The Pickwick Papers | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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The Pickwick Papers | Chapter 32 | Summary

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Summary

Bob Sawyer, one of the medical students the Pickwickians met at Manor Farm, hosts a party for friends and invites Mr. Pickwick as well. Unfortunately, Sawyer is behind on his rent and his landlady is furious that he is throwing a party. She contrives to make things difficult, threatening the entire party with the police when they get too noisy. The party breaks up and the guests, some of them very drunk, depart. One of the intoxicated ones, Ben Allen, confides in Mr. Winkle that he intends for his sister Arabella to marry Bob Sawyer, and he will kill any other gentleman who wishes to marry her.

Analysis

Although Dickens usually sided with the poorer people of London, he has no real sympathy for Sawyer's landlady, who is presented as a harridan ready to attack anyone—her husband, her tenant, her servant—who displeases her. Bob Sawyer makes a valiant attempt to behave like a man of the world, but his limited finances and ferocious landlady put a damper on the party.

It is an odd location for Mr. Pickwick, as the guests are primarily medical students and he is a great deal older than any of them. Dickens also illustrates the callous nature of medical students, as most of the party's conversation involves the students' description of the cases they have handled. They appear to have little sympathy for their patients, caring only for an interesting or amusing case.

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