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Martin Chuzzlewit | Quotes


Some men are remarkable for taking uncommon good care of themselves.

Narrator, Chapter 1

This line is probably satirical, and could refer to men "taking care of themselves" in regard to acquiring wealth, power, and other material objects. These things are important themes in the following chapters.


Men do play very strange and extraordinary tricks.

Narrator, Chapter 1

This line sets up one of the main elements of the plot—people playing "tricks" and deceiving other characters is one of the crucial parts of the story.


The birds were silent; and the gloom of winter dwelt on everything.

Narrator, Chapter 2

Known for his descriptive writing, Dickens here uses imagery to create mood.


But what can anyone expect from Mr. Pinch!

Charity Pecksniff, Chapter 2

This quotation is uttered by Charity, which is an example of dramatic irony because Charity is in the act of being extremely uncharitable toward Tom Pinch, who is a very kind and generous character. The disparity between Charity's understanding and the audience's understanding of the characters creates the irony.


The fourth day found Mr. Pecksniff apparently much farther from his Christian object than the first.

Narrator, Chapter 4

This line is satirical, because Mr. Pecksniff is trying to worm his way into Mr. Chuzzlewit's good graces and has waited four days in order to perform this "Christian object" of getting closer to Mr. Chuzzlewit for his money.


He was full of promise, but of no performance. He was always ... going to go, and never going.

Narrator, Chapter 5

This description refers to Mr. Pecksniff's horse, and is an allusion to Mr. Pecksniff's own character. Mr. Pecksniff is certainly a man of many words and little action.


A somewhat elaborate use of his pocket-handkerchief ... for he would not have his weakness known.

Narrator, Chapter 20

The narrator is making a commentary about Mr. Pecksniff's hypocritical character here: he uses his handkerchief "elaborately" so that everyone notices that he's shedding tears, but does it to show that he's covering a "weakness."


Displaying his gallantry in that engaging manner which was peculiar to him.

Narrator, Chapter 20

Jonas sits between both of the Pecksniff sisters not because he's gallant, but because he enjoys leading them on. Thus this line is clearly a satirical one.


Who dreamed of Freedom in a slave's embrace, and waking sold her offspring and his own in public markets.

Narrator, Chapter 21

This is a dark and powerful stab at the institution of slavery, in contrast to the supposed freedom and liberty that the United States offered. The reader glimpses Dickens's own opinions about slavery in the voice of the narrator.


In their looks, dress, morals, manners, habits, intellect, and conversation ... [they] reduced all subjects to the same standard.

Narrator, Chapter 21

This is a commentary on a particular type of American that Martin and Mark keep running into and can't stand. It's the type of person who only seems to care about money and likes to listen to themselves talk.


He forgot already (and often afterwards), that they were no longer master and servant.

Narrator, Chapter 21

The narrator is communicating Mark's thoughts on Martin. Martin has just told Mark that they are friends, and not master and servant, and then ordered Mark about the way he would a servant. This is indicative of Martin's self-centeredness.


It was in his nature to seek to revenge himself on the fine clothes ... in exact proportion as he had been unable to withstand their influence.

Narrator, Chapter 27

This quote refers to Jonas's complex relationship with money and wealth. He desperately wants money and wants to be connected to people with money, but he also resents the wealth of others.


Firstly, there was money to be made by it. Secondly, the money had the ... charm of being ... obtained at other people's cost.

Narrator, Chapter 28

This is another characterization of Jonas and his relationship with money. He prefers money that is gained by duping other people, instead of through honest work.


He was greedy for power, and was, in his heart, as much a tyrant as any laureled conqueror on record.

Narrator, Chapter 28

This quotation foreshadows Jonas's behavior toward his wife and even his later murder of Mr. Tigg. It's an unusually straightforward characterization from the narrator.


Any may see ... that it will be something following in natural succession, and a part of one great growth, which is rotten at the root.

Younger Martin Chuzzlewit, Chapter 34

Martin is making a commentary about the American social structure, which he claims is "rotten" in its core. This rottenness seems to be a combination of greed and slavery.

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