Montreal Dickens Fellowship Study Questions: “Martin Chuzzlewit”
Westmount Public Library
January 9, 2018 1:00-3:00
Chapters 21 - 30
- Are you optimistic about Martin’s investment in Eden? Comment on Dickens’s use of foreshadowing.
- Dickens was mobbed on his visit to the U.S. and described this occurrence through Martin’s being mobbed. Many authors say that Martin is not the celebrity that Dickens was and this literary vehicle used to relate his own experience seems contrived. Discuss.
- Are you surprised that Eden is a pestilent, disease ridden, swamp? How does Mark Tapley’s behavior highlight Martin’s faults? Is young Martin’s transformation believable?
- What is Merry’s motive in marrying Jonas?
- By switching settings back and forth from Eden to Salisbury, Dickens moves the plot quickly along and heightens the suspense. Comment.
- Comment on Dickens’s creativity in creating Mrs. Harris, an imaginary character (in Mrs. Gamp’s mind) whose purpose is to validate and bring out Mrs. Gamp’s “better qualities”.
- Comment on Dickens’s use of names to portray the characters that bear them. E.g.: Mr. Mould, Mr. Pecksniff, Mr. Slyme, and the Chuzzlewit family…
- Discuss Mrs. Gamp’s misquotation from the scriptures. “Rich men may ride on camels, but it isn’t so easy to see out of a camel’s eye.” What, if anything, may this tell us about Dickens’s views on religion?
- Does the mystery surrounding the sick man and his relationship to Jonas, intrigue you and make you want to read more?
- Compare and contrast Jonas and Montague Tigg. They are both villains but how do they differ?
- Dickens is said to have created British fictions’ first private detective in Mr. Bucket from Bleak House (1853). Mr. Nadgett predates Mr. Bucket. Edgar Allen Poe created his detective C. Auguste Dupin in the “Murders in La Rue Morgue” in 1841. Comment on Dickens’s use of this emerging type of character in Martin Chuzzlewit (1843).
- Do you think there may be a connection between Poll Sweedlepipe and Sweeney Todd? Both are barbers next door to meat pie shops.
- There is a great deal of bird imagery in this novel. Look out for it and discuss.
- Comment on Mr. Pecksniff’s interest in Mary Graham. Does it surprise/disgust you?