Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Selfishness is a strong family trait in Martin and Anthony Chuzzlewit, two aged brothers. From his cradle, Anthony’s son, Jonas, has been taught to think only of money and gain; in his eagerness to possess his father’s wealth, he often grows impatient for the old man to die. Old Martin Chuzzlewit suspects the world of having designs on his fortune; his distrust and lack of generosity have turned his grandson, his namesake, into a model of selfishness and obstinacy. The old man’s heart is not as hard as it seems, for he has taken into his house as his companion and ward an orphan named Mary Graham. He tells her that she will have a comfortable home as long as he lives but that she should expect nothing at his death. His secret wish is that love might grow between her and his grandson, but when young Martin tells him that he has chosen Mary for his own, old Martin is displeased, afraid that the young couple are acting in their own interests. A disagreement follows, and the old man turns his grandson out of his house.
Thrown on his own resources, young Martin decides to become an architect. He arranges to study with Mr. Pecksniff, an architect and land surveyor, who lives in a little Wiltshire village not far from Salisbury. Mr. Pecksniff agrees to train two or three pupils in return for a large premium and exorbitant charges for board and lodging. He thinks highly of himself as a moral man, and he has a copybook maxim to quote for every occasion. He...
(The entire section is 1922 words.)
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Chapters 1-3 Summary
The Chuzzlewit family is of a distinguished and noble heritage, descended directly from Adam and Eve. Like the First Parents, there may have been “murderers and vagabonds” among its descendants, but for the most part, the Chuzzlewits have been illustrious and involved in many aspects of English history. It is said that one Chuzzlewit ancestor was involved in Fawkes’ plot to blow up Parliament. It may even be that Fawkes himself was a Chuzzlewit, since there was one female ancestor who was known as “the Match Maker” for her tendency to start fires. All in all, the Chuzzlewits, though not possessing vast landed estates and titles, have long been one of the finest families in England.
On a windy autumn day, Seth Pecksniff, architect and land surveyor, returns to his home only to be knocked on his back by his front door, slammed in his face by the wind. His younger daughter, Mercy, helps him inside. She and her sister Charity (who retains the habits and personality of a girl) listen to their father expound on morality. Tom Pinch, Pecksniff’s loyal assistant, enters and says that John Westlock, a departing student of Pecksniff’s, would like to say good-bye and hopefully make peace, as there had been some conflict between the two. Pecksniff chastises Pinch for this, but Westlock enters anyway. He asks for forgiveness and to shake hands. Pecksniff says that of course he forgives Westlock but will not shake his hand. Irate, Westlock leaves. He and Pinch have been good friends, but they disagree about the worthiness of Pecksniff. Westlock views him as a moral hypocrite, concerned only with himself and his interests, while Pinch believes in his inner goodness. Westlock leaves for London.
A carriage pulls up to the Blue Dragon Inn in the same village. Out comes Martin Chuzzlewit, who is ill, followed by a young woman, Mary Graham. Mrs. Lupin, the landlady of the Blue Dragon, assists the elder Mr. Chuzzlewit to a room, where Mary helps him into his bed. She gives him some medicine from the chest that she carries for just such an emergency. He asks for paper and begins to write, but he burns the paper afterward. Mrs. Lupin questions Mary and discovers that Mr. Chuzzlewit is not her grandfather, father, or even husband. She is shocked. She sends for the apothecary, but he is unavailable, and so requests Mr. Pecksniff to come, as he is a significant person (and a moral man) in the village. Pecksniff comes...
(The entire section is 566 words.)
Chapters 4-5 Summary
Mr. Pecksniff stays away from Martin Chuzzlewit for three days, but then he checks on him frequently, looking in at the keyhole. At one such time, he is surprised to be dragged outside by a person dressed strangely in a “genteel-shabby” fashion. The man's name is Montague Tigg, and he is functioning as a representative for Chevy Slyme, who is married to Martin Chuzzlewit’s niece. He informs Mr. Pecksniff that several members of the Chuzzlewit family will be arriving, or even now have arrived, in the village, having ascertained Martin’s whereabouts.
The Chuzzlewit relatives assemble at the Pecksniff home. Among them are Mr. Chuzzlewit’s niece, Mrs. Spottletoe, and her husband as well as Anthony Chuzzlewit and his son, Jonas. They all are concerned about the presence of Mary Graham, who is no relation to the family but has the most immediate contact with Mr. Chuzzlewit. Pecksniff is most concerned that the old man be interested in the welfare of Chuzzlewit's grandson, also named Martin. The various Chuzzlewit family members cannot agree on a course of action, especially one proposed by Pecksniff, whom they presume is claiming to be the head of the Chuzzlewit family, and one by one, they depart with the news that the elder Martin Chuzzlewit and Mary Graham have left the Blue Dragon.
Tom Pinch takes the horse and carriage to Salisbury to pick up Mr. Pecksniff’s new architecture student. He is greeted amiably by all whom he passes. At Salisbury, Pinch looks at all the shops, buys a knife that turns out to be dull, and regrets not being able to afford a watch with a repeater. Going to the inn, he meets the young Martin Chuzzlewit, who is Mr. Pecksniff’s new student. The pair hit it off immediately, both having similar personalities. On the road back, Pinch tells Martin of his love of playing the organ in the local church. One time, a lovely woman came in to listen, and Pinch was instantly captivated by her. Back at the Pecksniff home, Mr. Pecksniff and the girls express surprise at Martin’s arriving so early. Mr. Pecksniff shows him the house and his room, which he will share with Pinch. Despite being caught unawares, Pecksniff seems to have already arranged for a sumptuous banquet. Charity and Mercy are quite taken with young Martin. Martin and Pinch retire to their room, accompanied by Pecksniff, who warns Martin of Pinch’s occasional forgetfulness concerning his station. The family goes to sleep, each having...
(The entire section is 422 words.)
Chapters 6-8 Summary
The next morning, Mr. Pecksniff receives a letter summoning him to London on business. At breakfast, he explains to Martin that he had promised his daughters to take them the next time he went to the city. They will be gone for a week, so he suggests that Martin practice his architecture by drawing plans for a grammar school. (Pecksniff is in the habit of taking his students’ drawings, adding insignificant details to them, claiming them as his own, and selling them.) After the Pecksniffs leave, Tom Pinch notices that Martin is depressed. Martin explains that Pecksniff informed him that his grandfather had been in the village recently. Martin’s parents died when he was young and so does not miss them, but Tom commiserates with him anyway, having lost his own parents early. Martin was raised by his grandfather but has since been disinherited. Martin fell in love with a young woman who is dissatisfactory in Mr. Chuzzlewit’s eyes. In fact, Martin tells Tom, she is the girl with the pretty face that Tom had seen in the church as he was playing the organ. Tom takes this news silently, but he is secretly heartbroken. He tries to cheer Martin up as much as he can, consenting to read Martin to sleep at his request.
Martin begins work on the drawings for the grammar school when he and Tom are interrupted by Montague Tigg, who announces that he is the agent for Chevy Slyme, a relative of Chuzzlewit’s. He says that he and Chevy are in need of funds to pay their tavern bill at the Blue Dragon. Martin takes Tom aside and tells him that Chevy is a disreputable cousin of his, and they should pay the bill to get rid of him. Neither he nor Tom has the three pounds necessary, so Tom suggests that they approach Mrs. Lupin and promise her that the bill will be taken care of. Mark Tapley, who has “escorted” Tigg to Pecksniff’s, says he believes this will be acceptable. Tom and Martin speak to Mrs. Lupin, who is agreeable to anything as long as the two leave. They are introduced to Chevy, who is horrified at the thought that a person of such excellence as he must submit to having his tavern bill paid by strangers. On the way out, Tom talks to Mark, who announces that he is leaving for London the next day. Mark says good-bye to Mrs. Lupin, whom he asks what would happen if they were to be married. Mrs. Lupin brushes him off, and the next day, Mark departs.
On the coach to London, Mr. Pecksniff and his daughters are joined by their...
(The entire section is 493 words.)
Chapters 9-10 Summary
On the second day of their stay in London, Mr. Pecksniff and his daughters are to deliver Tom Pinch’s letter to his sister, Ruth, who is a governess for the children of an important copper manufacturer. They are accompanied by Mrs. Todgers and find that Ruth Pinch is not as unattractive as they had assumed she would be. She is quite pretty and has the same grateful and pleasant personality as her brother. Ruth's pupil takes note of what the governess does to report later. The footman arrives to ask what the pupil is learning, which is a sign for the Pecksniffs to leave. As they depart, Pecksniff points out the architectural features of the house until the owner tells him to get off the grass and leave. Mr. Pecksniff assumes his usual hypocritically pleasant manner, while the girls are deeply offended and embarrassed.
The senior lodger, Mr. Jinkins, has invited Mercy and Charity to dine with the gentleman lodgers the following day. Bailey, the young servant boy, teases the girls and Mrs. Todgers unmercifully. Mrs. Todgers goes out of her way to prepare a massive feast. The gentlemen fall over themselves to serve the two young ladies, with Jinkins taking the lead, much to the ire of the youngest boarder. With much drinking, the party soon becomes tipsy, but none more than Mr. Pecksniff. After dinner, he becomes maudlin, telling Mrs. Todgers how much she reminds him of his late wife. Soon, Pecksniff falls over into the fireplace, from which he is quickly rescued. The boarders put him to bed, but he keeps coming out onto the landing to spout his moralizings. Finally, he is locked into his room with Bailey standing guard at the door.
Mr. Pecksniff goes each morning to the post office to see if there is a letter for him, but for several days, there is none. At last, he receives a notice from Mr. Chuzzlewit, arranging a meeting at Mrs. Todgers’ boarding house. As Mr. Chuzzlewit arrives, Mr. Pecksniff pretends that he is much calmer to receive him than he is. Mr. Chuzzlewit wants to meet Pecksniff's daughters, who are listening at the door. They come in and begin to follow their father’s example of fawning upon the old man. Mr. Chuzzlewit tells Pecksniff that he knows that his grandson is now living in the Pecksniff house. He informs Pecksniff that Martin already has matrimonial intentions, which shocks Pecksniff. Chuzzlewit tells Pecksniff to throw Martin out of his house, which Pecksniff agrees to do. Chuzzlewit plans to...
(The entire section is 514 words.)
Chapters 11-12 Summary
Bailey announces to the Pecksniff daughters that a gentleman has come to see Charity. He had told the visitor to go on up as a joke, so he had become lost. Charity finally finds him in the parlor, and it is Jonas Chuzzlewit, the son of Anthony. Charity is disappointed and speaks bluntly to him. Jonas constantly asks questions about “the other one,” meaning Mercy, until Charity offers to go fetch her. Jonas invites his two cousins to go for a walk and to dine with him and his father afterward. Mercy is reluctantly dragged along, even though Jonas is obviously more interested in Charity. After visiting all the free sights in London, the trio arrives at the Chuzzlewit home. Anthony is waiting for them, and Jonas refers to him disrespectfully as a “ghost,” having told Charity that he is eighty and should have died a long time ago. They are joined by Anthony’s clerk, Chuffey. Jonas explains that although he appears to be blind and deaf, the clerk twenty years previously had had a high fever during which he counted up to a million and has never been the same since. Now he answers only to Anthony. Charity and Mercy are blatantly bored with this event and make no pretense of hiding their dislike for Jonas.
Back at Mrs. Todgers’ boarding house, Bailey comes to bid them good-bye and tell them that he is leaving, tired of being physically and verbally abused. The lodgers come in the middle of the night and serenade the ladies. In the morning, they bid each other good-bye as the coach takes the three Pecksniffs back home.
Tom Pinch and young Martin Chuzzlewit continue enjoying each other’s company. Martin promises (a bit condescendingly) to make Tom’s fortune one day. Tom receives a letter from John Westlock, who announces that he has at last come into his inheritance and would like to meet Tom and Martin in the finest restaurant in Salisbury for dinner. Martin agrees, though he expects little from the former student of Pecksniff. John and Tom are delighted to see each other again, and Martin is unexpectedly taken with John. As Tom steps out to talk to the organist’s assistant, Martin and John laugh at Tom’s devotion to Pecksniff, whom John presents to Martin as a scoundrel. When Tom returns, John makes a remark about Pecksniff and upsets Tom. After peace has returned, they continue to enjoy their visit. Mark gives money to Tom, saying it is from Montague Tigg in repayment for the loan. The next day, Martin and Tom...
(The entire section is 498 words.)
Chapters 13-15 Summary
Martin Chuzzlewit walks in the rain, having no clear direction. He looks at the book that Tom gave him and, seeing that it is a French novel, almost throws it away. He opens it, however, to find the money that John Westlock had given to Tom. Martin silently blesses Tom and finds his way to an inn. There he finds a ride to London for the price of a silk handkerchief that the teamster fancies. He finds very cheap lodgings and goes to pawn his watch. At the pawnshop, he encounters Montague Tigg, who informs him that he has left Chevy Slyme. Martin sees that this is good reason to avoid any future contact with Tigg.
Over the next five weeks, Martin tries to find a way to get on a ship to America, but has no success. He pawns all his extra clothes and is in a most desperate state when he receives twenty pounds from an unknown source. He goes out to buy himself a modest feast. He is interrupted in his meal by a knock on his door. It is Mark Tapley, who has been following him, seeing that he is in increasingly desperate straits. He offers his services to Martin as his manservant, but Martin tells Mark that he is on his way to America. Mark feels that America is just the place for him to test his jolly nature. After some discussion, and Mark’s assurance that he will pay his own way, the two become traveling companions. Martin is also overjoyed to learn that Mary Graham is in London and that Mark will arrange a meeting with her.
Mark makes the arrangements for Martin and Mary to meet in the park. While they have a few moments together, Mark keeps watch. Martin tells Mary of his plans to go to America. He says he will write to her through Tom Pinch and Mrs. Lupin. They say good-bye, and Mark walks Mary back to the inn. When he returns, he gives Martin a diamond ring from Mary. Martin assumes that his grandfather gave it to her, but Mark knows that she bought it herself so that Martin may have some means of using it for money should he need to.
Mark and Martin have a rough crossing aboard the ship bound for America. Martin refuses to leave his small cabin for shame at having to sail steerage. Mark makes himself useful to the other passengers, especially to a woman with three children, bound to join her husband somewhere in America where he immigrated two years previously. With gratitude for being back on land, Mark and Martin land in New York City.
(The entire section is 446 words.)
Chapters 16-17 Summary
Martin and Mark are surrounded by newsboys selling newspapers as soon as they disembark in New York. Martin is quickly picked up by Colonel Diver, who is the editor of the New York Rowdy Journal. He escorts the two Englishman down Broadway to his office. There Martin meets Jefferson Brick, who is the war correspondent for the Rowdy Journal. Each person Martin meets in New York is introduced as one of the most remarkable men in the country. Jefferson joins Diver and Martin as they go to the boarding house where the journalists live, suggesting that Martin and Mark might also find accommodations there. When the door is answered by the Irish maid, Martin makes the mistake of referring to her employer as her “master.” Colonel Diver points out that in America, no one uses that term, as all are free. Martin suggests that the term owner might be more appropriate.
Martin is overwhelmed by the crude conditions of what is supposedly an established boarding house. The most prominent features in the dining room are the two spittoons. When the bell clangs for dinner, Martin thinks there is a fire as he hears people rushing down the hall. When he reaches the dining room, he finds his host, Major Pawkins, has finished half of his dinner. In fact, all the boarders shovel in their food with very little conversation. Afterward, Martin meets a kind gentleman, Dr. Bevan, who accompanies him back to the office of the Rowdy Journal, where Mark is still waiting for him. They find Mark sitting in the company of a gray-haired black man, who was formerly a slave. His master allowed him to buy his freedom, now that he was too old to work. He is now trying to earn enough money to buy his doctor. Mark makes sarcastic remarks about the Land of Liberty being the home of the slave, but Dr. Bevan warns him that this kind of talk, even in a free state like New York, is not too well tolerated from foreigners.
Dr. Bevan takes them to the home of some relatives, the Norrises, who are abolitionists. When Martin expresses delight at finding someone in America who abhors the treatment of the slaves, they correct him in stating that while they do not approve of slavery, neither do they approve of mixing the races. They also seem to be fascinated by the British aristocracy, despite their conviction that the American republic is far superior. A General Fladdock arrives, who had also been on the same ship as Martin and Mark....
(The entire section is 510 words.)
Chapters 18-20 Summary
Anthony and Jonas Chuzzlewit, along with Chuffey, sit before the fire. Anthony speaks of the short amount of time that he has left, but Chuffey assures him that he is still a boy. Jonas mutters under his breath that it is high time for his father to die and leave the business in his son’s hands. He creeps to the files and pulls out his father’s will, making sure that the bulk of the estate is left to him, with a thirty-pound annuity for Chuffey. He is startled to find Pecksniff looking at him. Later, when they are alone, Anthony tells Pecksniff that Jonas wants to marry one of Pecksniff’s daughters. He warns Pecksniff to arrange it soon before Jonas loses interest. Jonas returns, and Anthony falls asleep. Soon, he makes strange noises like the ticking of a clock and then passes out on the floor. He is carried to bed and a doctor is sent for. Jonas tells Pecksniff that he is glad he was there so it could not be said that Jonas killed his father. They are startled to see Anthony enter the room, held up by Chuffey. The dying man tries to speak, but says nothing. He soon dies, and Jonas begs Pecksniff to stay so that he will have a witness that Anthony died of natural causes.
Mr. Pecksniff arranges the funeral with the undertaker, who advises him to get Mrs. Gamp to prepare the body for burial. He finds Mrs. Gamp finally, who also serves as a midwife. She drinks profusely but is still reliable. As she prepares Anthony’s body, she comes back downstairs to tell Mr. Mould, the undertaker, and Pecksniff that she will not tolerate spies. They are at first confused, but soon Pecksniff realizes that she is speaking of Chuffey, who has not left Anthony’s side. On the day of the funeral, all are impressed that Jonas has spared no expense. The service is marred by Chuffey’s excessive grief, as he is the only one who truly mourns.
Jonas returns home with Pecksniff, and on the way, he asks the older man what he would give as a dower for his daughters. Pecksniff answers that since Charity is so dear to him, he would give four thousand. At home, Pecksniff sneaks up on the house and startles Charity, whom he bids to bring Mercy down. He leaves the two girls alone with Jonas, thinking that Jonas would like to talk of marriage with Charity. Mercy thinks so as well and tries to leave, but Jonas restrains her. Jonas asks Mercy, not Charity, to marry him. Charity runs off to her room, and Mercy tells Jonas that she cannot stand the...
(The entire section is 499 words.)
Chapters 21-23 Summary
Martin and Mark are on a train bound west when they are interrupted by Mr. Lafayette Kettle, who listens in on their conversation. General Choke also joins them and begins to speak against tyranny in England, although he insists, despite Martin’s attempts to correct him, that Queen Victoria lives in the Tower of London. He represents a group called the Watertoast Association of United Sympathisers, which is an anti-British group. Martin has been given a letter of introduction to General Choke by Dr. Bevan. General Choke tells them that he is involved in the town of Eden's development. This bothers Martin because Bevan had told him that Choke would be a disinterested advisor. At their destination, General Choke escorts Martin and Mark to Mr. Scadder, who shows them the plans for the city of Eden. Martin is shocked to see a whole city planned out and wonders that there is anything for an architect to do. He is reassured that not all the buildings have been constructed. Martin and Mark pool their resources and decide to throw in thirty pounds to buy some property in Eden. Martin declares that their new company shall be called “Chuzzlewit and Tapley,” but Mark insists that it should be “Chuzzlewit and Co.,” because he has always wanted to be a “Co.” At the National Hotel, Mark and Martin join a meeting of the Watertoast Association, in which the members declare their support of an Irish candidate who is for Irish independence. However, when news arrives that the Irishman is against slavery, they promptly dissolve the association and devote their remaining resources to proslavery individuals.
Captain Kedgwick, the proprietor of the National Hotel, announces to Martin that he must hold a levee to be introduced to the general public. Martin is astounded, but concedes since it seems he has no choice. The levee is a flow of people eager to meet the Englishman. Mrs. Hominy, who writes for the improvement of public morality, attaches herself to Martin for two days. Mark loads their luggage onto the steamboat that will take them to Eden. He asks Kedgwick why they hold these levees for someone such as Martin. Kedgwick explains that the people like excitement, especially anyone going to Eden, because no one comes back alive from that place.
Martin and Mark journey down the river toward the Valley of Eden. Mrs. Hominy accompanies them, but another group of gentlemen along the lines of Dr. Bevan keeps her away from Martin....
(The entire section is 541 words.)
Chapters 24-26 Summary
The elder Martin Chuzzlewit and Mary Graham arrive at the Pecksniff house. Pecksniff, confused and frustrated, hides Jonas in one room, puts on his gardening gear, and opens the door, apologizing to Mr. Chuzzlewit for the delay. He tells Mr. Chuzzlewit that his nephew Jonas is in the house. After bidding Tom Pinch to fetch Mercy and Charity, Pecksniff retrieves Jonas. The nephew and uncle coldly shake hands. Pecksniff assures Mr. Chuzzlewit that Jonas has been a model son in the manner of his grief over his father’s death. Mr. Chuzzlewit has Tom escort him and Mary back to the Blue Dragon Inn. He ascertains that as much as he had been favorably impressed by Tom, he is in fact too subservient to Pecksniff after all. On the way back, Tom encounters Jonas blocking his way. Jonas is insulting, and Tom knocks him down, cutting his temple. He escorts Jonas back to the house, where Jonas explains that he walked into a tree. Charity confronts Tom, asking him if he had hit Jonas. When Tom reluctantly admits this, Charity swears that she is Tom’s friend for life.
Mr. Chuzzlewit asks Mercy whether she loves Jonas. Mercy, sensing that the old man does not like his nephew, says that she hates him and plans to marry him simply to make his life miserable. Mr. Chuzzlewit warns her that she will have to spend the rest of her life with a man she despises. When Jonas presses her for a date for the wedding, preferably the next week, Mercy puts him off. As Mercy walks off, Jonas swears to himself that he will make her pay after they are married.
While Jonas is gone, Mrs. Gamp watches over Chuffey. She has also been hired as the night nurse for a friend of John Westlock who has been subdued by a fever, requiring constant attention. John explains to Mr. Mould and Mrs. Gamp that he had received a letter from the man, who is his old school friend, but did not know for what purpose. Mrs. Gamp sits up with Chuffey, listening to him mutter in his delirium. He cries out, “Chuzzlewit! Jonas! No!” This name she recognizes, but does not mention it to the doctor the next day.
Poll Sweedlepipe, Mrs. Gamp’s landlord, runs into Bailey, who has long left Todgers’ boarding house and is now dressed in livery. Poll tells Bailey that he is fetching Mrs. Gamp home, having come to the end of her service with Mr. Chuffey now that Jonas is married. Bailey assumes that Jonas has married Charity and so is surprised to find that...
(The entire section is 504 words.)
Chapters 27-29 Summary
Bailey has come into the employment of Montague Tigg, now known as Tigg Montague. Tigg, along with the pawnbroker David Crimple, has formed the Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Assurance Company. Tigg and David argue as to who first came up with the idea of the Anglo-Bengalee. The medical officer of the company is Mr. Jobling, who had been the physician of both the late Anthony Chuzzlewit and the patient for whom Mrs. Gamp had served as the night nurse. Jonas Chuzzlewit is introduced into the meeting of the board. He explains contemptuously that he has come for information only, with no commitment to join the company. He is thinking of insuring the life of his wife, although she is young. He does not want Mercy to have any knowledge of this exchange, stating that women, once they start thinking about death, most likely die soon. Jonas suddenly recognizes Tigg Montague as Montague Tigg and comments on the remarkable change from the scruffy-looking con man to the present respectable businessman. Tigg invites Jonas to join the company, since it is easier to take in insurance premiums (their main business) than to pay them out (which they avoid). Jonas promises to consider it. After Jonas leaves, Tigg calls in Mr. Nadgett and instructs him to find out as much as he can about Jonas Chuzzlewit.
The next day, Tigg and company throw a feast for Jonas, who becomes very drunk and agrees to join the company. Tigg has Bailey take Jonas back home. Bailey is shocked when he sees Mercy and the change that has come over her since he last saw her. Jonas becomes verbally abusive to Mercy as Bailey leaves. The boy stops at the bottom of the stairs and listens to Mercy trying to calm Jonas down. Soon he hears Jonas physically abusing his wife. The next morning, Bailey goes to talk to his friend, Poll, along with Mrs. Gamp. Although he is asked about Mercy, he does not want to tell them about what he had seen and heard. Mrs. Gamp prepares to take her patient, Mr. Lewsome, out to the country at John Westlock’s instruction. When John arrives, Lewsome says that he has something very important to tell him, but he should perhaps wait until later, since he has waited this long. Lewsome and Mrs. Gamp finally get loaded into the coach and head off to the country. As they leave, Tigg’s spy Nadgett watches them ride off.
(The entire section is 414 words.)
Chapters 30-32 Summary
Tension has continued to grow between Mr. Pecksniff and his daughter Charity. He begs her to return to his fatherly embrace, but she hints that she knows where his true affection lies. He thinks she speaks out of jealousy over Mercy’s marriage to Jonas. She demands that he provide her an allowance so that she may live on her own, such as in London with Mrs. Todgers. Pecksniff agrees, seeing this as an excellent way to get rid of such unpleasantness.
Pecksniff runs across Mr. Chuzzlewit out on a walk. He has thought of a way to manage to get the Chuzzlewit money. He invites Mr. Chuzzlewit to live with him, since Charity is leaving. He also has designs on Mary, so he suggests that an inn is no place for a young lady. Mr. Chuzzlewit agrees. Pecksniff overtakes Mary walking through the woods. He forces his affections on her, but she tells him that his touch is odious to her. He will not let go until she threatens to tell Mr. Chuzzlewit. Pecksniff makes threats of his own, telling her that if she mentions any of this, he will take it out on Martin Junior. Charity packs up and leaves for London the next day.
As Tom Pinch plays the organ, Mr. Pecksniff sneaks in to listen. He falls asleep and awakens when he hears Tom speaking to Mary Graham. Tom is telling her that he has not had a letter from Martin for a long while. He fears that he offended Mary in some way since she has not talked to him about Martin’s trip to America. Mary explains that she did not want to get Tom in trouble with Mr. Pecksniff. Tom assures her, as always, that Pecksniff is the best of men. At this, Mary breaks down in tears and tells Tom how Pecksniff had just now tried to force himself on her. This finally convinces Tom that not only has Pecksniff ceased to be what Tom had thought him to be but he never was. Pecksniff leaves, resolving how to protect himself from Tom’s knowledge of the incident with Mary. He calls Tom in, in the presence of Mr. Chuzzlewit, and tells him that he is fired for trying to force his love on Mary. Mr. Pecksniff dares Tom to deny it, but Tom, knowing that to deny it would cause harm to Martin, does not. Tom leaves, with the whole community turning out to say good-bye.
Charity settles into Mrs. Todgers’ boarding house once more. The landlady tells her about Mr. Moddle, the youngest boarder, who had been almost suicidal at Mercy’s marriage. Since then, he has shunned men’s company and devoted himself to Mrs....
(The entire section is 515 words.)
Chapters 33-35 Summary
The day after their arrival at Eden, Martin falls ill with a fever. Desperate, Mark goes to a neighbor for help and discovers his fellow passengers, the woman and her three children, along with her husband. They are overjoyed to be reunited, but Mark sees that their little girl is on the brink of death. The husband goes with Mark to examine Martin and declares that he has fever and ague (malaria). He himself has had it for a long time, but it is not serious in his case. That night, the little girl dies, and Mark helps his friends bury her under a tree. Martin is ill for many weeks, and Mark watches over him by night and works on the land by day. A neighbor, Hannibal Chollop, comes to visit. Spitting tobacco on the floor, Chollop expounds the virtues of America, with which Mark disagrees. Martin eventually recovers, but before reaching full health, Mark falls ill. As Martin works and watches, he comes to realize his lifelong selfishness. His experience in Eden has cured him of this, however, and when Mark finally recovers, he proposes that they write to Mr. Bevan for assistance and return to England. It is many weeks before they receive money from their American friend, and Mark and Martin leave Eden with no regrets.
On the boat back up the river, they meet Elijah Pogram, a congressman, who expounds on the greatness of the American system. When they arrive back at the National Hotel, Captain Kedgick tells them that the people will be upset to see them, having attended the levee expecting the Englishmen to settle—and most likely die—in Eden. Mr. Pogram speaks to the people at the hotel, exciting much interest among the American people. When Martin and Mark return to New York, Mr. Bevan apologizes for getting them into this venture. He offers them money to return to England, but Mark takes a job aboard the ship as a cook, which allows them to pay back their loan to Mr. Bevan.
Martin and Mark return to England a year after they had left. As they are sitting in a tavern, they are surprised to see Mr. Pecksniff pass by. They follow him and learn that he is placing the cornerstone of a public building. There is a great crowd around the site, cheering Mr. Pecksniff for his great work done for the community. Martin looks at the plans and is enraged to see that it is the grammar school that he had designed, on which Pecksniff had drawn four windows to claim it as his own work.
(The entire section is 437 words.)
Chapters 36-38 Summary
Tom Pinch arrives in Salisbury and decides that he will go on to London. The next available coach does not leave until the next night, so Mrs. Lupin brings his trunk to him, along with a basket full of food for the journey. The coach driver is interested both in Mrs. Lupin and in the basket, so Tom shares the food with him. In London, Tom goes to see John Westlock, who is overjoyed to see him. Afterward, Tom goes to the home where his sister, Ruth, is governess. He is offended by the rude treatment of the footman. He greets Ruth warmly but is surprised to see that she has been crying. He ascertains that she has been ill treated, which he can quickly guess from the footman. Ruth's employer, his wife, and his daughter (Ruth’s pupil) arrive to tell Tom that they are dissatisfied with Ruth because she cannot command respect from her pupils. Tom argues back that the man and wife themselves show nothing but disrespect for the governess, so their daughter’s behavior is learned from them and is not to be blamed on Ruth. He takes Ruth away, although he has no place to live at the moment. They decide that they will go to nearby Islington, which will be close to London but is a place where they can live cheaply.
Returning to London from Islington, Tom becomes lost. He is surprised when he meets Charity Pecksniff, who is glad to hear that he left her father’s service. She guides him to Mrs. Todgers’ boarding house, where Mercy is visiting. Tom notices that she has changed much. She tearfully begs him to tell Mr. Chuzzlewit, should he ever see him again, that she often remembers his advice to her before her marriage and regrets that she did not heed him. Mrs. Todgers privately tells him that Mercy does not talk about her troubles, but both she and Tom know that Jonas is treating her badly. Charity has Augustus Moddle, her “intended,” escort Tom back to Furnival’s Inn, where John Westlock is living. John offers him money, but Tom tells him that he has five pounds that Mrs. Lupin had given him in a letter on his leaving Salisbury.
Mr. Nadgett has been spying on Jonas Chuzzlewit. When he reports to Tigg, the latter is filled with glee at the findings. Jonas conveniently arrives at that point, stating that he is not satisfied with how his investments in the Anglo-Bengalee are turning out. Tigg replies that he has just decided to ask Jonas to invest more money. When Jonas laughs at this suggestion, Tigg whispers information...
(The entire section is 472 words.)
Chapters 39-41 Summary
Tom and Ruth Pinch settle into their life in Islington. Tom is trying to write a resume in preparation for searching for a position, and Ruth is trying to make a beefsteak pudding, her first attempt. They are surprised when John Westlock walks in. Tom introduces him to his sister, and John is immediately taken with Ruth, despite her flour-covered hands. To Ruth’s horror, Tom invites John to dinner that evening, which John accepts. He tells Tom that he has come for the specific purpose of conveying a job offer to Tom. A Mr. Fips had approached him that morning, asking if he knew a Thomas Pinch. John tells Tom that he is being offered a position as a secretary to an unknown person, at the salary of one hundred pounds a year. Tom is overjoyed and agrees to go with John to meet Mr. Fips. He is told that the particulars of his job include the cataloging of books in a library, but Fips does not say the name of the person to whom the library belongs. Tom is overjoyed at his good fortune, and he and John return home to find that Ruth’s beefsteak pudding is a success. John asks Tom several questions about Ruth, clearly indicating that he is interested in her.
Tom and Ruth walk along the wharf, watching the ships arrive and leave. They are interrupted by Mrs. Gamp, who asks them which ship is the one going to Antwerp. They point it out to her, as she watches a lady board, accompanied by a man in a long cloak. Tom’s landlord (who happens to be Mr. Nadgett) arrives and asks him to deliver a letter to the man in the long cloak. He does so and is surprised that it is Jonas Chuzzlewit with Mercy. Jonas reads the letter, grabs Mercy, and leaves the ship. He leaves in a separate carriage, and Mercy asks Tom why he has interrupted her journey. Tom tries to assure her that he knows nothing about it but was asked only to deliver the letter.
Jonas is escorted back to Tigg, who confronts him with his attempt to escape. He warns him that he must give him the money he promised or face the consequences. Mr. Jobling, the medical officer, hints at the consequences as he shows Jonas his lancets, which can cut a neck cleanly. Jonas prepares for a journey on which he will take young Bailey and Tigg to see Pecksniff.
(The entire section is 417 words.)
Chapters 42-44 Summary
It is a stormy night as Jonas, Tigg, and Bailey take the coach to Salisbury. Montague is unsure of the wisdom of such a journey, but Jonas is insistent. In the coach, Montague falls asleep, only to wake up and see Jonas holding a bottle over him. Though Montague thinks that Jonas is trying to hit him over the head, Jonas simply takes a drink out of it. Because of the storm, the coach overturns, throwing all out of the carriage, except for those who jumped to safety. Jonas unleashes the terrified horses and moves them toward Montague, who is lying in the road, in an effort to have their hooves crush his skull. The driver stops him in time, not perceiving his real intention. They see that Bailey is seriously injured. They manage to make it to Salisbury to get Bailey to a doctor. Montague spends a restless night filled with nightmares. The next morning, Jonas prepares to go to Pecksniff’s to talk him into investing money with the company.
On the night of the storm, Mrs. Lupin sits in the Blue Dragon, feeling lonely. A customer comes in and asks for a drink. He inquires about Mark Tapley, claiming to be a relation. Mrs. Lupin explains that Mark is in America and has not been heard from for months and is feared dead or imprisoned. The stranger reveals himself as Mark and bestows many kisses on Mrs. Lupin. Martin also comes in, and as Mrs. Lupin gives them supper, she tells them that Pecksniff has discharged Tom Pinch and now has Mr. Chuzzlewit living with him. The next morning, Mark goes to Pecksniff’s with a letter from Martin for his grandfather. Pecksniff takes it and tears it up. Mark goes back to the Blue Dragon and returns with Martin, who pushes his way into the parlor where his grandfather is sitting. He explains the trials he has undergone and pleads for peace between them. Mr. Chuzzlewit allows Pecksniff to speak for him. Pecksniff orders Martin out of his house once again. Mr. Chuzzlewit appears to be briefly overcome with emotion, but he allows Pecksniff to lead him away from Martin. Mary is overjoyed to see Martin, but tells him that Pecksniff seems to have control over Mr. Chuzzlewit. Martin swears his love to Mary, but decides there is nothing for him to do but return to London. On the way back to the Blue Dragon, Martin and Mark pass a gentleman who looks familiar to them.
Jonas arrives at Mr. Pecksniff’s and is irritated by his father-in-law’s inquiries about his daughters. He tells Pecksniff that he has...
(The entire section is 504 words.)
Chapters 45-47 Summary
Ruth Pinch usually waits for her brother after his day is done at work, but one afternoon, Tom is late. John Westlock happens to pass by and approaches Ruth. Tom arrives just then, and John invites them to dinner at his rooms. Tom accepts gladly and teases Ruth about her previous dinner that John had shared at their home. As they dine, Tom talks about what a perfect life John lives in his bachelor flat, though John tries to say how solitary an existence it is. Tom refutes this and dominates the conversation, with Ruth only occasionally drawn in. Tom tells John of his encounter at the wharf and his concern that Mercy will think that he is somehow involved in the matter, whatever it is. John urges Tom to talk to Mercy and set the record straight. At the end of the evening, John insists on walking them home, Ruth’s arm in his. Tom still keeps talking, but that night, it is Ruth whom John thinks longingly of.
On their way to talk to Mercy, Tom and Ruth encounter Charity and Mr. Moddle looking at furniture. Charity explains that they are on their way to Mercy’s as well, and so they accompany them. Mrs. Gamp is also there, and Mercy gives them all tea. Mr. Chuffey, still sitting by the fire, suddenly asks who is dead upstairs. Mercy, who has become less selfish since her unfortunate marriage, assures him that all is well. Jonas comes home unexpectedly and is not pleased to see the company. Charity tells him that they are leaving, and if he will send her a bill, she will be glad to pay for the tea. Mr. Moddle weakly moves to confront Jonas, but Charity drags him away. Tom tries to explain about the letter that he delivered to Jonas, but Jonas becomes belligerent, so Tom and Ruth also depart. Jonas turns on Mercy, accusing her of calling the others to plot against him. He tells her that he is going to sleep for two days in a room downstairs and not to disturb him. Mrs. Gamp tells him about Mr. Chuffey’s remarks about a dead person upstairs, which upsets Jonas. That night, Jonas dresses in dark clothing and sneaks out of the house.
Jonas knows that Tigg was to meet with Pecksniff the next day, so he waits in the woods by the side of the road. As Tigg passes by after leaving Pecksniff, Jonas clubs him to death with a fence post. He returns home and sneaks into the room where he was supposedly sleeping. He sleeps after his night of crime, and when he awakens, Mercy tells him that Mr. Nadgett had come to see him, but she had told...
(The entire section is 468 words.)
Chapters 48-50 Summary
Early one morning, Mark Tapley arrives at Tom Pinch’s home, accompanied by Martin. Tom is overjoyed to see his old friends back from America. As they catch up on each other’s news, Mark takes over the role as servant until Tom warns him that if he will not sit down, he will swear at him. Tom suggests to Martin that his friend John Westlock might have some advice for him, so the men travel to London. John welcomes them, but explains that he has another visitor, whose business has some connection with Martin. Tom and Mark leave, and Mark announces to Tom that he is planning on marrying Mrs. Lupin. Tom is overjoyed and chides Mark for not marrying her long before.
Martin is introduced by John to Mr. Lewsome, John’s friend who had been so recently ill. Lewsome explains that he was an assistant surgeon and had known Jonas Chuzzlewit, having played cards with him often. Jonas had complained to Lewsome about the selfishness of his father, Anthony, and his increasing decrepitude. In exchange for forgiveness for some gambling debts, Lewsome had given Jonas some slow-acting poison, knowing that Jonas planned to mix it with his father’s cough medicine. Lewsome writes out his confession of being implicit in the murder of Anthony Chuzzlewit. Martin and John decide they must verify this with Mr. Chuffey, still in the care of Mrs. Gamp, since he had known Anthony so well.
Mr. Sweedlepipe tells Mrs. Gamp that he has heard that Bailey is dead and that Montague Tigg (or Tigg Montague) is missing. Mrs. Gamp’s partner, Betsey Prig, comes to visit. They begin drinking and soon fall to arguing about Mrs. Gamp’s supposed friend, Mrs. Harris, who Mrs. Prig does not believe exists. The two women fall out and Mrs. Prig leaves. Martin and John arrive but see that Mrs. Gamp is too overcome with alcohol to be much good. They urge her to find another partner to help take care of Mr. Chuffey and resolve to return later to talk to her about Lewsome’s information.
Martin comes to see Tom and announces that he is breaking off their friendship. Tom is confused, not knowing what he has done to offend Martin, but Martin will not say what it is, though he hints that it has to do with Tom’s employer (whose identity Tom still does not know). Upset, Ruth tells Tom that she knows he is in love with Mary Graham. Tom confesses it but that he never entertained any hope that she would love him. The next day, Tom goes to work and discovers...
(The entire section is 482 words.)
Chapters 51-52 Summary
Jonas has decided to put Chuffey into an insane asylum, supposedly assisted by Mrs. Gamp, who takes him upstairs. Mercy has gone to see Mrs. Todgers. Jonas asks Mrs. Gamp where her assistant is, but Mrs. Gamp says that Mrs. Prig is not to be trusted and so has asked Mrs. Harris to help. When Jonas asks to see her, Mrs. Gamp is hesitant. She is about to leave when Mr. Chuzzlewit and John Westlock arrive. Mr. Chuzzlewit accuses Jonas of murder, and Mr. Lewsome arrives to present his evidence against Jonas. Mr. Chuffey interrupts, saying that Anthony was not poisoned. He had discovered Jonas’s plan and so had not taken the medicine in which Jonas had put the poison. He felt guilt over raising a son who wanted to kill his father. He still loved Jonas and meant to forgive him but died before he could. Before he died, Anthony begged Chuffey to spare Jonas, which Chuffey has unwillingly done. He is now concerned about Mercy, but Mr. Chuzzlewit tells him that he has taken her into his care. Mr. Nadgett arrives and accuses Jonas of the murder of Montague Tigg, whose body has been discovered. Mr. Nadgett has been spying on Jonas and saw him throw the clothes that he wore during the murder into the Thames. They were recovered, with blood on them. Nadgett calls the police, one of whom happens to be Chevy Slyme, a Chuzzlewit relative. As they wait for the police van, Jonas tells Chevy to take his wallet, containing one hundred pounds, out of his pocket in exchange for giving him five minutes alone in the next room. Chevy does so, but interrupts him after a few minutes and returns the money. Jonas is taken off in the police van, where he takes poison and kills himself before they reach their destination.
Mr. Chuzzlewit gathers all his relatives and acquaintances together. Mr. Pecksniff also arrives, and seeing the group together, he accuses them of being leeches and bloodsuckers at Mr. Chuzzlewit’s expense. When he reaches out to Mr. Chuzzlewit, the latter knocks him down with his walking stick. He reveals that he has long instituted a plan by which he could expose Pecksniff’s hypocrisy. He tells everyone that the main curse of the Chuzzlewit family has been love of self, of which he has been the most guilty and the source for everyone else. He takes his grandson, Martin, and Mary by the hands, telling them that he has long intended that they should be together but by his own manipulations. He tells Pinch that although he at first disliked and...
(The entire section is 525 words.)
Chapters 53-54 Summary
Ruth and John begin by talking about Martin and Mary’s marriage to come, but John can wait no longer. He professes his love to Ruth and asks her to marry him. Ruth agrees wholeheartedly but says that she cannot leave her brother Tom alone. John states that he cannot leave him either and proposes that they live out in the country, where he can pursue his architectural career with Tom as his assistant. The three of them will live together, which pleases Ruth. Tom returns with Mr. Chuzzlewit. Ruth had wanted to break the news to Tom while they were alone, but she cannot wait. He is overjoyed, and Mr. Chuzzlewit is not surprised. In fact, he had anticipated this and so had asked Tom to go with him to leave the couple alone. He reveals that he has bought two necklaces as gifts, one for Mary and one for Ruth. He says he feels that he is the father of two daughters and cannot do enough for them. A banquet is thrown in honor of Tom, who has done so much to bring everyone together without any concern for himself. He stands in stark contrast to the selfishness of everyone else. After the banquet, Ruth, John, and Tom walk home, and Tom pretends to go upstairs for a book but stays in his room. John soon comes looking for him, begging him not to feel that he has to separate himself.
The morning arrives of Charity’s wedding to Augustus Moddle. She has invited her family (except for her father—whom she will never forgive—and her sister) and has asked her three cousins to be her bridesmaids. She does so out of revenge, although she convinces herself it is out of family forgiveness. She sees Jonas’s death as a judgment on the family for their dissension. Mr. Chuzzlewit arrives to see Mercy, who is living with Mrs. Todgers, as is Chuffey. He asks her for her forgiveness for speaking so harshly to her before her marriage, but she says that he has been proved right. He invites her to come away with him now to avoid Charity’s wedding. She agrees, and they go off in a carriage before the guests arrive. As Charity comes down for the ceremony, it appears that Mr. Moddle is missing. The postman arrives with a letter from Mr. Moddle, stating that he has left the country, being in love with someone else who loves someone else. Charity faints at this news.
Tom grows old but still enjoys playing the organ. He is chosen by John and Mary’s daughter as her “nurse,” and continues to be the good, loyal, and selfless friend that he has...
(The entire section is 457 words.)