The Pickwick Papers | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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The Pickwick Papers | Chapter 30 | Summary



Two new people arrive at Manor Farm: Arabella Allen's brother, Ben, and his friend, Bob Sawyer. Both are medical students (Sam Weller insists on referring to them as "sawbones"). Their arrival puts a damper on the flirtation between Arabella and Mr. Winkle. The party decides to go ice-skating. Mr. Winkle is a terrible skater, and Mr. Pickwick calls him a "humbug." Pickwick tries "sliding" on the ice, but it cracks underneath him and he falls in. He is rescued and recovers at the farm before they all head back to London.


Although the Christmas celebrations continue, Mr. Pickwick is back to his usual reality, as he falls through the ice when he tries skating. Perhaps Dickens wanted the Christmas party to stand on its own without Mr. Pickwick's foolishness, or perhaps he wanted Mr. Pickwick to be "at home" only inside the confines of the farmhouse itself.

In this chapter Mr. Pickwick labels Mr. Winkle "a humbug." That is the same word used against Pickwick himself by Mr. Blotton in the first chapter and seems to be the Pickwickian epithet of choice. The real question seems to be: why did it take Mr. Pickwick so long to apply this term to Mr. Winkle? Mr. Winkle has demonstrated his incompetence repeatedly. Mr. Pickwick was willing to give Mr. Winkle many opportunities to redeem himself before targeting him with what Pickwick believes is a withering criticism. Of course "humbug" is a very mild insult, but Mr. Pickwick takes it seriously, as does Mr. Winkle.

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