The Pickwick Papers | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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The Pickwick Papers | Chapter 9 | Summary

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Summary

As everyone sits down to supper, the servants discover that Mr. Jingle and Rachael have eloped. Mr. Wardle and Mr. Pickwick set off to find them. They almost catch up to Mr. Jingle and Rachael's chaise when their own chaise hits a bump and tips over. Pickwick and Wardle must walk through the rain to the next town.

Analysis

Mr. Jingle's elopement with Rachael drives this chapter, but it also provides insight into the characters. Mr. Tupman and Pickwick both display a shocking level of naïveté and even cluelessness. Mr. Tupman is outraged that Mr. Jingle has betrayed him, but Pickwick is utterly stunned: he apparently had no idea that either Mr. Tupman or Mr. Jingle was wooing Miss Wardle. Mr. Wardle, on the other hand, is not stunned but infuriated, since he believes his servant, Joe, lied to him (when Joe reported seeing Mr. Tupman and Miss Wardle kissing). The women of his family unite to stop Mr. Wardle from killing Joe, so instead Mr. Wardle sets off after his sister.

Travel between towns was difficult at this time. Roads were not always well-maintained, and turnpikes collected tolls that helped to pay for road maintenance. Horses got tired easily under these conditions, and if a person was traveling long distances he or she would have to stop to "change horses," or get new horses to pull the carriage and let the old ones rest. Mr. Pickwick is almost overcome by the difficulties and is ready to give up and go home. Could Mr. Jingle have anticipated this and created the difficulties specifically to discourage Mr. Pickwick from pursuing them? Mr. Wardle is more realistic and determined, however, and the difficulties of travel do not dissuade him from following Mr. Jingle and his sister.

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