Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens
Martin Chuzzlewit

I knew Martin Chuzzlewit wasn't one of my favourite books of Dickens, but it's been a long time since I'd read it and I'd hoped re-reading it would alter my view. And it is a great book really and I did end up enjoying it more than I remembered doing the first time I read it, and some of his quotes about the characters are extremely funny, but it’s not up there with my favourite books of his (currently running at five, as his books are just so wonderful it would be impossible to have just one favourite!), as I think the memorable characters and twists of my favourite books aren’t there in this book. But it's a much better read than I remembered and I'm glad I've re-read it, and will doubtless re-read it again.

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I knew Martin Chuzzlewit wasn’t one of my favourite books of Dickens, but it’s been a long time since I’d read it and I’d hoped re-reading it would alter my view. And it is a great book really and I did end up enjoying it more than I remembered doing the first time I read it, and some of his quotes about the characters are extremely funny, but it’s not up there with my favourite books of his (currently running at five, as his books are just so wonderful it would be impossible to have just one favourite!), as I think the memorable characters and twists of my favourite books aren’t there in this book. But it’s a much better read than I remembered and I’m glad I’ve re-read it, and will doubtless re-read it again.

I think the overall theme of the book is the contrast between selfishness and selflessness. Selfishness is demonstrated principally by Martin Jnr and Chuzzlewit Snr, though they both eventually acknowledge this fault in themselves and the damage it has done to their relationships with others, and admirably alter their ways. And selflessness is demonstrated principally by Tom Pinch, him being frequently taken advantage of at the start of the novel due to his selflessness, but then eventually being valued and loved by all who know him at the end of the novel, so selflessness having been proved to win the day, and Tom having the honour of being the final character featured at the very end of the book. Anthony and Jonas Chuzzlewit are both selfish in their greed and love of money but with no intention to alter their ways, and both are punished for this. Chuzzlewit Snr tests both Pecksniff and Mary Graham on their selfishness/selflessness, Pecksniff being proved selfish and Mary being proved selfless.  

I did have a couple of struggles with this book at times, my main gripe being the relentless bashing of the American people. A little bit of amusing criticism would have been fine, such as with his dry sarcasm of the Circumlocution Office in Our Mutual Friend, but this criticism just goes on and on and on, and doesn’t seem particularly amusing to read either as his dry sarcasm doesn’t really seem on form with this subject. I felt a bit shocked, and slightly uncomfortable to be honest, at his strength of feelings and criticisms of the American people too, who he says “avow themselves to be as senseless to the high principles on which America sprang…no more capable of feeling, or of caring if they did feel, that by reducing their own country to the ebb of honest men’s contempt, they put in hazard the rights of nations yet unborn and every progress of the human race… That Republic, but yesterday let loose upon her noble course, and but today so maimed and lame, so full of sores and ulcers, foul to the eye and almost hopeless to the sense, that her best friends turn from the loathsome creature with disgust…run riot in the bad and turn their backs upon the good”. Phew, very powerful and overpowering criticism! Admittedly, there is an addition from Dickens at the end of the book, written a few decades later, stating that America and his view of it has now altered. But I definitely preferred the passages and characters in London, than the ones in America, they were more full of dry humour and interest for me, and felt more like Dickens’ traditional writing that I love.

Another reason I struggled with the book was Martin Jnr himself, as for most of the book I just plain didn’t like him, which was a difficulty considering he was the main character. He is selfish and inconsiderate of others, if he was an out-and-out nasty character like Quilp in Curiosity Shop, then at least I’d be fascinated and shocked reading about him as he would be memorable, but I just struggled to be interested in him and what he was doing. And I’m afraid I found Mark Tapley annoying at times too, he’s lovely with his kindness and positivity, but sometimes the determined cheerfulness could seem a bit wearying and a bit contrived. 

I think I also struggled with the book because there was no real memorable sinister baddie as in his other books, such as Compeyson or Orlick in Great Expectations, Rigaud or Jeremiah in Little Dorrit, Quilp in Curiosity Shop, Bradley Headstone in Our Mutual Friend, even the menacing figure of Tulkinghorn in Bleak House. Mr Pecksniff wasn’t a baddie, he was just sneaky and manipulative, Jonas was obviously a baddie but it was only after about halfway through the book that he and his crimes really featured. Dickens’ baddies are so memorable and enjoyable to read with their plotting and menace and their final comeuppance, and I missed this in this book. As the book was moving along, I was beginning to get hopeful that Jonas and Pecksniff were going to get their comeuppance at the hands of Montague Tigg, who I began to quite like, even though he wasn’t challenging Jonas and Pecksniff in order to right wrongs and be a hero, as his morals were always quite shady. I was sad when Tigg was murdered, as he did seem a memorable and amusing character. I found it interesting with Jonas obsessively dreaming in great detail about murdering Tigg before he commited the crime, as it reminded me of Jasper in Edwin Drood dreaming in great detail in his opium haze about the murder of Edwin Drood (if, of course, Jasper was the murderer of Edwin…!). I’m puzzled though why Dickens wrote it that Jonas didn’t actually murder Anthony, that Anthony just pretended to take the poison hoping to shame Jonas into having a conscience and then died of a broken heart when this didn’t happen. Jonas himself believed he’d murdered Anthony, so why not just have it as Jonas was a double murderer and murdered Anthony as well as Tigg? Was it to increase the tension that Jonas could escape justice and get away with plotting Anthony’s death? But the arrest for Tigg’s murder happened so swiftly afterwards that there wasn’t really time for this tension to mount. Was it that it was potentially too heinous and disturbing to have a character murder his father, and Dickens chickened out of having it actually happen?

I also found it interesting with Chuzzlewit Snr pretending to Pecksniff that he didn’t see through him and letting himself appear to be taken in by Pecksniff, as this reminded me of Our Mutual Friend with Boffin and Silas Wegg. And when Chuzzlewit Snr finally turned on Pecksniff, even knocking him to the ground, I almost wanted to cheer! 

I was relieved that Mrs Gamp was threatened by Chuzzlewit Snr to improve her humanity and regard towards her patients otherwise he would report her. I know she was a humorous character in the book and she did have some fantastic lines, but I always had her borderline cruelty to her patients in my mind which spoiled my enjoyment of her passages in the book, so I’m glad she was corrected as I can now enjoy her humorous passages more. 

I was quite intrigued with Chevy Slyme becoming a police officer, quite how this choice came about, and also how Montague Tigg took this news with his less than honest lifestyle, and whether Chevy overlooked what Tigg was doing in remembrance of their past friendship or if he didn’t know as they had lost touch.

I did wonder quite where Eden was supposed to be in America, and if anyone lives there now. It really did sound a terrible place and beyond human survival, it is described as ‘rain, heat, foul slime, and noxious vapour, with all the ills and filthy things they breed, prevailed. The earth, the air, the vegetation, and the water that they drank, all teemed with deadly properties…drooping trees, the stagnant morning mist, and red sun…the vapour rising up from land and river, the quick stream making the loathsome banks it washed more flat and dull’. And I was overjoyed that the husband and wife from Eden appear in London at the end of the book! I can’t even let the hugely corny coincidence of them bumping into Mark in the huge metropolis of London spoil my relief and enjoyment of this. It did always rankle in my mind that Mark and Martin Jnr had left them in Eden when they themselves escaped, I struggled to understand how they could not try and rescue them too or make some arrangement for funds to be sent to them once they reached London themselves. What would perhaps have been better and made it less of an unbelievable coincidence, would be if Chuzzlewit Snr had sent money over to them for their escape, after Martin Jnr and Mark had told him about the family, so they had naturally come to that part of London to thank him, that would have worked better, I feel.

I do love all the tying up of loose ends that Dickens does at the end of his books, and there are so many happy endings in this one with Martin Jnr and Mary to be married, Ruth and John to be married, Mark and Mrs Lupin to be married, and Tom valued by all and made to feel the most important person there, after he was treated so dismissively by the Pecksniffs and their students for so long, he has the ultimate happy ending in that complete selflessness is rewarded. It’s all very happy and romantic by Dickens, he’s such an old romantic really! I still feel sad for Tom that he didn’t get together with Mary who he loved for so long, but it was very fitting that the book ended with Tom, now older, playing the organ with Mary’s child adoring him and Ruth coming to sit next to him on the organ seat. 

I have chuckled a great deal at the descriptions of the characters in this book, and the dry sarcastic humour shown in describing them and often their weaknesses and failings:

Mr Pecksniff is described as ‘if ever man combined within himself all the mild qualities of the lamb with a considerable touch of the dove, and not a dash of the crocodile, or the least possible suggestion of the very mildest seasoning of the serpent’, and ‘he started back in as much confusion as a good man with a crystal conscience might betray in mere surprise’ and ‘his exposed throat looked as if a halter would have done it good’ and ‘(not to suppose) that gentleman capable of performing a generous action…until he saw the sun turn green and the moon black and…12 first-rate comets careering round those planets’.

Tom Pinch is described as ‘smiling with an embarrassed frankness, particularly his, and which was as plainly a confession of his own imperfections, and an appeal to the kindness of the person he addressed, as if he had drawn one up in simple language and committed it to paper.’

Anthony Chuzzlewit is described as ‘the face of the old man so sharpened by the wariness and cunning of his life, that it seemed to cut him a passage through the crowded room’.

Jonas Chuzzlewit is described as ‘conscious that there was nothing in his person, conduct, character, or accomplishments to command respect, he was greedy of power’.

Chevy Slyme is described as someone ‘whose great abilities seemed one and all to point towards the sneaking quarter of the moral compass’.

Montague Tigg is described as smelling ‘like several damp umbrellas, a barrel of beer, a cask of warm brandy and water, and a small parlour-full of stale tobacco smoke, mixed’.

Three spinster Chuzzlewit daughters are described as ‘who had so mortified themselves with tight stays, that their tempers were reduced to something less than their waists, and sharp lacing was expressed in their very noses’.

George Chuzzlewit is described as ‘inclined to corpulency and rather over-fed himself, to that extent, indeed, that his eyes were strained in their sockets as if with constant surprise’.

Mrs Gamp is described as ‘it was difficult to enjoy her society without becoming conscious of a smell of spirits’ and ‘a peculiar fragrance was borne upon the breeze, as if a passing fairy had hiccoughed and had previously been to a wine-vaults’.

Poll Sweedlepipe is described as having ‘something of the bird in his nature’ – like a sparrow as he ‘inclines to human company (but) not quarrelsome, though, like the sparrow’, like a dove as he is ‘peaceful’, like a pigeon as he ‘strutted’ in his walk and with his ‘prosiness’ and ‘monotony’ of speech that sounds like the cooing of a pigeon, and like a raven as he is ‘very inquisitive’.

Mrs Todgers is described as ‘a little worn by cares of gravy and other such solicitudes arising out of her establishment’ and ‘in some odd nook in Mrs Todgers’ breast, up a great many steps and in a corner easy to be overlooked, there was a secret door with ‘woman’ written on the spring which…had flown wide open and admitted her (Mercy) for shelter’.

‘Such was the pleasant little family circle…agreeably prepared to fall foul of anybody else who might venture to say anything whatever upon any subject’ (Chuzzlewit family dispute).

‘It being quite impossible that any difference of opinion can take place among women without any who is within hearing taking active part in it’ (the Pecksniff daughters during the Chuzzlewit family dispute).

“The deaf cousin, who was not at all disqualified from joining in the dispute by reason of being perfectly unacquainted with its merits’ (Chuzzlewit family dispute).

“If those who hooked and crooked themselves into this family by getting on the blind side of some of its members before marriage, and manslaughtering them afterwards by crowing over them to that strong pitch that they were glad to die…” (one cousin to a sister-in-law of another cousin during Chuzzlewit family dispute).

‘For so long as the one party found a pleasure in patronising, and the other in being patronised, it was of all possible events among the least probable that the twin demons Envy and Pride would ever arise between them’. (Martin Jnr and Tom)

‘That heart where self has found no place and raised no throne, is slow to recognise its ugly presence when it looks upon it’. (Mary and Martin Jnr)

‘The blundering cheat, gull that he was for all his cunning, thought himself rolled up hedgehog fashion with his sharpest points towards them, he was in fact betraying all his vulnerable parts to their unwinking watchfulness’ (Jonas speaking to Tigg)

And some of his descriptions of nature and scenes are wonderful too:

‘And now the morning grew so fair, and all things were so wide awake and gay, that the sun seeming to say “I can’t stand it any longer, I must have a look” streamed out in radiant majesty’. 

‘But what were even gold and silver, precious stones and clockwork, to the bookshops…all those rows and rows of volumes, neatly ranged within, what happiness did they suggest! And in the window were the spick-and-span new works from London, with the title pages, and sometimes even the first page of the first chapter, laid wide open, tempting unwary men to begin to read the book and then in the impossibility of turning over, to rush blindly in and buy it!’ (this is Tom looking in a bookshop window)

‘Tom took the organ himself…as the grand tones resounded through the church, they seemed, to Tom, to find an echo in the depth of every ancient tomb, no less than in the deep mystery of his own heart. Great thoughts and hopes came crowding on his mind as the rich music rolled upon the air…the feelings that the sounds awakened, in the moment of their existence, seemed to include his whole life and being’.

‘The morning which was clad in the least engaging of the 365 dresses in the wardrobe of the year.’

‘Church towers humming with the faint vibration of their own tongues, but newly resting from the ghostly preachment “one!”.’ It took me a while to realise he just means here that the clock struck one, but what a beautifully involving way to say that!

I love Mrs Gamp’s explanation that although a woman can usually be fairly certain what day she will give birth, there are some events that can cause an unexpected change to this, such as ‘A Punch’s show, a chimbley sweep, a newfundlandog, or a drunkin man a-comin round the corner sharp, may do it’ – these seem so delightfully and surprisingly random!

‘And though home is a name, a word, it is a strong one, stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit answered to, in strongest conjuration’.

‘(The) apartment was not a spacious one but, to a contented mind, a closet is a palace’.

‘And with an air of surly triumph drew forth either the oldest of lettuces or the youngest of cabbages, but at any rate, a green vegetable of an expansive nature’.

‘For a quarrel can be taken up at any time, but a limited quantity of salmon cannot’.

There is just so much wonderful detail in Dickens’ books, that in order to remember everything that happens I find it easier to jot down what happens to each character, rather than trying to summarise the overall plot:

Mr Pecksniff

He teaches architecture to paying pupils who board at his house, though takes a large fee for this and doesn’t give much useful teaching. He is accused by John Westlock of being a hypocrite and a pretender. He speaks of himself as a moral man and sees himself only in the right, he lectures at others for their morality, and eagerly tries to take advantage of others, and is selfish and opportunistic. 

He is cousin to Chuzzlewit Snr, and manages to convince Chuzzlewit Snr that his concern and regard for him is disinterested by pretending to urge Martin Jnr’s case to him with no apparent gain or knowledge of their falling out, and suggests inviting all the relatives to his own house under the pretence of therefore deflecting their attention from Chuzzlewit Snr and allowing him to secretly leave the town.

He travels to London with his daughters and stays at Mrs Todgers’ Boarding House, Anthony and Jonas Chuzzlewit coincidentally join their coach to London. Pecksniff and Chuzzlewit Snr meet in London and Chuzzlewit Snr seems to believe in Pecksniff and is ready to rely on him, he does ask that Pecksniff sends Martin Jnr away though, which Pecksniff agrees to and appears shocked at Chuzzlewit Snr’s explanation of Martin Jnr’s betrayal by declaring feelings for Mary Graham. Pecksniff also agrees, along with his daughters, to show care and sympathy to Mary. 

He is later summoned secretly to London by Anthony Chuzzlewit who is keen for his advice on how to help further the chance of marriage between Pecksniff’s daughter and Jonas, as Anthony feels this would be a wise choice of wife for Jonas as she would not frivolously waste Jonas’ inherited money and would be keen to help him save and make more money. Pecksniff feels Anthony is looking older and frailer, and Anthony then has a fit and dies while Pecksniff is there. Jonas begs Pecksniff to stay at the house for a while, in order to say Jonas has not done anything to bring about or speed Anthony’s demise. Pecksniff also catches sight of Anthony’s will leaving his money to Jonas. 

Later when Pecksniff wants to cunningly conciliate and take advantage of both Jonas and Chuzzlewit Snr but conceal from each his attempts with the other, he is unpleasantly shocked at Chuzzlewit Snr and Mary arriving unexpectedly at his house when he already has Jonas there intending to propose marriage, at the same time as his two daughters being angry and in hysterics at Jonas proposing to Mercy not Charity. He takes the chance of telling Chuzzlewit Snr that he was present at the death of his brother, Anthony, and was impressed by Jonas’ seriousness and grief. He seems to have wormed his way into Chuzzlewit Snr’s good thoughts, and seems able to talk him into anything, he convinces him to move into the Pecksniff home rather than staying at the Dragon, and has plans to marry Mary himself in order to secure Chuzzlewit Snr’s fortune, and in order to pay back Martin Jnr. He comes across Mary solitarily walking and proposes to her, which she strongly rejects telling him she sees him for the conniving person he is, and that he is taking advantage of her in her unprotected state and taking advantage of Chuzzlewit Snr. He ignores all this, and insists on putting his arm around her waist and holding her hand, even though she demands him not to, and he tells her it would be better for Martin Jnr if she agreed to marry himself as he would then try and help Martin Jnr, but would hurt Martin Jnr if she refuses him. He later slumbers in the church where Tom Pinch is playing the organ and wakes to hear voices, it is Mary telling Tom about Pecksniff’s true character and that he is taking advantage of Chuzzlewit Snr and trying to force her to marry him by threatening Martin Jnr. After Mary leaves, Pecksniff secretly watches Tom and can see his view of him has changed. He determines to act first and goes to Chuzzlewit Snr saying he has overheard fragments of a conversation between Tom and Mary, and that Tom tried to force his affections on Mary so he now has no choice but to let Tom go. Tom does not challenge him when he tells Tom this infront of Chuzzlewit Snr, as Tom sees this would only anger Chuzzlewit Snr more against Martin Jnr and Mary, and he realises that if challenged Pecksniff would then excuse himself by saying he only heard fragments of the conversation, although Tom intimates to Pecksniff that he knows he heard the full conversation as he found his eyeglass in the church so knows just where Pecksniff had been sitting listening. 

When Martin Jnr comes to speak to his grandfather after returning from America, Pecksniff constantly challenges and interrupts Martin Jnr and speaks for Chuzzlewit Snr, who seems to be agreeable to this. Martin Jnr flatly ignores Pecksniff and refuses to retaliate. 

Jonas agrees, under pressure from Montague Tigg, to persuade Pecksniff to invest his money in Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Assurance Company. Pecksniff is drawn into Tigg’s and Jonas’ invitation to invest money in their loan company, deciding to invest almost all of his savings on his certainty that he will inherit Chuzzlewit Snr’s money. 

He is later invited to Chuzzlewit Snr’s presence, infront of Mark Tapley and Tom and Ruth Pinch and John and Martin Jnr and Mary and Mrs Lupin in order to be shown before them that Chuzzlewit Snr all the time saw through his duplicitous ways and tested him to see the depths to which he would sink. Chuzzlewit Snr actually hits Pecksniff and knocks him to the floor. Pecksniff retreats after saying he was taken in by Chuzzlewit Snr and the others present, due to his own trusting nature which he’s not ashamed to own, and that he forgives Chuzzlewit Snr for his duplicity. 

He ends up a drunken beggar, frequently applying to Tom for money and then abusing Tom when he gets the money and spends it on drink.

Mercy and Charity Pecksniff

Daughters of Mr Pecksniff, similar to him in their patronising tone to the boarders, particularly towards Tom. They agree to show care and sympathy to Mary at the request of Chuzzlewit Snr and in order to display their, and their father’s, supposedly disinterested regard for him. 

Jonas shows interest in them both, it is presumed he will propose to the eldest, Charity, but he actually proposes to the youngest, Mercy. Mercy teases Jonas constantly and calls him names and declares she will have the best of him when they are married. Chuzzlewit Snr asks her if she has been coerced into marrying Jonas and if she wishes to get out of the engagement, but she denies this. Mercy also gloats over Charity with the fact that Jonas chose her over Charity. Charity is hurt and bitter about Jonas preferring Mercy, and when she realises Tom had injured Jonas she says she is his friend from then on. 

Mercy is brought back to Jonas’ house after a month of being married, she seems overawed by the death and darkness and dreariness that still seems to linger in the house after Anthony’s death, and is subdued and fearful and dejected by Jonas himself. Chuffey is there also, who asks her if she has married Jonas and when she confirms this he says “woe upon this wicked house”. Mercy is beaten and treated cruelly and scornfully by Jonas, but she continues to try and placate him and speak lovingly to him and submit to him, just asking him to be gentle with her, which he ignores. 

Charity is angry at her father for colluding with Jonas to marry Mercy, and still hurt that Jonas chose Mercy over her, she is also angry at her father as she has guessed he plans to marry Mary. She demands to move out to Mrs Todgers’ Boarding House’, and Pecksniff is also keen on this idea. She moves to Mrs Todgers’, and is proposed to by a gentleman there, Augustus Moddle, after much prompting from herself, and accepts him. Charity bumps into Tom in London and takes him back to Mrs Todgers’ where he is shocked and upset to see the sad change in Mercy. 

Mercy is told by Jonas to prepare for a long journey, but they are taken off the boat by Tigg employing Tom, without Tom realising or understanding his involvement. 

Mercy makes an effort to take care and comfort Chuffey, and he is caring towards her too. 

Jonas makes a point of telling Mercy, on his return from seeing Tigg and Pecksniff, that he will be sleeping in the room downstairs for the next two nights and days and that he must not be disturbed. 

When Chuzzlewit Snr goes to accuse Jonas of murdering Anthony, he first takes Mercy into safekeeping. Chuzzlewit Snr later comes to Mercy, who has been staying with Mrs Todgers since Jonas’ death, with Chuffey keeping her company, on the day of Charity’s wedding, which is thought to be unseemly and heartless of her so soon after Jonas’ death. He apologises for not trying harder to see her true character and warn her against marrying Jonas, but she says he was kind to try and that nothing would have changed her headstrong mind then. She says she is grateful to the troubles she has had in marriage as it has changed her now for the better. Chuzzlewit Snr says Jonas’ estate will be seized to pay off creditors now Jonas’ part in the loan company is known, and her father is bankrupt, though Mercy says she wouldn’t go back to her father after he hastened on her marriage, so Chuzzlewit Snr asks her to come with him, assuring her that all his friends view her as a friend, Mrs Todgers also urges her to go and to go immediately and avoid the wedding. She does go. 

Augustus doesn’t turn up to his wedding with Charity, his letter to Charity says he is on a ship and that he will never be taken alive. Charity faints in shock and humiliation infront of all the relatives she has invited to the wedding with the intention of gloating over them.

John Westlock

A pupil of Pecksniff who has left in a temper accusing Pecksniff of taking his money under false pretences as no useful education has been provided. He sees the good in Tom, and recognises that Tom doesn’t see it in himself and that he naively and blindly trusts Pecksniff and is taken advantage of by Pecksniff. 

He comes into his fortune, so invites Tom to Salisbury so he can treat him to the meal they always talked and dreamt of, he happily includes Martin Jnr in the invitation although is a little suspicious that Martin Jnr doesn’t fully appreciate Tom and is taking advantage of him. He hears about Tigg taking money from Tom, so gives this money back to Tom saying he knows Tigg who asked John to pass on the borrowed money. 

He is summoned by the landlord of an inn, as there is a man there in a delirious fever who can’t give details of his name or address or friends or relatives, but a letter has been found on him with John’s name. John confirms he knew him when they were boys (we aren’t given the ill man’s name at first, but later learn it is Lewsome) but hasn’t seen him recently and knows nothing about his life or associates now, or why he was in the process of writing to John to suggest they meet. John pays for his care there. He sees Lewsome off when he returns home to Hertfordshire, Lewsome says he has something he needs to tell John, something frightful and unnatural and cruel that he helped in, but that he is too weak to tell him now and will write to him. 

John welcomes Tom when he comes to London after leaving Pecksniff, making a fuss of him and taking care of him and not mocking him for his former belief in Pecksniff that has now been destroyed. He meets Ruth and likes her. A Mr Fips comes to John saying he acts for someone who wants to employ Tom as a secretary and librarian, he can’t say who he acts for but that Tom is well known as a good man in the area of the Blue Dragon, and John immediately shares this good news with Tom. 

Tom tells John about the strange incident on the wharf with him being unintentionally involved in getting Jonas and Mercy off the boat. John is immediately interested in this and says he will do some investigations of his own regarding this (is he thinking of Lewsome and what he had said?) and he urges Tom to explain to Mercy or Jonas that he had no prior knowledge of the incident or what was in the note he delivered and has nothing to do with it, as John is fearful it could be something illegal and he doesn’t want people thinking Tom is involved. John speaks to Lewsome, who is a doctor, who admits he knew Jonas from gambling and owed him money, that Jonas asked him for drugs to kill an animal quickly and drugs to kill him slowly, Lewsome felt suspicious but supplied the drugs as Jonas said he’d clear his debt, but it has haunted him ever since and he is worried Jonas killed Anthony. John gets Lewsome to tell Martin Jnr this, they and Mark Tapley and Tom plan together how to act, they would prefer to go to Chuzzlewit Snr but recognise he is under Pecksniff’s control and he is Jonas’ father-in-law, and they are reluctant to involve Mercy. They decide in the end to approach Chuffey, as Tom remembered he had said odd words about Anthony’s death so may have seen or heard something that made him suspicious, they can’t see a way to approach him directly so decide to go through Mrs Gamp who they know has recently been employed to nurse Chuffey. John goes with Chuzzlewit Snr to speak with Chuffey and they all then accuse Jonas of murdering Anthony. 

John is invited by Chuzzlewit Snr to be present at the gathering to shame Pecksniff. He is then encouraged by Chuzzlewit Snr to accompany Ruth to Tom’s lodgings, Chuzzlewit Snr obviously suspecting they are in love and wanting to further this. John proposes to Ruth, who happily accepts him. They both state they want Tom to live with them, and delight in sharing their plans with him. 

Tom Pinch

He is a pupil of Pecksniff’s and is now his assistant. He is thoroughly convinced of the goodness and fairness of Pecksniff, and doesn’t see that Pecksniff took Tom’s grandmother’s life savings with a promise to educate him that he hasn’t delivered on, and that Pecksniff uses Tom’s good and generous and selfless nature in the town as an advert for himself, and that Pecksniff frequently puts Tom down, recognising he has low confidence in his abilities and that putting him down ensures his low confidence never improves. 

He is loved by the other villagers who all see the good-heartedness and generosity of him. 

He falls in love with Mary when she comes to the local church to listen to the organ but he doesn’t attempt to speak to her, he is content just to be the means of giving her pleasure from his organ-playing. 

He gives the last of his money to Tigg. 

He is happy to be friendly to Martin Jnr. 

He is delighted by John’s good luck in coming into his fortune, and is delighted to be invited to a posh meal by him. He accepts John’s story of Tigg paying back the borrowed money through John. 

When Martin Jnr storms off from Pecksniff’s, Tom gives him his last bit of money. Martin Jnr writes to Tom asking him to take care of Mary during his absence in America and to forward on letters between them, describing Tom to Mary as a simple and foolish yet trustworthy soul who admires him. Martin Jnr sends back Tom’s savings when he is given the anonymous money in London. 

Chuzzlewit Snr is interested in Tom, probably due to Mary praising him, but he judges Tom’s praise of Pecksniff to be fawning and false and is disappointed in him. Tom falls deeper in love with Mary when she and Chuzzlewit Snr are living at Pecksniff’s house, he also tries to give her opportunities to talk of Martin Jnr, as he agreed with Martin Jnr to do, but she makes no attempt to do this. 

Jonas bullies and goads Tom as he feels Tom is beneath him in social standing, and raises his stick to Tom who grabs the stick and when doing so accidentally strikes Jonas with the stick, which he feels very guilty about, though Jonas says the injury is from walking into a low branch of a tree in the dark rather than that Tom injured him. 

Mary tells Tom about Pecksniff’s true character and that he is taking advantage of Chuzzlewit Snr and trying to force her to marry him by threatening Martin Jnr. Tom finally sees Pecksniff in his true character and realises that the man he worshipped never actually existed. Pecksniff has listened to all of Mary and Tom’s conversation and can see Tom’s view of him has changed so determines to act first and goes to Chuzzlewit Snr saying he overheard fragments of a conversation between Tom and Mary and that Tom tried to force his affections on Mary, so he now has no choice but to let Tom go. Tom does not challenge Pecksniff when he tells Tom this infront of Chuzzlewit Snr, as he sees this would only anger Chuzzlewit Snr more against Martin Jnr and Mary, and he realises that if challenged Pecksniff would then excuse himself by saying he only heard fragments of the conversation, though Tom intimates to Pecksniff that he knows he heard the full conversation as he found his eyeglass in the church so knows just where Pecksniff was sitting listening. Tom leaves Pecksniff’s and the town, the town’s inhabitants are tearful to see him go, and he walks to Salisbury. Tom does not manage to speak to Mary before leaving. 

He decides to go to London from Salisbury to seek out John’s advice. John is delighted to see him and immediately offers to put him up at his apartment, he is sad to see how upset Tom is at the disillusionment of Pecksniff and doesn’t mock him for his former belief in the man, to Tom’s relief. 

Tom seeks out his sister, Ruth, and is angry to see her being treated disrespectfully by her employers, he takes her away, to her great relief, and they rent some rooms in Islington. He bumps into Charity, and also sees Mercy and is saddened at the change in her. While Tom is preparing an advert for himself in order to gain employment, John tells him that a Mr Fips has offered Tom the post of secretary and librarian based on his good name in the area of the Blue Dragon, though neither John or Tom know Mr Fips and he refuses to say who he is acting for. 

Tom and Ruth are watching the boats on the Thames leave for foreign places one morning, when their odd landlord (who turns out, seemingly coincidentally, to be Nadgett) asks Tom to give a note to a particular passenger on the boat, which Tom does, and this turns out to be Jonas with Mercy, the note causes Jonas to hurriedly get off the boat to be faced by Montague Tigg, Tom doesn’t understand any of this but Jonas believes Tom somehow has knowledge of the situation and had agreed to be used in this way by Tigg and Jonas vows to get even with Tom. Tom is urged by John to explain to Mercy and Jonas that he had nothing to do with the incident on the wharf and the note, as John is suspicious something illegal is happening and that Tom doesn’t want to be seen to be involved. Tom heads off with Ruth to speak to Mercy who accepts his explanation, but Jonas comes home and is angry to see Tom there and doesn’t believe his explanation, cutting him off before he can mention Nadgett’s name which would have alerted Jonas to the fact he was being followed by Nadgett.

Tom is shocked and upset when Martin Jnr tells him he is hurt by his betrayal but doesn’t explain what this betrayal is, Tom is convinced someone has abused him to Martin Jnr and is sure it will be put right in the end but is hurt himself that Martin Jnr believes the lies and doesn’t think better of Tom. 

Ruth guesses that Tom loves Mary, he explains to her that he never once thought he would marry her, and although this sometimes makes him sad, he is not going to let it make him bitter or affect his happiness in life. 

Chuzzlewit Snr appears at Tom’s workplace saying he is Tom’s employer and that he has been pretending all this time to be Pecksniff’s dupe in order to learn the worst about the man, and that he is about to punish Pecksniff. Tom is invited by Chuzzlewit Snr to be present at the gathering to shame Pecksniff. 

Tom is praised to the group by Chuzzlewit Snr for his honesty and loyalty, and he also says he was determined to ensure Tom was looked after when he left Pecksniff so secretly set up the librarian job for him. Martin Jnr begs for Tom’s forgiveness saying he saw Tom enter the property he knew belonged to Chuzzlewit Snr and so presumed Tom was in collaboration with him. Tom instantly forgives him. At Chuzzlewit’s praise of him, all present gather around Tom delighted for him and keen to show their love for him and how much they value him. 

Ruth and John tell Tom of their love, and he is delighted for them. They also say he will live with them. At the dinner where everyone is gathered, everyone makes a fuss of Tom and values him and makes him feel special. 

The book ends many years later with an older Tom playing the organ, not bitter in his lost love in Mary but happy that her child adores him and chooses him to comfort her, and not bitter that he frequently sends money to Pecksniff who is now a drunken beggar and abuses him after he has taken his money. It is implied that Chuzzlewit Snr is now dead but that he continued to bless Tom on his deathbed. At the end of the book, Ruth comes to sit next to him on the organ seat. 

Martin Chuzzlewit Snr (Chuzzlewit Snr)

He is rich and feels that his money has been a curse as it has corrupted all the people in his life, changing their natures and making them conspire to take it off him, making him suspicious of everyone, both friends and family. His only companion/carer is an orphan, Mary Graham, who receives a wage from him and is told she will inherit nothing from him, as he sees this as a way to ensure she wants him alive rather than coveting his death. He is angry when he discovers Martin Jnr and Mary are in love and threatens to disinherit Martin Jnr unless he gives her up, which Martin Jnr refuses to do. 

He is taken ill while passing through Pecksniff’s town near Salisbury, probably due to finding out about Martin Jnr and Mary, and recognises Pecksniff as his cousin though makes it clear he is suspicious of Pecksniff and wants nothing to do with him. He often makes a will when he is ill, but then destroys these wills as can’t decide who to leave his money to. 

He seems to be taken in by Pecksniff’s apparently disinterested concern and regard for him and is impressed by Pecksniff’s pretending to urge Martin Jnr’s case to him with no apparent gain or knowledge of their falling out, and for inviting all the relatives to his own house under the pretence of therefore deflecting their attention from Chuzzlewit Snr and allowing him to secretly leave the town. 

Pecksniff and Chuzzlewit Snr meet in London and he seems to believe further in Pecksniff and is ready to rely on him, he does ask that Pecksniff sends Martin Jnr away though, which Pecksniff agrees to and appears shocked at Chuzzlewit Snr’s explanation of Martin Jnr’s betrayal by declaring feelings for Mary. 

Mark Tapley offers to work for Chuzzlewit Snr, but he declines saying he is unable to trust anyone though he was more likely to think well of Mark than of anyone else. 

He goes to stay unannounced with Pecksniff. He is prepared to think highly of Tom but sees his praise and devotion to Pecksniff as false and fawning. 

He is concerned that Mercy is being coerced into marrying Jonas, as she talks constantly of hating him, he warns her that she cannot be released once she marries Jonas and urges her to think hard about it, but Mercy states she doesn’t want to be released from the engagement.
He later appears to be declining and losing his hearing and his sharp thinking, he appears to be more and more receptive to Pecksniff and under his influence. He is told by Pecksniff that Tom has tried to force his affections on Mary, and he supports Pecksniff’s decision to sack Tom. When Martin Jnr comes to speak to him on his return from America, apologising for his hasty actions and for not showing his grandfather due respect and telling him he has now seen the error of his ways and has altered and that he cares for him and wishes to rebuild their relationship, Chuzzlewit Snr allows Pecksniff to speak for him and to undermine what Martin Jnr is saying. He does demand Bevan’s name in order to repay the money lent to Martin Jnr. 

He later comes to Tom at his place of employment saying he is Tom’s employer, and that he has pretended to be Pecksniff’s dupe in order to learn the worst about the man and is shortly going to punish him. 

He goes with John and Mark and Lewsome to speak with Chuffey and they all then accuse Jonas of murdering Anthony. 

He is told by Mark that Martin Jnr’s earlier characteristics of thoughtlessness and selfishness were caused by Chuzzlewit Snr himself. 

He gathers Mark and John and Tom and Ruth and Mary and Mrs Lupin and Martin Jnr, and then when Pecksniff arrives he tells him he saw through him from the very beginning with how Pecksniff criticised Martin Jnr to Chuzzlewit Snr while trying to gather Martin Jnr to his side at the same time, he tells him he decided then to test how far Pecksniff would go in his lies by pretending to be under his power but he also decided to be fair and note any virtue or goodness he showed but that there were no examples of this. He actually hits Pecksniff and knocks him to the ground. He says that although he pretended to cast Martin Jnr aside, he employed Tigg, who he got to know from his appeals to him for Chevy Slyme, to keep him informed of where Martin Jnr was and his plans, and in this way he was able to anonymously send Martin Jnr the bank note while he was in London. He says he then hadn’t realised that the selfishness he identified in others was also present in him and his selfishness kept people away and often contributed to the other person’s selfishness, so when he sent the money to Martin Jnr he had hoped he would then be grateful and humbled and come back to him, not realising this wouldn’t happen unless he himself altered his ways. He is sorry for giving Tigg money for informing him about Martin Jnr, as he fears this allowed Tigg to begin the loan company that then led to his death. He says he harboured a wish that Martin Jnr and Mary would fall in love and had planned to benefit them and help them set up in life, but was then surprised and hurt to discover they were already in love, and rather than encourage this and remember his original hopes for this, he grew offended that he’d been cheated of the chance to plan for them and benefit them. But he says he does bless their union. He also says he was testing Mary during his testing of Pecksniff, and was impressed and humbled by her truth and loyalty to both him and Martin Jnr, and he had asked for Mrs Lupin’s help at the time to keep Pecksniff from harassing her. He also says he was impressed and humbled by Tom, and determined to secretly help him by employing him as a librarian. He encourages John and Ruth in their relationship, and says he must be allowed to act as a father to Mary and Ruth in their weddings.

He tells Mrs Gamp to take less alcohol, to show more humanity and regard for her patients and less for herself, and to be more honest, otherwise he will report her, and he ensures Sweedlepipe is present so he can make sure Mrs Gamp follows this advice. 

He comes to Mercy, who has been staying with Mrs Todgers since Jonas’ death, on the day of Charity’s wedding which is thought to be unseemly and heartless of her so soon after Jonas’ death. He apologises for not trying harder to see her true character and to warn her against marrying Jonas, but she says he was kind to try and that nothing would have changed her headstrong mind then. He says Jonas’ estate will be seized to pay off creditors now Jonas’ part in the loan company is known, and her father is bankrupt, so he asks her to come with him, assuring her that all his friends view her as a friend.

Mrs Lupin

She is landlady of the Blue Dragon pub where Chuzzlewit Snr stays when ill. 

She has feelings for Mark Tapley, and is sad to see him leave. 

She is also sad to see Tom leave, and brings a basket of provisions for him when she waves him off. 

Mark and Martin Jnr later surprise her by turning up at the Dragon, she is delighted to see them and pleased to see how respectfully Martin Jnr treats Mark. 

She is invited by Chuzzlewit Snr to be present at the gathering to shame Pecksniff, as she had been asked by Chuzzlewit Snr to keep Pecksniff from harassing Mary. 

Mary Graham

She is an orphan employed by Chuzzlewit Snr to be his companion/carer. 

She accepts Martin Jnr’s declaration of love, although Chuzzlewit Snr is angry at this and disowns Martin Jnr. Mark arranges a meeting in London between her and Martin Jnr before Martin Jnr leaves for America. She doesn’t seem to notice Martin Jnr’s selfishness in only thinking of himself in these schemes, and she buys him a diamond ring with her savings so that he has something of value on his travels that he can sell if needed, though he does not suspect this sacrifice of hers and presumes the ring was a gift that Chuzzlewit Snr gave her. 

Pecksniff plans to marry her in order to secure Chuzzlewit Snr’s fortune, when he comes across her solitarily walking, he proposes to her, which she strongly rejects. She tells him she sees him for the conniving person he is, that he is taking advantage of her in her unprotected state and taking advantage of Chuzzlewit Snr. He ignores all this, and insists on putting his arm around her waist and holding her hand, even though she demands him not to, and he tells her it would be better for Martin Jnr if she agreed to marry himself as he would then try and help Martin Jnr but would hurt Martin Jnr if she refuses him. She goes to Tom asking if he has heard anything from Martin Jnr, but he hasn’t. She is very upset and tells Tom about Pecksniff’s true character and that he is taking advantage of Chuzzlewit Snr and trying to force her to marry him by threatening Martin Jnr. Pecksniff has overheard all this, and tells Chuzzlewit Snr that he heard Tom trying to force his affections on Mary, so he now has no choice but to let Tom go. Tom does not manage to speak to Mary before leaving.

She tells Martin Jnr and Mark, on their return from America, that Pecksniff has made advances towards her and hopes to marry her, but that she avoids him and she recognises him for the bad person he is, she doesn’t think Chuzzlewit Snr will persuade her to marry Pecksniff although she is concerned how he seems to be under Pecksniff’s control, and she states Chuzzlewit Snr has been kind and considerate to her throughout.
She is invited by Chuzzlewit Snr to be present at the gathering to shame Pecksniff.

Montague Tigg

He is a friend of Chevy Slyme, who is a relative of Chuzzlewit Snr and hopes for money from him. He is more confident than Chevy so tends to speak for him. He is down on his luck, keen to borrow money from others, and full of prattle. He tries to swindle money from Tom and Martin Jnr for their board at the Dragon, he succeeds in getting it from Tom. 

He bumps into Martin Jnr in a pawnshop in London, he tells him he has split with Chevy. 

Later he changes his name to Tigg Montague Esquire and creates the Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Assurance Company, taking people’s money for life insurance with absolutely no money or security behind it to ever pay out, and for loans at exorbitant interest, but convincing people of the great stability and success of the company by having fine offices full of fine equipment and manned by a finely dressed porter, Bullamy, with himself as Chairman, and David Crimple as Secretary/Director, Crimple being the nephew of the pawnbroker that Tigg used to deal with, and Tigg also employs Bailey, from Mrs Todgers’, to drive his carriage, and employs Nadgett as an information-gathering man, and he pays commissions to Dr Jobling to recommend the company to patients. 

Jonas approaches the company, recommended by Dr Jobling, for a life insurance against Mercy’s life having had this request turned down by other insurance companies. Tigg charms Jonas’ suspicious and cunning nature by telling him how the business works and suggesting he join it and revealing to Jonas who he really is in order to impress him with how much he has gained. He asks Nadgett to look into Jonas, and Nadgett discovers a secret about him which allows Tigg to threaten Jonas and make him agree to persuade Pecksniff to invest money in the business (is this secret that Jonas killed Anthony?).

He uses Nadgett, who uses Tom, to prevent Jonas leaving, with Mercy, on a boat to Antwerp. He tells Jonas, when asked, that no-one else knows his secret but him. 

He reluctantly agrees to travel to Wiltshire with Jonas in order to convince Pecksniff to invest money in the company, he takes Bailey but Bailey is sat outside the coach. He feels very nervous travelling at night alone in the coach with Jonas during a heavy storm. The coach crashes, Tigg is unconscious and Jonas sees an opportunity to drag the kicking horses close to him in the hope they will kill him but the driver intervenes and Jonas then makes it seem as if he was trying to prevent the horses from harming him. They stay overnight at an inn, Tigg is still very ill at ease around Jonas. Tigg convinces Pecksniff to invest his savings in the company. He tells Jonas he has no further need of him and Jonas leaves. Jonas then lies in wait for Tigg in a wood as he heads home on horseback after agreeing the deal with Pecksniff, and murders him. Jonas is arrested for his murder by Chevy who is now a police officer. 

Chuzzlewit Snr tells the others that he employed Tigg, who he got to know for his appeals to him for Chevy, to keep him informed of where Martin Jnr was and his plans, he is sorry for giving Tigg money for informing him about Martin Jnr, as he fears this allowed Tigg to begin the loan company that then led to his death.

Chevy Slyme

He is a nephew of Chuzzlewit Snr. He is led and dominated by Tigg. He is proud but miserable about his lot, he is self-indulgent in his depression about having no money but thinks any work is beneath him. 

Later becomes a police officer, and he is searching for the murderer of Tigg after his body is discovered and is told by Nadgett that Jonas committed this murder as Nadgett had been following Jonas. Chevy goes to arrest Jonas, though Chuzzlewit Snr and the others are already there accusing Jonas of the murder of Anthony. He arrests Jonas, who then commits suicide in the coach to the police station. 

He surprises Chuzzlewit Snr by now having a profession.

The Spottletoes

They are relatives of Chuzzlewit Snr and came to Wiltshire following him in hopeful expectation of money. 

They are invited to Charity’s wedding, mostly so she can gloat over them, and they glory in her humiliation when Augustus stands her up.

Anthony Chuzzlewit

He is the father of Jonas. He came to Wiltshire following Chuzzlewit Snr in hopeful expectation of money. He is greedy and driven by money. 

He summons Pecksniff to London in order to encourage Pecksniff to agree to his daughter and Jonas marrying, as he feels she would be a good money-saving wife for him. He becomes frail and has a fit, and dies. 

It is later revealed that on his deathbed he told Chuffey that he was aware Jonas had tried to poison him, and he realised Jonas was the person he was because of the greedy and covetous way he had been brought up by Anthony, that he had planned to pretend to take the poison in the hope Jonas would repent of his ways and Anthony would then forgive him, Anthony also planned to let Jonas marry as he wished, and that he and Chuffey would then go away and live together on a little money giving everything else to Jonas, and he begged Chuffey never to tell what Jonas tried to do. Anthony then died of a broken heart.

Jonas Chuzzlewit

He is the son of Anthony. He came to Wiltshire following Chuzzlewit Snr in hopeful expectation of money. He has been taught by his father from a young age to be greedy and driven by money, but he also hates his father and desires his money when he dies. 

He shows interest in both Pecksniff’s daughters. 

When his father has a fit and dies, he begs Pecksniff to stay so he can state that Jonas did nothing to bring about or hasten Anthony’s death, and he spends a fortune on Anthony’s funeral so no-one can say he scrimped. 

He proposes to Mercy, though the family had presumed it would be Charity he would propose to. He puts up with Mercy’s teasing and goading, though says in a threatening way in his mind that she will be made to pay when they are married.
He bullies and insults Tom because he is lower in social standing, he goes to hit Tom with his stick but Tom gets the stick off him and accidentally strikes Jonas with it, though Jonas doesn’t admit this to anyone else. 

He is recommended by Dr Jobling to approach Anglo-Bengalee regarding insuring Mercy’s life, having been turned down by other insurance companies. Tigg instead suggests Jonas joins the company, which Jonas likes the idea of as he’s keen to make money at other people’s cost and likes the distinction of being on a board. 

He regularly hits Mercy, telling her he only married her in order to pay back the tricks and slights she dealt to him, he tells her he means to ‘conquer his wife, break her spirit, bend her temper, and crush all her humours like so many nut-shells’ and even threatens to possibly kill her, she continues to try and placate him and speak lovingly and sorrowfully to him, promising to submit to him and only asking him be gentle with her, which he ignores. 

He becomes more argumentative with Tigg, demanding more power and access to the company’s money. Tigg then whispers to him that he knows his secret, which terrifies Jonas and he then agrees to Tigg’s demands to get Pecksniff to invest in the business. He then tries to escape Tigg by boarding a boat to Antwerp with Mercy, but Tigg is there at the wharf and prevents him leaving by getting Nadgett to get Tom to take Jonas a note, with Tom having no knowledge of the contents of the note or the circumstances, causing Jonas to hurriedly disembark with Mercy. Jonas asks Tigg who else knows his secret, and Tigg says no-one. Jonas asks how Tigg knew to use Tom to stop him leaving, for which Tigg doesn’t answer but has no idea why Nadgett chose Tom. Jonas asks that he be left to deal with Tom for this, saying he already has a score to settle with Tom so this makes it two scores. Jonas also promises Tigg he will get Pecksniff to invest but says it will need Tigg’s presence there too in Pecksniff’s home, Tigg is reluctant but it is agreed they will travel there together. Jonas then drinks with Jobling, admiring and asking questions about his medic tools and what cuts they can make. He and Tigg travel to Wiltshire, with Bailey sitting outside the coach, during a storm. The coach crashes, Jonas takes the chance to try and kill Tigg with the horses while he is unconscious on the ground but the driver intervenes and Jonas covers his actions. He seems to enjoy taunting Tigg, knowing he feels scared of him. 

After they convince Pecksniff to invest money, Tigg tells Jonas he can leave. He goes home and finds Tom there waiting to explain about the wharf incident, he threatens violence to Tom and refuses to listen to him, thereby not learning that it was Nadgett who employed Tom to carry the message, though this information would have alerted him that he was being spied upon. He tells Mercy he is tired after his journey home and will sleep in the room downstairs for the next two nights and day, and she isn’t to disturb him. He then secretly leaves the room at night. He lies in wait for Tigg in a wood knowing Tigg will head through the wood on his way home on horseback after agreeing the deal with Pecksniff, and Jonas murders him. He dreams about the murder in great detail beforehand, and afterwards keeps seeing it re-enacted in his head and fears he’ll see Tigg waiting for him when he returns to his room and is very anxious that his absence from the room will have been noticed by the household, but it isn’t. 

He goes to the Lord Mayor, when it is announced that Tigg is missing and before his name is printed as one of the board, to say that Tigg and Crimple had swindled him and he had just found out that Tigg’s name was false and that Crimple has gone off with the money. 

Jonas is constantly suspicious that Tigg’s body has been discovered and that people can tell in his face and manner that he is guilty, this fear begins to totally consume him and he imagines people are staring at him and talking about him. 

Chuzzlewit Snr and John and Mark and Lewsome speak to Chuffey and then accuse Jonas of murdering Anthony, however Chuffey then says that Anthony was aware that Jonas was trying to poison him so decided to pretend to take the poison in the hope Jonas would repent but he didn’t so Anthony died of a broken heart. Jonas is then relieved to find he can’t be accused of murdering Anthony, though he is angry that he has therefore murdered Tigg and risked himself for no reason. Chevy Slyme then comes to the house with his fellow police officers to arrest Jonas for the murder of Tigg, as his body has been discovered and Nadgett leads the police to Jonas as he has been following him, he saw Jonas leave the room of his house and saw him return, he saw Jonas throw the clothes he’d worn into the river and alerted the police who brought up the clothes and saw they had bloodstains on them, and various coach drivers remembered dropping Jonas off and picking him up from near the spot where Tigg’s body is found. When alone with Chevy, his relative, Jonas asks for five minutes to commit suicide, Chevy agrees but Jonas chickens out of doing this, however he does it in the coach to the police station and dies. 

Chuffey

He is Anthony Chuzzlewit’s faithful clerk, very old and feeble, he is mocked by Jonas. He genuinely mourns Anthony when he dies. He seems to be gradually losing his mind and refers to someone dead upstairs, and keeps going upstairs to look for Anthony. 

He is caring to Mercy and she to him. 

Jonas asks Mrs Gamp to restrain him and see to his needs. 

Chuffey keeps to his promise to Anthony not to tell what Jonas tried to do, but when faced with how much Chuzzlewit Snr and John and Mark know about Jonas, he admits that Jonas was trying to poison Anthony, leading to them accusing Jonas of the murder of Anthony. Chuffey then tells everyone that Anthony actually discovered Jonas was trying to poison him so pretended to take the poison in the hope that Jonas would repent, and that Anthony then died of a broken heart. This allows Jonas to think he will get away with it, until he is arrested for murdering Tigg. 

He keeps Mercy company at Mrs Todgers’ in her mourning.

George Chuzzlewit

He is cousin to Chuzzlewit Snr, he came to Wiltshire following him in hopeful expectation of money. 

He is invited to Charity’s wedding, mostly so she can gloat over him, and he glories in her humiliation when Augustus stands her up.

Mark Tapley

He works at the Blue Dragon, he is very popular but has a strange idea of it being courageous to be jolly in adversity so is continually looking for difficulties in order to display his jolliness, even deciding to leave The Dragon in order to take a job such as a grave-digger or tax-gatherer, and even though he and Mrs Lupin have feelings for each other. 

He challenges Tigg and Chevy Slyme for not paying their bill at The Dragon. 

He sees Martin Jnr in London and offers to accompany him on his journey to America as an unpaid valet, as he sees this would give him the challenge of being jolly that he is searching for. He had previously asked Chuzzlewit Snr for employment, thinking this would be a chance to be jolly under adversity, but Chuzzlewit Snr said he was unable now to trust anyone. He meets Mary when he talks to Chuzzlewit Snr, so then arranges a secret meeting between Martin Jnr and Mary. He seems to weigh up and see Martin Jnr’s selfish character after he has met with Mary, and notes that Martin Jnr talks only of his sacrifice, not once appreciating Mary’s difficulties or appreciating how she probably gave him the diamond ring in order to help him, and Mark is pleased with how challenging this will be to his aim of being jolly under difficulties. 

He gives his savings to Martin Jnr so he can buy a plot for them in Eden, though he sees through Scadder’s blusterings and false promises about Eden but when he tries to hint of this to Martin Jnr he is hushed and not listened to. He is told, when the ship for the new settlements is about to sail and it is too late to change their minds, that no-one who ever goes to Eden comes back alive. 

Mark, like Martin Jnr, feels despair when they arrive at Eden, which is a desolate swamp, but he is determined not to give way to despair, he tries to cheer Martin Jnr and to lay out their possessions in their cabin and erect their architect sign of business on the door. When Martin Jnr becomes ill from the local fever that is prevalent in the region, he cares for him whilst also working hard every day to improve their land and cabin. 

He discovers the wife and young children he cared for on the ship to America are also at Eden with their husband who had been trying to eke out a survival there, one child dies of the fever followed eventually by all the other children. 

Mark then becomes ill of the fever himself. He recovers, and is surprised to find Martin Jnr seems to have undergone a change of character and is much less selfish and much more appreciative of Mark’s efforts and qualities. 

He leaves Eden with Martin Jnr after their appeal for money is met by Bevan (although I am surprised Mark can leave the now childless husband and wife there on Eden, was there not any money left from Bevan for their passage also?). 

Mark and Martin Jnr surprise Mrs Lupin at The Dragon, and Mark greets her very affectionately. Mark tells Tom that he is planning to ask Mrs Lupin to marry him.
He goes with Chuzzlewit Snr to speak with Chuffey and then accuse Jonas of murdering Anthony. 

He bravely tells Chuzzlewit Snr that Martin Jnr’s earlier characteristics of thoughtlessness and selfishness were caused by Chuzzlewit Snr. 

He is invited by Chuzzlewit Snr to be present at the gathering to shame Pecksniff. He announces at the gathering that he is to marry Mrs Lupin and The Blue Dragon will be renamed The Jolly Tapley. 

He is overjoyed to spot the husband and wife from Eden returned to England and walking by him in London, he introduces them to Chuzzlewit Snr who is also delighted to see them. Mark states they will live with him and the soon to be Mrs Tapley at The Jolly Tapley.

Martin Chuzzlewit Jnr (Martin Jnr)

He is Chuzzlewit Snr’s grandson, and his heir. Both his parents are dead. He fell in love with Mary but Chuzzlewit Snr was angry at this. Martin Jnr refused to give up Mary and has therefore left the guardianship of Chuzzlewit Snr. 

When passing through Salisbury, he saw Pecksniff’s advert for students and decided to study with him as he was a relative and he was interested in the subject. He is dismissive and thoughtless towards Tom, he seems a selfish person and negligent of others’ needs, though not deliberately cruel. 

He is later accused by Pecksniff of lying and concealing his true nature and of cruelty to Chuzzlewit Snr, but he realises that Pecksniff has fooled Chuzzlewit Snr into believing his good nature and in order to further himself has decided to snub Martin Jnr. He accuses Pecksniff of this and of being a scoundrel, and leaves his house in a temper saying he will go to America, determined to make his fortune there using his architectural skills. Tom runs after him to give him some money, which is probably Tom’s life savings. 

He struggles to get a job on the ships to America while in London and soon runs out of money, having to pawn his things, and he bumps into Tigg in a pawnshop. He is then sent some money anonymously. Mark offers to come with him to America to be a valet to him but for no wages, as he thinks there would be the desired challenge of being jolly in such an adventure, which Martin Jnr agrees to, again patronising Mark like he patronises Tom. Mark mentions having seen Mary in London when he asked Chuzzlewit Snr for a job, he arranges for Martin Jnr and Mary to meet so they can bid farewell to each other before he goes to America. Martin Jnr selfishly reminds Mary of his sacrifice of Chuzzlewit Snr’s regard due to his love for Mary and only talks of his excitement at the opportunities for him in America rather than having any appreciation of Mary’s anxiety about him. He returns Tom’s money to him in the letter he writes charging Tom to look after Mary and be a go-between for their letters. 

He is very seasick on the shop over to America, like everyone else, but only has thoughts for his own sufferings, not helping others as Mark does. When they arrive in New York, he meets Colonel Diver and Jefferson Brick who own and write for the New York Rowdy Journal, and he and Mark board with Major Pawkins. Martin Jnr’s first impressions of American people is that they only think about, and will do anything for, dollars with no consideration for honour or fair-dealing, they will swindle and speculate at the expense and ruin of others, they will blame any bad qualities they have, such as forging letters in their newspaper, on the ‘old country’ England, while praising America as being the envy of the world and leaders in human civilisation for freedom and liberty and national prosperity, they scorn any interests such as literature or theatre saying they are too busy for such things, and that everyone has titles such as colonel or major or doctor or reverend or captain, and they appear very greedy with food, and violent to each other. He also meets the Norris family and General Fladdock who have the view that blacks are a funny people in appearance and manners and there is an antipathy between the races that justifies the cruelty of slavery, and although they frequently praise the advantage of living in a country with equality they are keen to enquire after all the aristocracy they have proudly met with in England. Martin Jnr is despondent of success after his first day in New York. He is very keen to invest in land in Eden, and accepts Mark’s offer of his savings, though this is a much larger contribution of money than Martin Jnr himself can put forward even after he has sold Mary’s ring, Martin Jnr therefore suggests that Mark becomes an equal partner in the business venture, though still continues to hush him and talk over him and consider him as inferior. He invests all their money into a plot in Eden, being totally taken in by Scadder’s promises and elaborate descriptions of what is there. Martin Jnr does seem to learn gradually to slightly appreciate Mark more ‘although he might sometimes profess to make light of his partner’s inexhaustible cheerfulness…he was always sensible of the effect of his example in rousing him to hopefulness and courage’. 

Martin Jnr is surprised that no-one on board the ship with them is going to Eden, and that some passengers disembark at places that look very inferior to his belief of what Eden is like. They arrive at Eden which is essentially a slimy swamp with no grand buildings, just about ten simple cabins, many of them ruined and decayed, the inhabitants are ill with fever and many have died, the air is poisonous, the weather is extremely hot, and the land is covered in a forest of trees growing in putrid matter. Martin Jnr gives way to despair and feels weak and ill with fever, Mark cares for him. Mark becomes sick, and while Martin Jnr cares for him he gradually begins to realise what a selfish person he has been and vows to change. When Mark recovers, he writes to Bevan to ask him for money for their passage vowing to pay him back, and he and Mark leave Eden and return to England a year after they left it. 

He is angry to learn, while in London, that Pecksniff has stolen his design for a grammar school and received praise and recognition for this. 

He goes to his grandfather to apologise for his hastiness and lack of respect, he says a hard life abroad and nearly dying has made him review everything and he knows he acted wrongly and selfishly, he says he would have died and his fate never known if it wasn’t for Mark, he says he wants to be close to his grandfather again and asks for his forgiveness and for his grandfather not to reject him, and to help him find honest work to support himself, he states his feelings towards Mary haven’t changed but have strengthened and he hopes Chuzzlewit Snr can respect him for this continuing loyalty, and he wishes he had been more open and yielding and trusting with Chuzzlewit Snr regarding Mary from the start and more considerate of his grandfather’s feelings. He tells Chuzzlewit Snr that he had to borrow money from Bevan to get home, and Chuzzlewit Snr says he will pay this back to Bevan. Pecksniff constantly interrupts and challenges Martin Jnr and speaks for his grandfather, but Martin Jnr doesn’t rise to this or retaliate, keeping calm and polite and respectful and speaking only to his grandfather. 

Mary confirms to Martin Jnr that Pecksniff is trying to marry her and that Chuzzlewit Snr seems to be entirely under his control, but that she doesn’t think Chuzzlewit Snr will force her into marriage and he has remained consistently kind to her. Martin Jnr tells her he will go to London and hopes to do great things there, and will ask Tom to teach him how to earn his living. 

Later in London, he hears Lewsome’s confession of supplying drugs to Jonas, and his fear these were used to kill Anthony. He plans with John to approach Chuffey via Mrs Gamp for more information. Martin Jnr is also eager to explain to John that he is aware he didn’t value Tom before, but does now. He finds accommodation for himself and Mark, and takes satisfaction in knowing how he has saved Mark trouble and how pleased Mark will be. 

He writes to the trustees of the grammar school stating the design for the school was his, not Pecksniff’s. 

He later tells Tom he knows Tom has betrayed him and is extremely hurt by this, but doesn’t explain what Tom has done, he refers to Tom having the choice of following wealth and favour on one side or of the friendship of a struggling fellow on the other, and that he doesn’t blame Tom for choosing wealth and favour but blames him for not being honest enough to tell him of his choice and to pretend friendship with him and invite Martin Jnr to share confidences with him. 

He is invited by Chuzzlewit Snr to be present at the gathering to shame Pecksniff. Chuzzlewit Snr tells him he sent the bank note anonymously to him while he was in London, and that he found out where he was by employing Tigg to inform him. He says he then hadn’t realised that the selfishness he identified in others was also present in himself, and his selfishness kept people away and often contributed to the other person’s selfishness, so when he sent the money to Martin Jnr he had hoped he would be grateful and humbled and come back to him, not realising this wouldn’t happen unless he himself altered his ways. 

Martin Jnr asks Tom’s forgiveness for doubting his loyalty and honesty, he explains he saw Tom enter the property, in his librarian duties, that he knew belonged to Chuzzlewit Snr so jumped to the conclusion that Tom was in collaboration with Chuzzlewit Snr. Tom instantly forgives him. Chuzzlewit Snr blesses Martin Jnr’s and Mary’s love, saying he had always hoped they would end up together.

Mrs Todgers

She runs a boarding house in London, where the Pecksniffs stay, Mr Pecksniff is sometimes quite amorous with her. 

She has Mercy stay with her in her mourning, and urges her to go with Chuzzlewit Snr though she will greatly miss her.

Bailey

He is Mrs Todgers’ bootboy when the Pecksniffs stay there. He talks as if he is much older than he really is. 

He leaves Mrs Todgers’ and is employed by Tigg, when he reinvents himself as Tigg Montague Esquire. Bailey is very pleased with this new employment as he is dressed in fine clothes and can talk knowledgeably about horses. 

He knows Poll Sweedlepipe and Mrs Gamp, so goes with Sweedlepipe to meet Mrs Gamp and bring her home on the arrival of Jonas and Mercy as a married couple, and is curious to see Mercy as he knew her also at Mrs Todgers’. 

He is told to accompany Tigg and Jonas to Wiltshire to see Pecksniff, but travels outside the coach. The coach crashes and Bailey is severely injured, Tigg calls a doctor when they reach an inn but is told it is unlikely that Bailey will live, and Sweedlepipe back in London hears that he has died. 

Later however, to Sweedlepipe’s delight, Bailey has not died. Sweedlepipe says he will have Bailey go into business with him and look after the birds while he does the barbering. 

Ruth Pinch

She is Tom’s sister. She is a governess at a house in London. The Pecksniffs visit her while in London, mostly in order to patronise her and show off. 

Tom rescues her from her employment as a governess and from the rudeness she endures there. They rent some rooms together in Islington, and she is very happy being housekeeper to Tom. 

John appears to greatly admire her, and she seems to have feelings for him too. 

She shows great sympathy and kindness to Mercy, who is grateful to her. 

She tells Tom that she has guessed his heart and that he loves Mary, she urges him to believe he could marry Mary but Tom says there is no chance of this and that he can still be happy in life and not let regrets overwhelm him or make him bitter. 

She is invited by Chuzzlewit Snr to be present at the gathering to shame Pecksniff. 

John proposes to Ruth, who happily accepts him. They both state they want Tom to live with them, and delight in sharing their plans with him.

Mr Bevan

He is an American that Martin Jnr meets during his first day in New York, he is a fellow boarder at Pawkins. He seems more genuine than the other false swindling Americans, he can identify the problems with his country and its people. He advises Martin Jnr, saying there isn’t much opportunity for architects in New York but to contact General Choke regarding land available in the Valley of Eden, as he mistakenly believes General Choke has no connection with any land company so can give disinterested advice to Martin Jnr. 

He later answers Martin Jnr’s appeal for money so they can escape Eden.

Mrs Gamp

She is a midwife and nurse/watcher for the dead. She is an alcoholic, and always puts her needs above the needs of the patient she is supposed to be caring for, eg taking their pillow for herself during nightwatches, and making up a fire to keep herself warm even though the doctor has advised that the patient’s room be kept cool. She always provides her views by relating conversations with her friend, Mrs Harris, who seems to be an imaginary friend. 

She is employed by Jonas to look after Chuffey after Anthony’s death, and again while Jonas is staying at Pecksniff’s. 

She is also employed, along with Betsey Prigg, to care for the unknown Lewsome, although she tells Mr Mould, the undertaker, that Lewsome may be coming his way and promises to recommend Mould if so, and she later accompanies Lewsome on his journey home to Hertfordshire when he is well enough to travel. 

She goes to the wharf to see Mercy off to Antwerp with Jonas, seeming to feel caringly towards Mercy. 

She tells Jonas that Chuffey is wandering in his mind and talking about someone dead upstairs and that Chuffey goes looking for Anthony. Jonas employs her to restrain Chuffey and to take care of his needs, and she asks Betsey Prigg to help her in this but then falls out with Betsey when she states Mrs Harris doesn’t exist. 

She takes Chuzzlewit Snr and John and Mark to speak to Chuffey about Anthony’s death. Chuzzlewit Snr later advises Mrs Gamp to take less alcohol, to show more humanity and regard for her patients and less for herself, and to be more honest, otherwise he will report her, and he ensures Sweedlepipe is present for this so he can make sure she follows his advice.

Mr La Fayette Kettle and General Choke

They are members of the Watertoast Sympathisers, who produce the Watertoast Gazette and send this publication criticising England’s ways to Queen Victoria, mistakenly believing she resides at the Tower of London. 

General Choke has recently joined the Corporation of Eden, unknown to Bevan, and he introduces Martin Jnr to Scadder, the agent. 

Kettle and Choke later dissolve the Watertoast Sympathisers on learning that their largest donator of funds is a supporter of the emancipation of slaves.

Scadder

He is the land agent for Eden. He sells a plot of 50 acres with a house already on it to Martin Jnr and Mark using bluster and false promises and making out that Eden is already a thriving city with banks and churches and factories and hotels and theatres, and a newspaper office that publishes the Eden Stinger.

Mrs Hominy and Elijah Pogram and Dr Ginery Dunkle

They are stately Americans, highly respected and lauded by their fellow countrymen, and presented to Martin Jnr and Mark as remarkable people, but who are actually highly ridiculous in their manner and belief of America’s and their own superiority, and highly vocal in their criticisms of England. 

Mr Mould

He is an undertaker. His undertaking business is successful, he has a good life, and is a happy husband and father. He often works alongside Mrs Gamp, and both promote the other.

He is employed to deal with Anthony Chuzzlewit’s funeral.

Lewsome

He is the unknown fevered man that Mrs Gamp and Betsey Prigg nurse at the inn. He talks in his fevered sleep about concerns with people drinking too much from a fountain, he counts 530 men passing through the door all dressed alike and with the same distortion on their faces and with black crepe on their arms and flag, he also shouts out the name ‘Jonas Chuzzlewit’ and the word ‘no”. 

He was the childhood friend of John, but John hadn’t seen him for many years and doesn’t know why he had John’s name in his pocket, however John pays for his care at the inn. 

When Lewsome has recovered slightly, enough to be able to travel, he goes home to Hertfordshire, Mrs Gamp accompanying him on the journey, where his care will be taken over by a nurse there. He says to John, just as he is leaving for Hertfordshire, that he has something he needs to tell him, something frightful and unnatural and cruel that he helped in, but that he is too weak to tell John now and will write to him. 

Later he explain to John that he is a doctor, he knew Jonas from gambling and owed him money, that Jonas asked him for drugs to kill an animal quickly and drugs to kill him slowly, Lewsome felt suspicious but supplied the drugs as Jonas said he’d clear his debt, but this has haunted him ever since and he is worried that Jonas killed Anthony. He signs a document to this effect. 

He goes with Chuzzlewit Snr to speak with Chuffey and then explains his story infront of Jonas and the others, as they accuse Jonas of murdering Anthony.

Poll Sweedlepipe

He is Mrs Gamp’s landlord, he is also a barber and a bird trader. 

He is very upset at the news of Bailey’s death. However, to Sweedlepipe’s delight, Bailey has not died, and Sweedlepipe says he will have Bailey go into business with him and look after the birds while he does the barbering. 

Chuzzlewit Snr includes Sweedlepipe in his caution to Mrs Gamp to take less alcohol, to show more humanity and regard for her patients and less for herself, and to be more honest, otherwise he will report her, asking Sweedlepipe to ensure she follows this advice.

Dr Jobling

He treated Anthony Chuzzlewit, and Lewsome. 

He works on commission recommending Anglo-Bengalee to his patients, though is careful to state he knows nothing of the company’s figures. He recommends the company to Jonas Chuzzlewit when he is looking to insure Mercy’s life.

Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens available on Amazon
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