Beachin’ with Charlie

This week, Charlie and I went to the beach, and we both got sand all over ourselves, which is bound to happen when one finds oneself at the beach. Charlie didn’t really like the beach—he said it was because there were too many people and too many opportunities for pickpockets to steal things, but I think it’s because he just doesn’t like all the sand and the waves. He’s more of a lake-guy. However, this could be a problem in our relationship, because I absolutely love the beach. Don’t get me wrong—lakes are nice too, but there’s something about laying in the sand and listening to the waves and watching the sky that is just so peaceful and beautiful. I’m sure I can make him come around to my point of view, though.

As far as The Pickwick Papers goes, I am now halfway through the book, and I should probably pick up my pace a bit as I’ve been reading it for two and a half weeks. However, it has been enlightening and amusing.

The Pickwickians are true gentlemen. They do not hesitate to apologize when they are in the wrong, and they always act with the upmost politeness, treating others with respect and dignity. Even so, they somehow end up in slightly awkward situations. As Mr. Pickwick declares:

Is it not a wonderful circumstance that we seem destined to enter no man’s house without involving him in some degree of trouble? (156)

The most pressing situation they are in right now is with a widow, Ms. Bardell. She was under the impression that Mr. Pickwick was going to propose to her (an impression that he definitely did not see), and when he failed to propose, she decided to sue him. I’ve yet to see what the outcome will be, but do not fear—Mr. Pickwick has enlisted his own legal help in the matter.

The Pickwickians also know the difference between justice and revenge. They discover that their trusted ex-friend—who betrayed Mr. Tupman and ran away with the woman Mr. Tupman loved—is at his money-making schemes again and has his sights set on a wealthy young girl in town. Mr. Pickwick immediately informs the family of the true nature of that man, but he doesn’t try to destroy him. The family ends their relationship with the false man, and the Pickwickians are satisfied.

At one point, Mr. Pickwick decides to hire a man-servant, a Mr. Sam Weller. He provides many moments of entertainment, but none so entertaining as his father, who gives his son some sage advice:

“I’ve only this here one little bit of advice to give you. If ever you gets upwards of fifty, and feel disposed to go a-marrying anybody—no matter who—just you shut yourself up in your own room, if you’ve got one, and poison yourself off hand. Hanging’s vulgar, so don’t you have nothing to say to that. Poison yourself, Samuel, my boy, poison yourself, and you’ll be glad on it afterwards.” With these affecting words, Mr. Weller looked steadfastly on his son, and turning slowly upon his heel, disappeared from his sight. (201)*

He needs to get his priorities straight!

Facts About Charlie

Dickens was born into a poor family in a southern coastal town of England. His father was a naval clerk and his mother was a teacher. Dickens was the second oldest of eight children. When Dickens was ten, he and his family moved to a poor neighborhood in London. His father was sent to prison for debt two years later, and Charlie had to leave school and go work at a factory by the river, labeling pots that were filled with a substance used to clean fireplaces. He earned six shillings a week to support his family. Charlie references this moment in his life as the time he lost his childhood innocence and was forced to grow up and be a man. He never really forgave the world for taking away his innocence.**

I’ll leave you with a thought to ponder—a quotation from The Pickwick Papers, in which a servant shares his definition of philosophy:

If my mother-in-law blows him up, he whistles. She flies in a passion, and breaks his pipe; he steps out, and gets another. Then she screams very loud, and falls into hysterics; and he smokes very comfortably till she comes to again. That’s philosophy, Sir, ain’t it? (135)

*Sam Weller and his father both speak with heavy accents that are sometimes difficult to read. I’ve written Mr. Weller’s words in proper English, rather than the written dialect, to make the passage easier to read.


2 thoughts on “Beachin’ with Charlie

  1. Dot McCrory says:

    I look forward to your blogs. When I see one in my inbox, I read it first. I have a friend who doesn’t read Dickens because he is so sad, she says. I understand some sadness in many situations he writes about, but there is always someone who provides comic relief, much the same way Shakespeare did in his tragedies. Pickwick is great comedy and I think Sam Weller is one of his great characters.


  2. I completely agree! Dickens always finds a way to make people laugh as well as cry. You should encourage your friend to try The Pickwick Papers—it seems to be more of a comedy than tragedy! Sam Weller is definitely one of my favorite Dickens characters, too.


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