Why does Mr. Bumble marry Mrs. Corney?

Mr. Bumble thinks that he will be comfortable in a marriage with Mrs. Corney. He believes that she has a much softer and more pliable character than is really the case, and that she has plenty of material possessions, which he is eager to add to his own moderate wealth.

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Chapter 23 of Oliver Twist consists of a conversation between Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Corney, which takes an increasingly sentimental turn. While it may be putting the matter too strongly to say that Mr. Bumble falls in love with the workhouse matron during this chapter, it is fair to say that he has a vision of a very agreeable future with her. Mrs. Corney does everything she can to encourage this vision, and to postpone as long as possible (in fact until after their marriage) the realization that she is as hard-hearted and cynical as Mr. Bumble himself.

Mr. Bumble believes that he will be physically and materially comfortable in a marriage with Mrs. Corney. He thinks that she will listen to him, agree with him, and bolster his sense of self-importance. He believes that she will cook for him, make tea for him, and generally look after his well-being. At the end of Chapter 23, he also surreptitiously examines her possessions to ascertain that she has some money, and that he will increase his wealth by marrying her. Taking all these matters into account, Mr. Bumble decides that it will be a sensible step from a purely selfish perspective to marry Mrs. Corney. His declaration of love, which comes in Chapter 27, makes his materialistic motives quite clear:

“Coals, candles, and house-rent free,” said Mr. Bumble. “Oh, Mrs. Corney, what an Angel you are!”

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