Part 1, Chapters 33-36 Summary
Mrs. Gowan unwillingly concedes to the marriage of Henry and Pet, especially after Mr. Meagles agrees to pay all of Henry’s debts. She consults with her friend, Mrs. Merdle, about the situation. Henry and Pet will be going to Italy for the sake of Henry’s art, which unsettles his mother, as it is not the fashionable sort of art. Mr. Merdle wanders about the house and accidentally enters the room where Mrs. Merdle is sitting. She tells him that he thinks too much of business and not enough of society. He is too concerned about his health, even though the physician can find nothing wrong with him. His indifference has been noticed even by Edmund Sparkler, Mrs. Merdle’s son. Mr. Merdle goes on wandering about the house.
Just before the wedding, Henry Gowan tells Arthur that he is a very disappointed man. He knows that he is marrying a beautiful woman who loves him, as well as that all his debts are being eliminated by his future father-in-law, but he still does not see the future brightly. Arthur struggles to remain neutral in his feelings about Henry, as he promised Doyce he would. At the wedding reception, the crowd is overwhelmingly filled with Barnacles, who do not associate with the Meagles side of the family. The only satisfaction that Mr. Meagles can derive from the wedding is that it was such high company, socially speaking.
Pancks tells Arthur that Mr. Dorrit is the long-lost heir to a landed fortune. Arthur is overjoyed at this news, that the Dorrits may at last leave the Marshalsea prison once the debts are paid. He goes to Flora’s home, where Amy is working, and breaks the news to her. She faints at the revelation but awakens to go with Arthur to tell her father. Mr. Dorrit is shaken and overwhelmed that at last he may leave. He asks if he can “talk a walk” at that moment, but Arthur regretfully tells him that there are still forms to be completed before he can leave. Mr. Dorrit weeps, because his freedom is still some hours away. Amy is also quiet, feeling that it is hard that her father has had to pay with years of his life as well as money to gain his freedom.
At last the day comes when Mr. Dorrit is to be set free. All the residents of the debtors prison gather to say good-bye to the Father of the Marshalsea. Mr. Dorrit walks arm-in-arm with his brother Frederick, but Fanny is upset that Amy is missing. She is even more upset when she sees her, being carried by Arthur, still wearing her old dress. At last, the Dorrits leave the Marshalsea forever.