Pickwick Papers Summary
by Charles Dickens

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Pickwick Papers Summary

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Samuel Pickwick, Esq., is the founder and perpetual president of the justly famous Pickwick Club. To extend his own researches into the quaint and curious phenomena of life, he suggests that he and three other Pickwickians should make journeys to places remote from London and report on their findings to the stay-at-home members of the club. The first destination decided upon is Rochester. As Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Tracy Tupman, Mr. Nathaniel Winkle, and Mr. Augustus Snodgrass go to their coach, they are waylaid by a rough gang of cab drivers. Fortunately, the men are rescued by a stranger who is poorly dressed but of the friendliest nature. The stranger, who introduces himself as Alfred Jingle, also appears to be going to Rochester, and the party mounts the coach together.

After they arrive at their destination, Mr. Jingle arouses Mr. Tupman’s curiosity by telling him that there is to be a ball at the inn that evening and that many lovely young ladies will be present. Because, says Mr. Jingle, his luggage has gone astray, he has no evening clothes, and so it will be impossible for him to attend the affair. This is a regrettable circumstance because he had hoped to introduce Mr. Tupman to the many young ladies of wealth and fashion who will be present. Eager to meet these young ladies, Mr. Tupman borrows Mr. Winkle’s suit for the stranger. At the ball, Mr. Jingle, observing a middle-aged lady being assiduously attended by a doctor, goes up to her and starts dancing with her, much to the doctor’s anger. Introducing himself as Dr. Slammer, the angry gentleman challenges Mr. Jingle to a duel, but Mr. Jingle refuses to give his name.

The next morning, a servant identifies Mr. Winkle as the gentleman wearing the suit as described by the doctor and tells Mr. Winkle that Dr. Slammer is awaiting his appearance to fight a duel. Mr. Winkle had been drunk the night before, and he decides he is being called out because he had conducted himself in an unseemly manner that he can no longer remember. With Mr. Snodgrass as his second, a trembling Mr. Winkle approaches the battlefield. Much to his relief, Dr. Slammer roars that he is the wrong man. After much misunderstanding, the situation is satisfactorily explained, and no blood is shed.

During the afternoon, the travelers attend a parade, where they meet Mr. Wardle in a coach with his two daughters and his sister, Miss Rachael Wardle. Mr. Tupman is impressed by the elder Miss Wardle and accepts for his friends and himself Mr. Wardle’s invitation to visit his estate, Manor Farm. The next day, the four Pickwickians depart for the farm, which is a distance of about ten miles from the inn where they are staying. They encounter difficulties with their horses and arrive at Manor Farm in a disheveled state, but they are soon washed and mended under the kind assistance of Mr. Wardle’s daughters. In the evening, they play a hearty game of whist, and Mr. Tupman squeezes Miss Wardle’s hand under the table.

The next day, Mr. Wardle takes his guests rook hunting. Mr. Winkle, who will not admit himself unable to cope with any situation, is given the gun to try his skill. He proves it by accidentally shooting Mr. Tupman in the arm. Miss Wardle offers her aid to the stricken man. Observing that their friend is in good hands, the others travel to a neighboring town to watch the cricket matches. Here, Mr. Pickwick unexpectedly encounters Mr. Jingle, and Mr. Wardle invites him to return to Manor Farm with his party.

Convinced that Miss Wardle has a great deal of money, Mr. Jingle misrepresents Mr. Tupman’s intentions to Miss Wardle and persuades her to elope with him. Mr. Wardle and Mr. Pickwick pursue the couple to London. Here, with the help of Mr. Wardle’s lawyer, Mr. Perker, they go from one inn to another in an attempt to find the elopers. Finally, through a sharp-featured young man cleaning boots in the yard of the White Hart Inn, they are able to identify Mr. Jingle. They indignantly confront him...

(The entire section is 1,661 words.)