Nicholas Nickleby "He Has Gone To The Demnition Bow-wows"

Charles Dickens

"He Has Gone To The Demnition Bow-wows"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Charles Dickens, masterful storyteller and observer of much that was bad in Victorian England, took as his task in Nicholas Nickleby the exposure of the deplorable conditions in many of the private schools in northern England. Using the fortunes and misfortunes of the Nickleby family as his vehicle for preachment, Dickens introduces Nicholas, his sister Kate, and his mother to a host of minor characters. One of these characters is a Mrs. Mantalini, keeper of a dressmaking establishment, who is foolishly in love with her rake of a husband. Mr. Mantalini, a humorous character, is all charm and elegance as he bleeds his wife of money for his escapades. Having poisoned himself for the seventh time, he finds himself cast off by his still weeping wife. He is last seen in a dismal room, kept by a harpy who has paid his prison fine and supported him only to have her heart broken also. Mantalini, whose favorite expressions include "dem," "demd," "demnably," "demmit," and "demnition," utters the same sweet phrases to his mistress that he uttered to his wife, but now he knows that he has reached the end of his rope. He says to his mistress:

"I will never break its heart, I will be a good boy, and never do so any more; I will never be naughty again; I beg its little pardon, . . . it is all up with its handsome friend! He has gone to the demnition bow-wows. It will have pity? It will not scratch and claw, but pet and comfort? Oh, demmit."