The Pickwick Papers | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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The Pickwick Papers | Chapter 54 | Summary

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Summary

Mr. Wardle arrives at Perker the lawyer's office seeking advice. He has just learned that his daughter Emily is in love with Pickwick's friend Mr. Snodgrass. Meanwhile, at the hotel, Emily secretly meets with Mr. Snodgrass, chaperoned by Arabella Winkle and her maid Mary (Sam's ladylove). Mr. Wardle arrives unexpectedly and Mr. Snodgrass has to hide in Mr. Wardle's room to avoid discovery. But Joe spots him in there, and Mr. Snodgrass has to come out and explain himself. After much arguing and complaining, Mr. Wardle seems to be growing accustomed to the idea of the wedding.

Analysis

Dickens manages to squeeze in one more ridiculous series of events before bringing the story to its happy conclusion. Mr. Snodgrass's unexpected need to hide and the series of events that follow, not to mention the ludicrous behavior of Joe the servant boy, provide some comic relief after the more serious tone of the last chapter.

Mr. Wardle's reaction to Emily and Mr. Snodgrass's secret romance offers a contrast to Ben Allen's handling of Arabella. Both men, by Victorian standards, have the right to be irritated by these marriages they did not plan: as a father and an older brother, they would have been allowed to dispose of the women in whatever way they thought best. But Ben Allen was more inclined to do that, actually taking Arabella away and threatening to kill any man she loved. Mr. Wardle, while he blusters and argues, never does anything to Emily or Mr. Snodgrass. In fact, after Mr. Snodgrass's long proclamation of love in this chapter, Mr. Wardle's first reaction is "Why ... couldn't you say all this to me in the first instance?" While neither pair of lovers really suffered all that much, Emily and Mr. Snodgrass seem to have suffered needlessly.

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