The Pickwick Papers | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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The Pickwick Papers | Chapter 35 | Summary

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Summary

The trial over, Mr. Pickwick proposes to visit the city of Bath with his friends. On the coach to Bath, the Pickwickians meet Mr. Dowler and his wife, and once in Bath, Mr. Dowler introduces them to the Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Bantam. The Master of Ceremonies, or M.C., is an important figure in Bath, and the Pickwickians treat him with the appropriate level of respect. They purchase tickets from him for the evening's ball. The tickets are not ready, so Mr. Pickwick sends Sam to fetch them at the M.C.'s house. Sam has a brief chat with one of the M.C.'s tall, bewigged, and powdered servants, who seems intrigued by Sam. That night, the Pickwickians enjoy the ball, although Pickwick has a difficult time keeping up with the sharp group of female card players he is seated with.

Analysis

Bath was a very important city in the 1700s, though by the time of The Pickwick Papers it was no longer as fashionable as it once had been. The traditions of Bath—the Master of Ceremonies, the Assembly Rooms, and the Pump Room—were established in an earlier, more formal time, but people were still expected to follow them.

Bath has mineral springs and many people gathered in the Pump Room to "drink the waters," which were believed to have healing or restorative powers. The Master of Ceremonies, who coordinated many Bath events, kept a register where guests were supposed to sign in. This register was often at the Pump Room, since new visitors would pay a call there. Dickens's Master of Ceremonies is named Bantam, a term for a small, but aggressive male rooster.

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