The Pickwick Papers | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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The Pickwick Papers | Chapter 50 | Summary



Mr. Pickwick sets out to meet with Mr. Winkle's father and plead the newlyweds' case. Ben Allen and Bob Sawyer come along, but they spend most of the trip drinking. By the time they arrive at Mr. Winkle's house, they are very inebriated. Pickwick does his best to be persuasive, but Mr. Winkle, senior, is unresponsive. He is offended by Pickwick's drunken companions and expresses his opinion that the marriage was a poor choice for his son because Arabella did not have a lot of money. He describes himself as a "man of business" who looks at the marriage as a business decision, and not a good one.


Throughout the book Dickens presents two views of marriage: the practical marriage for money or reputation, which does not seem to work, and the romantic marriage, which does. Mr. Winkle and Arabella's marriage, and the romantic ghost story of the previous chapter, celebrate marriage for love. This chapter returns the reader to reality with a thud, as there is no romance in Mr. Winkle, senior, or in a couple of embarrassingly intoxicated relatives.

In this era, people, particularly women, were encouraged to make "good" marriages. Traditionally, the man brought wealth to the family, either inherited or through hard work, while the woman supervised the household which consumed the wealth. Mr. Winkle's reaction may suggest that he views his son as less of a provider than a consumer, an idea that no reader would dispute at this point, since he has seemed laughably ineffectual throughout the book. In fact, it's surprising that he was able to elope with Arabella without Sam's help.

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