The Pickwick Papers | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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The Pickwick Papers | Chapter 48 | Summary



Arabella's aunt, with whom she had been staying, goes to Bob Sawyer's office to inform him and Ben, Arabella's brother, about the elopement. Sam and Mr. Pickwick arrive shortly after the announcement. Ben Allen blames them, but Mr. Pickwick's explanation is persuasive enough that eventually—and with the assistance of a lot of alcohol—Ben, Bob, and Arabella's aunt all accept the marriage. Allen and Sawyer invite Mr. Pickwick to stay with them, but he pleads fatigue and retires to his inn, where he meets a one-eyed bagman (a traveling salesman) who tells him a story.


Now that Mr. Pickwick is free, Dickens returns to the broad comedy style of earlier chapters. The dialogue between Bob Sawyer, Ben Allen, and Arabella's aunt is difficult to follow. The aunt tries to break the news to Sawyer first, but he thinks she is asking for medical advice. When he realizes what she is saying, he shouts out the news to Ben, who immediately attacks the aunt's servant. Mr. Pickwick and Sam enter at this point and more confusion ensues. After the melancholy and muted tone of the prison chapters, Dickens has taken the plot in a totally different direction.

Dickens also shows that Pickwick is not totally unaffected by his time in prison. He pleads fatigue as a reason to leave Sawyer and Allen, but his true reason, Dickens reveals, is fear of Arabella's aunt, who was looking affectionately at him. Mrs. Bardell comes to Mr. Pickwick's mind, and he is determined to flee rather than face another misunderstanding. Perhaps he has found wisdom at last.

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