Montreal Dickens Fellowship Study Questions: “ The Pickwick Papers”
Westmount Public Library
May 7, 2013 2:30-4:30
- Do you think Sam would have been more help to Mr. Pickwick on the “outside”? What help might he have offered Mr. Winkle?
- Without directly criticizing the convoluted inheritance laws and the legal system in general with its criminally negligent and corrupt bureaucracy, Dickens uses his characters’ horrific experiences with the law to lambaste the gross injustice of this terrible system. Comment.
- Tony and Susan Weller’s visit to the prison is hilarious. Discuss how Dickens uses humor (with a satiric bite out of the hypocritical evangelicalism of Mr. Stiggins) to lift the reader out of the despair we feel at the tragic death of the “chancery man”. Discuss.
- Mr. Pickwick’s health and spirits become so affected by his imprisonment that he isolates himself in his room. Three months pass. Do you agree with his decision to remain in prison “on principle”?
- Comment on the coincidence of Mrs. Raddle being Mrs. Cluppins’ sister!
- We are on an emotional roller-coaster as we laugh over Mrs. Bardell’s tea and cry over Mr. Pickwick’s leave-taking at the prison. Might this “shaking up” have energized his Victorian readers to clamor for reform?
- There has not been an “inserted” story for some time. The plot has picked up pace and fluidity since the first chapters. Why do you think the bagman reappears at this point in the novel?
- There is a huge quantity of alcohol consumed in these chapters. It is associated with conviviality. Temperance is associated with hypocrisy. Did Dickens do this to endear himself to his public? He himself drank only in moderation, but his father may have had a drinking problem. Discuss.