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The Pickwick Papers | Chapter 8 | Summary

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Summary

Back at the Wardles' house, Mr. Tupman has received tender care from Rachael, Isabella, and Emily and has grown even more attached to Rachael. When they are alone together in the garden he expresses his love to her. She acknowledges her feelings for him, and they kiss, but are interrupted by Joe, the sleepy servant boy. Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Snodgrass, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Wardle return from the cricket match, bringing Mr. Jingle with them. All of them are drunk, but Mr. Jingle conceals it better than the others. While Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Snodgrass, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Wardle are packed off to bed, Mr. Jingle is an immediate hit with the ladies, which worries Mr. Tupman.

The next day Mr. Jingle overhears Joe telling Mrs. Wardle (Rachael and Mr. Wardle's mother) that he saw Rachael and Mr. Tupman kissing. Mr. Jingle uses what he overheard to insinuate himself between Rachael and Mr. Tupman. He tells Rachael that she and Mr. Tupman were seen, and then claims that Mr. Tupman only wants her money and really loves one of Rachael's nieces. Rachael believes him. Mr. Jingle then focuses on Mr. Tupman. He persuades Mr. Tupman that Rachael wants him to flirt with her niece Emily to keep their romance a secret. Mr. Tupman follows this advice, but to Rachael it seems to prove that he really prefers her niece, and she turns more and more to Mr. Jingle.

Analysis

While the others are off at the cricket match, Mr. Tupman takes his opportunity to profess his love to Rachael, in what turns out to be a funny, rather than romantic, scene. Dickens has described Mr. Tupman as plump and older; Rachael as a "spinster aunt" is seen as undesirable, and yet they find romance together. Mr. Tupman's exuberance, however, leads them into trouble, as Joe, the servant boy, spots them kissing. In this era men and women were rarely left alone together long enough for them to exchange "numerous kisses," as Dickens describes. If Mr. Tupman truly intended to marry Rachael, he would be expected to get her brother's permission (as he is her oldest male relative); after being caught kissing, Mr. Tupman might well be expected to propose to Rachael whether he wanted to or not.

Had Mr. Wardle been home, Mr. Tupman might have asked his permission, but Wardle and the others return late at night and very drunk, so he has no opportunity. The women do not realize that Mr. Jingle is just as drunk as the others, which suggests that Mr. Jingle may be experienced at disguising his level of drunkenness.

When Mr. Jingle overhears Joe's report about Mr. Tupman and Rachael, he begins to reveal his true self. Jingle is a mercenary who cares little for other people's feelings. Dickens states that Mr. Jingle pursues Rachael because he thinks he can win her and because he believes she has money.

This is also the first time where naïveté gets someone hurt. Mr. Tupman believes what Mr. Jingle tells him and appreciates Mr. Jingle's support, while Mr. Jingle is actually ruining Mr. Tupman's chances with Rachael. For Rachael it is less a question of naïveté and more about her insecurities: she finds it easy to believe that Mr. Tupman is more attracted to her young niece than to her.

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