I have finished reading The Pickwick Papers. Yay! And what a satisfying ending to a satisfying novel it was. Mr. Dickens wrapped everything up so well—I almost thought there was a neat little red ribbon tying my book together when I finished. But I bet what you’re wondering is what happened to Mr. Pickwick. Did he stay in jail? you’re asking. Well, have no fear, I will give you spoilers:
Mr. Pickwick, and Sam Weller with him, stays in prison for about three months, during which time he realizes that not everyone has a happy life and that some people actually bring more misery on themselves. But not even this convinces him to give up prison life and his pride. Two things happen first: Ms. Bardell’s attorneys, because they were not paid by Mr. Pickwick and Ms. Bardell has no money to pay them, have Ms. Bardell thrown into the debtor’s prison in lieu of the charges. Ms. Bardell agrees to write a statement saying that the whole court case was fabricated by her attorneys and that Mr. Pickwick was innocent, in the hopes that he will pay the fines and they can both leave the prison. Mr. Pickwick still hesitates, but then Mr. Winkle shows up to visit, bringing with him his new wife. They married without the approval of her only guardian, her brother, and without Mr. Winkle’s father’s approval. They beg Mr. Pickwick to leave the prison and intercede for them. As he sees that they are truly in love with each other, he agrees and finally leaves the prison.
Thank goodness! I was happy when Mr. Pickwick left the prison because, frankly, I think he was stubborn and prideful and stupid to remain there. But hey, nobody’s perfect, right? I actually think he’s more likable because he does have flaws—including the flaw of getting himself into impossibly awkward situations (for more of those, read the novel).
Everyone in the story got a happy ending, except, I would say, Mr. Tupman, who I think got the short end of the straw. I kept expecting his first love interest, Miss Rachel Wardle, to reappear and for them to get their happy ending, but, alas, it was not to be, I suppose. Mr. Tupman, who was first described as the romantic one, is the only main character, saving Mr. Pickwick himself, who does not end up with a bride. Oh, Mr. Dickens, you ironic writer you.
Sam Weller was my favorite character, and it appears that I am not alone in that sentiment. Upon Mr. Weller’s first introduction into the world, he became so popular that figurines and other popular items were created based on him. He even inspired the term “wellerism” (which has its own Wikipedia page, so it’s a real thing), which is a phrase that makes fun of clichés and proverbs by proving them wrong.
Sam Weller looking sly
After I finished reading this entertaining novel, I decided to watch the 1985 British dramatization of the novel. There are twelve episodes of about thirty minutes each, but if you have time, I would definitely recommend it. Not only is it entertaining and hilarious, but it is pretty darn accurate to the novel. I was surprised by how young the characters were (except Mr. Pickwick) because for some reason, I’d imagined them all to be around Mr. Pickwick’s age. I’m guessing it was because Dickens hardly ever addresses the characters by their first names, so I just assumed they were older.
Mr. Pickwick in a nightcap! How scandalous!
And what of Charlie, you ask? Well, Charlie and I have been getting on just fine, thank you. He actually accompanied me this morning to get the oil changed in my car, but, as I was reading my next novel, Oliver Twist, I will tell you about that date in my next post.
Before I go, I’ll leave you with one last Pickwick quotation, this one coming from the narrator near the very end of the novel:
It is the fate of most men who mingle with the world, and attain even the prime of life, to make many real friends, and lose them in the course of nature. It is the fate of all authors or chroniclers to create imaginary friends, and lose them in the course of art. Nor is this the full extent of their misfortunes; for they are required to furnish an account of them besides (507).
Authors are to be pitied more than anyone for the friends that they lose.