The Pickwick Papers | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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The Pickwick Papers | Chapter 28 | Summary



The four Pickwickians travel to Dingley Dell to celebrate Christmas and Bella Wardle's marriage to Mr. Trundle. Emily, her sister, is one of the bridesmaids, much to the delight of Mr. Snodgrass. The other bridesmaid, a beautiful young lady with black eyes named Arabella Allen, catches the attention of Mr. Winkle. Mr. Pickwick beams happily at everyone, gives Bella a beautiful watch as a wedding present, and proposes a wonderful toast.

After the wedding comes Christmas, celebrated merrily by all. There is a lot of kissing under the mistletoe: Mr. Winkle and Arabella Allen, Mr. Snodgrass and Emily, Sam and various female servants, and even Mr. Pickwick is trapped under the mistletoe and kissed repeatedly by the young ladies. The night ends with Christmas games and stories by the fire.


In this chapter the Pickwickians manage to interact with women without any crises or embarrassments. Manor Farm seems to be almost a home away from home, and Mr. Pickwick is at his best, soothing the old lady, proposing a toast to the bride, dancing at the Christmas party, and even kissing under the mistletoe without stepping on literal or figurative toes. In fact, Arabella Allen, who has just met him, proclaims him a dear and encourages the other young women to kiss him. Mr. Pickwick is a good sport, playing games that many elderly gentlemen would see as beneath them, like blind man's bluff (an old-fashioned version of tag where "It" is blindfolded) and snap-dragon, which involved pulling flaming raisins out of a bowl of brandy. Throughout all of this, no one is seriously embarrassed, injured, or insulted.

For most modern readers, Dickens's connection to Christmas is well-established. A Christmas Carol, which would come years later, is the primary reason for that, but Dickens wrote many delightful descriptions of Christmas throughout his career. He describes some traditions that were well-established and had been popular for years, such as the mistletoe or "kissing wreath." That was likely to be one of the main Christmas decorations in an 1830s British home; Christmas trees were unknown. In fact, Christmas trees, a German tradition, were not used in England until the 1840s, when Queen Victoria's consort, the German Prince Albert, popularized them as a form of holiday decoration.

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