Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit
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- United States
More informationMartin Chuzzlewit was Dickens 6th novel, serially published in 1843 - 44. Irrespective of the fact that Dickens considered - "Chuzzlewit is in 100 points immeasurably the best of my stories"- it failed to resonate with, or capture the public's imagination as many of its predecessors had done. However by the1850s its popularity had risen and it eventually found recognition as the great novel that it is.
The beginning is somewhat protracted but the prose is magnificent throughout. The theme of the story is about selfishness and obstinacy. The callow eponymous hero Martin Chuzzlewit is estranged from his grandfather (Martin Chuzzlewit the elder) for having the temerity to fall in love with his grandfather's ward - Mary Graham. The Chuzzlewit family are all placed under the microscope as Martin journeys on a voyage of what can only be termed as "self-discovery". His journeying takes him to America, where his experiences change him forever and he returns a far better man.
Woven around the theme of the book are some of Dickens most finely drawn characters, ranging from the comic: Seth Pecksniff, an oily unctuous hypocrite, Mrs Gamp a nurse with a propensity for strong liquor and a delightful way of mangling the English language: to the macabre Jonas Chuzzlewit a dark brooding murderer. There are plots within plots, deception and artifice abound, confidence tricksters on both sides of the Atlantic, and a vicious murder.
This is a satirical novel, particularly when Martin is in America and Dickens, who never shirked from social criticism, utilized that portion of the book to express his feelings on his experiences during his visit to America in1842. It is a comical novel, humour being prevalent throughout, witness Mrs Gamp "Rich folk may ride on camels, but it ain't so easy for em to see out of the needles eye". The irrepressible and precocious young Bailey strutting and posing in his Footman's livery. The deeply melancholic Augustus Moddle, desperate to be run over but finding no takers! and doomed to marry the wrong