The Pickwick Papers | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "The Pickwick Papers Study Guide." Course Hero. 14 June 2017. Web. 16 Nov. 2018. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, June 14). The Pickwick Papers Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 16, 2018, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "The Pickwick Papers Study Guide." June 14, 2017. Accessed November 16, 2018.


Course Hero, "The Pickwick Papers Study Guide," June 14, 2017, accessed November 16, 2018,

The Pickwick Papers | Chapter 49 | Summary



This chapter recounts a ghost story about the bagman's uncle, who was walking late one night and dozes off near a deserted coach yard. He awakens to find it full of activity. He is told he must ride the coach and is forced inside, along with two gentlemen and a young lady. The lady whispers a plea for help, so the uncle challenges the men to a duel. He kills one of the men, and the lady kills the other. The lady is so beautiful that the uncle falls in love with her and promises that he will never marry another. At the sound of pursuers, the two of them run away, but at that moment the uncle wakes up. He is sitting on an old abandoned coach in the yard where he'd fallen asleep, and the lady is nowhere to be found: she was a ghost.


Dickens worked hard to keep his audience engaged throughout the many issues of The Pickwick Papers, and these inset tales were one of his favorite tricks. In this case he uses a ghost story—a device he would use again in the future—to explore how a man can find his heroic side when a beautiful lady needs him. Coming as it does between Mr. Pickwick's two "breaking the news" conversations, it seems that Dickens's romantic side is coming to the fore. Dickens—and Pickwick—both respect the choice that Mr. Winkle and Arabella have made, choosing love over societal expectations. The man in the story also confounds expectation by remaining faithful to the beautiful ghost he rescued. But just in case the tone is getting too romantic, Dickens ends the chapter with a bad joke about mail ghosts and "dead letters." This is The Pickwick Papers, after all, and not a grand romance.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about The Pickwick Papers? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!