The Pickwick Papers | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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The Pickwick Papers | Chapter 55 | Summary



Sam and his father meet with Mr. Pell, the lawyer from the Insolvent Court whom we encountered in Chapter 43, to wrap up the affairs of the late Mrs. Weller. This simple will requires, under Pell's management, several trips to Doctors' Commons, a civil law court which dealt with probate issues, as well as visits to and notices from other offices. By the time Mr. Weller and Sam receive the property, the one-page will has turned into a "mass of papers."


For the first time in the novel, a lawyer does precisely what his client wants. Mr. Pell takes Mrs. Weller's will through probate, obtains the money for his client, and helps his client manage the money. As Mr. Weller and Sam are not well-versed in probate law or financial investment, there are a number of humorous misunderstandings along the way, but the humor does not conceal the fundamental fact that Dickens still didn't trust lawyers. As the narrator comments toward the end of the chapter, the Weller will "was by very many degrees the best professional job [Mr. Pell] had ever had, and one on which he boarded, lodged, and washed, for six months afterwards." Even a good lawyer with a smart client (in this case, Sam and his father) manages to find a way to make so much money off one small case that he could live off it for six months.

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