The Pickwick Papers | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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The Pickwick Papers | Chapter 25 | Summary

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Summary

The Pickwickians are charged with various crimes. The magistrate, believing them vicious criminals, refuses to listen to their side of the story—until Sam informs Mr. Pickwick that Jingle and Job are staying at Mr. Nupkins's house. Mr. Pickwick warns the magistrate about Mr. Jingle. Mr. Nupkins is horrified; Mr. Jingle, posing as Captain Fitz-Marshall, has been a favorite of his daughter and wife. Mr. Nupkins clears all charges against Pickwick and invites him to wait and confront Mr. Jingle when he returns to the house. Sam is sent to the servants' quarters, where he meets a pretty servant-girl named Mary. When Job returns, Sam and the servants confront him. Upstairs, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Jingle face off. Mr. Jingle and Job are forced to leave, though they seem untroubled by this fact. Before he and Mr. Pickwick also say farewell, Sam steals a kiss from the pretty housemaid, Mary.

Analysis

Dickens has fun with names again: Nupkin sounds suspiciously like "napkin," and Mr. Nupkin stands up for himself about as well as a table linen might. His clerk, Jinks, must advise him on every step of his job.

Once again proving that legislators and politicians are mere mortals, it is Mr. Nupkins's self-interest that gets Mr. Pickwick and his friends out of a difficult situation. Mr. Nupkins, although a magistrate, is no profound thinker. A chubby elderly man dressed in expensive clothes is unlikely to be a violent man planning a duel; Nupkins could have dismissed the charges on sight, and yet he persists until his own personal reasons give him cause to change his mind. Imagine a lower-class person, such as Sam, brought before the magistrate without a well-spoken and obviously wealthy person to stand up for him. It is easy to see how miscarriages of justice occurred frequently in Dickens's day.

The housemaid Mary will play a larger role in the story, but she begins as a pleasant diversion for Sam, who is by no means opposed to a view of a pretty face. Although Sam has flirted often, Dickens informs the reader that Mary is "Mr. Weller's first love." This is the first example of love among the lower classes, and Sam's continued relationship with Mary plays out in contrast to other romantic relationships throughout the rest of the novel.

Once Job reappears, Sam is ready for action. In keeping with Dickens's idea of the lower classes as more direct and blunt, Sam and the magistrate's butler take the law into their own hands, while upstairs Mr. Pickwick merely lectures Mr. Jingle. Sam, in fact, would like to give Mr. Jingle some lower-class justice, but Pickwick intervenes.

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