Chapters 1-4 Summary

Mr. Paul Dombey, a dignified but prideful gentleman, at last welcomes a son to be named Paul after himself. He has a daughter, six-year-old Florence, but she is not valued in a firm named Dombey and Son. Fanny, his wife, is attended by the family physician, Mr. Pilkins, as well as by the noted obstetrician, Doctor Peps.

The doctors warn Mr. Dombey that Mrs. Dombey is weakening and must put some effort into recovering. Mr. Dombey’s sister, Mrs. Louisa Chick, arrives to encourage her brother. She has brought her friend, Miss Tox, with her. As the doctors call Mr. Dombey out, Louisa asks Miss Tox her opinion of her brother and Miss Tox admits that she admires him greatly. They are interrupted when Mr. Dombey returns, looking pale. Fanny is weakening. The three go upstairs, where Florence is holding on to her mother. Louisa scolds Fanny, telling her that she must make some effort into getting better. With Florence in her arms, Fanny dies.

Miss Tox aids Louisa, who is in charge of finding a wet-nurse for baby Paul, by bringing the Toodle family to the Dombey residence. Polly Toodle has a six-week-old baby, along with four other children who will be cared for by her unmarried sister, Jemima. Mr. Dombey tells her that during her time with the Dombeys, she will have as little contact with her own family as possible and after her services are no longer needed will have no contact with the Dombeys. As the Toodles are poor, Polly agrees to this as well as to giving up her name to be called Richards instead. She tearfully says good-bye to her family. Louisa and Miss Tox are sure that the new Mrs. Richards is grateful to be connected to such a great family as the Dombeys.

After several weeks, Florence returns home from staying with her aunt. Mrs. Richards takes her to her heart and tells her a story of a good lady who died and went to heaven, where her daughter will be with her some day. Mrs. Richards suggests to Mr. Dombey that...

(The entire section is 516 words.)