man pulls a letter from his top hat and gives it to him, claiming that it is from a Mr. Chevy Slyme, whom Mr. Pecksniff seems to know or have heard of. The man introduces himself as a Mr. Tigg, the adopted brother of Mr. Slyme, and goes to bring Mr. Slyme out from the Blue Dragon. It comes out that Mr. Slyme is married to Mr. Chuzzlewit's niece, and so is also a relative of his.

Mr. Tigg reveals that they are there for money, and that many other members of Mr. Chuzzlewit's family have also showed up. After Mr. Slyme leaves, Mr. Tigg asks Mr. Pecksniff to loan Mr. Slyme five shillings, and Mr. Pecksniff declines. In the coming days, the entire family arrives at the Blue Dragon and lays siege to Mr. Chuzzlewit. A council of the entire family is called at Mr. Pecksniff's house, and a quarrel erupts wherein some venomous insults are hurled about by various members of the family. Finally, Mr. Spottletoe arrives with the news that while the whole family was gathered at Mr. Pecksniff's, Mr. Chuzzlewit disappeared from the Blue Dragon and no one knows where he has gone.

Chapter 5: Containing a Full Account of the Installation of Mr. Pecksniff's New Pupil Into the Bosom of Mr. Pecksniff's Family. With All the Festivities Held on That Occasion, and the Great Enjoyment of Mr. Pinch

Tom Pinch leaves in the carriage to pick up Mr. Pecksniff's new pupil, whose name has not yet been mentioned. On his way he meets an acquaintance named Mark, who works at the Blue Dragon, and gives him a lift. Mark claims to be leaving the Blue Dragon because he wants to gain credit by being cheerful in the face of adversity and the Blue Dragon has become too easy and jolly. There is detailed and lengthy description of Salisbury through the eyes of Tom Pinch as he walks around the area for the first time.

While eating in the pub where he is supposed to meet the new pupil, Tom Pinch meets a young man who turns out to be the pupil he is waiting for, the younger Martin Chuzzlewit. They talk in the carriage on the way back to Mr. Pecksniff's, and it comes out that Tom Pinch plays the organ in a little church because he has fallen in love with a woman who stops to listen to him. Martin Chuzzlewit is introduced to Mr. Pecksniff and his daughters, and they all have dinner together.

Chapter 6: Comprises, Among Other Important Matters, Pecksniffian and Architectural, and Exact Relation of the Progress Made by Mr. Pinch in the Confidence and Friendship of the New Pupil

The Pecksniff family has breakfast with Martin and Tom Pinch. Martin helps himself to bacon that is usually set aside for Mr. Pecksniff only, which embarrasses Tom. Mr. Pecksniff gives Martin some architectural homework and then takes him aside to speak with him alone. Martin comes back unusually subdued. Tom Pinch is happy for a chance to write to his sister, Ruth, and Mr. Pecksniff very condescendingly offers to mail the letter for him. Charity and Mercy privately make fun of Tom Pinch and the idea that he might have a sister.

Martin makes Tom Pinch feel bad for receiving a kind letter from John Westlock. That evening Martin and Tom Pinch sit in front of the fire and Martin opens up about his family situation. He explains that he was raised by his grandfather, whom he likes but finds flawed in his obstinance and selfishness. It turns out that Martin has been disinherited because his grandfather found out that he is in love with his grandfather's ward, Mary. Martin tells Tom Pinch that Mary reciprocates his feelings, but if his grandfather found out she would lose everything and be cast off. Martin tells Tom Pinch that the visitor Tom had fallen in love with at the church was Mary. Tom Pinch reads Martin to sleep.


It becomes increasingly clear why the elder Martin Chuzzlewit has become bitter and shut himself away from his family. They are made out to be money-grubbing, selfish, and uncivilized throughout the course of Chapter 6, while they lay siege to Mr. Chuzzlewit and argue about absolutely nothing at their meeting.

The reader is given more insight into Mr. Pecksniff's character and his relationship with Tom Pinch. Mr. Pecksniff's stinginess becomes more apparent, as he is said to feed himself well and skimp on feed for his horse: "he was a raw-boned, haggard horse, always on a much shorter allowance of corn than Mr. Pecksniff." In contrast, when Tom Pinch takes the horse to pick up the younger Martin, he looks after the horse, "Having seen [the horse] eat to his heart's content ... "

At one point, Dickens shifts to more archaic formal language when pontificating about Tom Pinch, who the narrator portrays as a simple and good-natured character being taken advantage of by Mr. Pecksniff. As Tom Pinch drives to pick up Martin, the reader is shown how well liked he is, and how people see him as entirely good-natured: "For who minded poor Mr. Pinch? There was no harm in him."

Martin Chuzzlewit turns out to be Mr. Pecksniff's new pupil, which Dickens hints out from the first mention that the older Martin Chuzzlewit has a grandson. Martin begins likable enough, but displays a level of self-centeredness and inconsiderateness to Tom Pinch, which is probably expected to be congruous with his young age. Martin rather insensitively tells Tom Pinch that the woman he is in love with from afar is Mary, and Tom is yet again relegated to second place in the story—even his love interest is taken over by the younger and more heroic Martin Chuzzlewit.

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