Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*London

*London. Great Britain’s capital city is the headquarters of the Pickwick Club. Dickens’s acute sense of place enhances his descriptions of the great city, particularly the labyrinthine streets and lanes and inns—such as the White Hart Inn, where Sam Weller first appears and identifies the unscrupulous rogue Alfred Jingle. The various characters’ lodgings, such as Mr. Pickwick’s rooms at Mrs. Bardell’s, Mr. Weller, Sr.’s domicile in Dorking, and the rooms of Bob Sawyer, highlight class distinctions.

*Fleet Street Prison

*Fleet Street Prison. London institution in which Mr. Pickwick is incarcerated after losing a trumped-up breach of promise suit to Mrs. Bardell. The prison scenes contribute to the thematic concerns of spurious litigation and social abuses and highlight Dickens’s own remembered horror and shame over the period in his youth when his father was imprisoned for debt.

As Mr. Pickwick travels about and attempts to uphold the law and bring justice to all those who deserve it, he is manipulated into a legal situation from which his pride will not permit him to extract himself. It is only in the depths of the Fleet, where his kindness and sympathy know no bounds, that Mr. Pickwick is able to put aside his pride and set himself free in order to save Sam Weller and Mrs. Bardell, who have joined him there. The suggestion is clear: The welfare of others is easily considered when one’s own...

(The entire section is 606 words.)