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Barnaby Rudge
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Barnaby Rudge > Barnaby, Chapters 26-30

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Tristram Shandy "'[T]he plot thickens; I have thrown the shell; it will explode, I think, in eight-and-forty hours, and should scatter these good folks amazingly. We shall see!'", says a maliciously complacent Mr. Chester in Chapter 28.

I'm sure this gives us lots of stuff to talk about!


message 2: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim There's something I don't understand about this Mrs. Rudge and the robber thing. In Chapter 26 we have a conversation between Gabriel Varden and Mr. Haredale about why the widow is leaving her home. Gabriel seems to think it may be because she has fallen in with bad friends, that her home is a refuge for one robber at least. When Mr. Haredale asks him what he means he replies:

'My own eyes, sir, are my witnesses, and for her sake I would be willingly half-blind, if I could but have the pleasure of mistrusting 'em. I have kept the secret till now, and it will go no further than yourself, I know; but I tell you that with my own eyes--broad awake--I saw, in the passage of her house one evening after dark, the highwayman who robbed and wounded Mr Edward Chester, and on the same night threatened me.'

'And you made no effort to detain him?' said Mr Haredale quickly.

'Sir,' returned the locksmith, 'she herself prevented me--held me, with all her strength, and hung about me until he had got clear off.' And having gone so far, he related circumstantially all that had passed upon the night in question.


Now from what I remember of Chapter 2 when Gabriel meets up with the "robber" he is on his way to London (remember our discussion on how they were both going the same way but passed each other?), they have an argument about the way the stranger was riding his horse, how he endangered them both by riding so recklessly, that although they have this argument, and the stranger does threaten Gabriel, he doesn't hurt or rob him. Unless the threat was breaking the law I don't think either man broke any laws at that time. Here is the threat by the way:

'I will, at any cost,' rejoined the traveller. 'In proof of it, lay this to heart--that you were never in such peril of your life as you have been within these few moments; when you are within five minutes of breathing your last, you will not be nearer death than you have been to-night!'

'Aye!' said the sturdy locksmith.

'Aye! and a violent death.'

'From whose hand?'

'From mine,' replied the traveller.

With that he put spurs to his horse, and rode away; at first plashing heavily through the mire at a smart trot, but gradually increasing in speed until the last sound of his horse's hoofs died away upon the wind; when he was again hurrying on at the same furious gallop, which had been his pace when the locksmith first encountered him.


Now in Chapter 3 Gabriel finally arrives in London and finds Edward Chester lying lifeless on the road with Barnaby there calling for help. Gabriel doesn't see what happened to Edward, he finds him there already lifeless so he doesn't see who robbed him. In Chapter 5 Gabriel goes to Mrs. Rudge's home to check on Edward. He is talking with the widow when someone knocks on the shutter. When Mrs. Rudge answers the door Gabriel sees it was the stranger from the night before and chases him. I have never figured out why he chased him. Other than they obviously don't like each other from the encounter of the night before, the stranger has done nothing to be chased for. Gabriel doesn't find out until the next chapter when he actually talks to Edward that it was the same man, so why does he chase him in the first place jus for knocking on the door? And now he tells Mr. Haredale that the reason he chased him was because he was the man who robbed Edward, but he didn't know that when he chased him. It just bothers me.


message 3: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim I had a brilliant idea while reading Chapter 27, this is the chapter that Mr. Chester stops and visits with Mrs. Varden and Dolly, "charming" them all and giving them that story of how much he cares for his son. My idea is that Mr. Chester and Mrs. Varden should fall in love and run away together, so far they so deserve each other, and take Miggs and Sims with them as maid and butler. In one move I could have gotten rid of four annoying characters in one chapter. :-}


Peter Well, you all have been busy, and I've really enjoyed catching up. Although I was tempted to add my 2 cent's worth (Canadian currency) as I read the previous week's posts, let's just say Kim has been in fine form with the info on the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, Everyman is spot on with his comments on the "odious" trio of Chester, Sim and Hugh, Tristram's phrases of "Maypole Hugh" and "widow Rudge" made me smile and chuckle and Joy's incisive character comments were spot on.

Mr. Chester is so smooth, so sublime, so frightfully horrid. I imagine Dickens loved creating such a character. Sim and Hugh are somewhat like earlier mean-spirited Dickens characters, but Chester is in a new category, a new level of Dickens' imagination. What does it say about me when I confess that I can't wait to see what Dickens has in store for him next?


Tristram Shandy Kim wrote: "There's something I don't understand about this Mrs. Rudge and the robber thing. In Chapter 26 we have a conversation between Gabriel Varden and Mr. Haredale about why the widow is leaving her hom..."

I think that Gabriel just assumes that the highwayman who has robbed Edward must be the same person who ran into him and who threatened him - on the grounds that there were probably not a lot of people roaming the streets in that inclement weather that night. So if he could have laid hands on the stranger when he was visiting Mrs. Rudge's house, he might have presented him to the authorities as a suspect of the mugging, and then the stranger might have been hard put to clear himself of the suspicion and to bring forth an alibi.

So Gabriel's motive in detaining the stranger might have been to have him examined by an officer of the law, and the stranger's motive in running away must have been that he has no alibi and was probably the very selfsame person that robbed Edward.


Tristram Shandy Kim wrote: "I had a brilliant idea while reading Chapter 27, this is the chapter that Mr. Chester stops and visits with Mrs. Varden and Dolly, "charming" them all and giving them that story of how much he care..."

Can you really imagine Mr. Chester falling in love with anybody but himself?


Tristram Shandy I would also agree with Peter, who says that Mr. Chester is a new kind of villain and that Dickens must have taken infinite pleasure in having this character create mischief. Otherwise it would be inexplicable why Mr. Chester has been dominating our last two group readings so much and why we constantly see him talking to Sim, Hugh, Emma, and the Vardens. He is really weaving a web here, and we are entitled to witness his intricate machinations.

We should also give him his due by saying that his ruses are really very cunning and that he is excellent at playing on Mrs. Varden's vanity and discovering people's soft spots at once. It is also quite funny to see how he impresses waiters and other people offering services into thinking that he will leave them a munificent tip - and then disappoints them. You can feel how much Dickens must have enjoyed writing all these scenes.

And so, even if that might come over as grumpy, I hope that Chester and the other villains will not be thwarted in their designs too easily but still be able to follow their designs for a while with impunity.


Tristram Shandy By the way, Mr. Chester can also be quite funny, as here,

"'The door will be opened immediately [...] There is nobody but a very dilapidated female to perform such offices. You will excuse her infirmities? If she were in a more elevated station of society, she would be gouty. Being but a hewer of wood and a drawer of water, she is rheumatic. [...]'" (p.262)



Tristram Shandy One finally learns the reason why there is such inveterate enmity between Mr. Chester and Mr. Haredale:

"'My scapegoat and my drudge at school [...], my friend of later days, who could not keep his mistress when he had won her, and threw me in her way to carry off the prize; I triumph in the present and in the past [...]'" (p.291)


Now everything falls into place.


Tristram Shandy Or look here,

"'[...] Did you ever counterfeit extreme ingenuousness and honest indignation. My dear fellow, you have no conception, if you ever did, how faint the effort makes one.'" (p.290)


Poor Mr. Chester! ;-)


message 11: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "Can you really imagine Mr. Chester falling in love with anybody but himself?"

Oh, never. He'll only ever love himself. They still all deserve each other....so far anyway. :-}


Everyman | 2034 comments Peter wrote: "Mr. Chester is so smooth, so sublime, so frightfully horrid. I imagine Dickens loved creating such a character."

When you think about it, Dickens really seemed to enjoy creating truly nasty characters. We've mentioned Quilp before, but there's also Fagin (and Mack), and plenty of others. What's interesting is that they're all really nasty in different ways; he wasn't satisfied with creating one nasty and reprising him (always him? Are there any truly nasty women in Dickens?) but made each nasty nasty in his own way.


Everyman | 2034 comments I expect Tristram will think that in Chapter 30 he has some ammunition to support his view of Mr. Willet. But not so. He is trying hard to raise a responsible, respectful son, but sometimes children even in Dickens's age just had to rebel and see whether the grass is greener elsewhere. But he'll find out eventually, I'm sure, that home is the best place, and that Father Knew Best.


message 14: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Everyman wrote: "Are there any truly nasty women in Dickens?

That's a good question, I have to think about it for awhile, but so far, no I can't think of any truly nasty Dickens women. So, from that we can gather that; men-bad, women-good. Just like real life. :-}


message 15: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Everyman wrote: "I expect Tristram will think that in Chapter 30 he has some ammunition to support his view of Mr. Willet. But not so. He is trying hard to raise a responsible, respectful son, but sometimes child..."

Oh yeah, Tristram is definitely not going to agree with the Father Knew Best line when it comes to John Willet. :-} As to poor Joe Willet, I don't blame him for finally getting fed up with it. I'm glad he didn't choose his own father to take his frustration out on, but I hope Mr. Cobb wasn't an old man. (I can't quite remember). It wouldn't be too nice of Joe to beat up an old man.


Peter Everyman wrote: "Peter wrote: "Mr. Chester is so smooth, so sublime, so frightfully horrid. I imagine Dickens loved creating such a character."

When you think about it, Dickens really seemed to enjoy creating trul..."


Everyman

Madame DeFarge is a rather unpleasant piece of work. One could argue she had some motivation because of what happened to her sister, but she is nasty.

Perhaps one of the great woman fights in all of literature is the Miss Pross vs Madame DeFarge match near the end of TTC.


message 17: by Peter (last edited Feb 14, 2014 08:27AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Peter My fascination with Dickens's portrayal of Mr. Chester continues to grow. The interplay between Chester and the beggar is subtle, yet brilliant. Chester appears to be so pleasant to a beggar that he was "emboldened to follow for alms." Chester finds such attention "complimentary to his power of feature, and as a reward suffered [the beggar]to follow him [and then] dismissed him with a fervent blessing. Only Dickens could write such a sentence with a straight face and yet, I'm sure, twinkle in his eye.

Even Dolly thought that Chester "was the sweetest-spoken gentleman she had ever seen" as did Miggs and Tappertit. It is interesting to note that as the chapter ends Dolly says "I'm pretty sure he was making game of us, more than once." To me, this phrase suggests Dolly knew men and their ways in a far more perceptive way than many others. Coquette she may be, but a perceptive young lady too.

In contrast to Dolly, her father says of women in Ch 26 "I wouldn't have the presumption to say [I understand] any woman. It's not so easily done."


Christine | 330 comments Betsy trottwood and jane murdstone too. DC. My personal favorite.

Susan nipper and mrs pipchin my 2nd. DAS


Peter A random thought just popped into my mind. Chester is a master manipulator. What other characters in literature have that particular talent. My vote would be for Iago in Shakespeare's Othello.


Christine | 330 comments Barry Lyndon.


Christine | 330 comments Katherine and heathcliff. Wuthering heights

Alec D'Urberville. Tess of the ...

Steerforth. DC.

AND GRANDPA. TOCS!


Christine | 330 comments Manipulation is not just for the evil or the bold.

Phillias fogg. Around the world in 80 days & mr pickwick were very manipulative.


Christine | 330 comments Me Chester represents so much of what was wrong with the times. He reminds me of the marquis st evrémonde. ATOTC


message 24: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Peter wrote: "Madame DeFarge is a rather unpleasant piece of work. One could argue she had some motivation because of what happened to her sister, but she is nasty."

True. I didn't think of her. I'm still sticking to men-bad, women-good overall though, especially when Everyman is around. :-}


message 25: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Joy wrote: "Jane Murdstone is pretty evil though not as conniving as Mr. Chester."

True, you guys are better at remembering grumpy women than I am. :-}


Tristram Shandy Nasty women seem rarer than nasty men in Dickens's novels indeed. However, there are some that come to my mind all the same: What do you make of Miss Havisham, for instance? She is also manipulative in her lust for vengeance, and she even destroys the life of a little girl to fulfil her plans. Another unpleasant, but then maybe not truly nasty, malevolent woman is Mrs. Clennam in Little Dorrit. Let's not forget Miggs, either, who is downright spiteful and conniving. I'm not so sure about Sairey Gamp, though: She is not exactly a very trustworthy and emphatic midwife and nurse, but one cannot really call her a villain then.

Maybe as Victorian society limited woman's range of action in many ways, it also limited her freedom to wreak mischief - a freedom that man could enjoy better at that time?


message 27: by Peter (last edited Feb 16, 2014 03:19PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Peter Tristram wrote: "Nasty women seem rarer than nasty men in Dickens's novels indeed. However, there are some that come to my mind all the same: What do you make of Miss Havisham, for instance? She is also manipulativ..."

Hi Tristram

For some reason I've never seem Miss Havisham as nasty in a purely evil way. What she does to Estella, how she manipulates Pip and all the rest is horrid, but for some reason I've never seen her as evil. Maybe it's the dress, the wedding cake, the demand to Pip to "play." To me, she was always on the edge of humourous. A kind of Monty Python weird humour, but still funny like the always look on the bright side skit.


Tristram Shandy Why John Willet is a tyrannical father

Chapter 30 indeed shows that Mr. Willet is a tyrannical, high-handed old grump savouring power for power's sake and to bask in the admiration of his cronies. I would change the adage Father Knew Best in his case into Father Had Better Know because this father had better know when to stop treating his son like a young child when it is so obvious that he has grown into a young man.

Not only is it hard to stomach for Joe to be constantly put down and humiliated in front of everybody else, but it is also a parent's duty to prepare their children for later life, and by constantly keeping them out of harm's way and making their own decisions for them one does not do so at all.

It was probably not very nice of Joe to vent his anger on Mr. Cobb, but I could understand his fury very well - and, no worries, Kim, Mr. Cobb is such a podgy and sturdy specimen that he will not have taken too much harm.


Tristram Shandy Peter wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Nasty women seem rarer than nasty men in Dickens's novels indeed. However, there are some that come to my mind all the same: What do you make of Miss Havisham, for instance? She is..."

Hi Peter,

you are right, I think: The book has a very off-beat kind of humour, and Miss Havisham is definitely a grotesque person. But some other of Dickens's villains are grotesque, e.g. Quilp, Mr. Jingle or Silas Wegg. And yet there is something more than just strange humour in the character of Miss Havisham: She has been utterly hurt as a bride, and everybody would probably feel pity for her in that respect. However, it seems more that her pride than her feelings have been hurt, because she has set out on a quest of revenge against men in general. So even though she may be evil in that respect, she still has her motives, which makes her a more life-like villain that, let's say, Quilp, who seems to have stepped out right of a fairy tales book.


Tristram Shandy I've just come up with another female blackguard: Miss Brass from TOCS.


Tristram Shandy And yet another: The French maid in Bleak House.


Christine | 330 comments Miss havisham seems on the fence to me. She's so grotesque. If I can get past how bad she must smell , she is manipulative and came across as dangerous to me from the get go. I was surprised she didn't kill someone. Bad genes , inbreed she was more than a broken heart going on there.

Silas wegg! I love him. One of my mostest favorite characters in literature!


message 33: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "And yet another: The French maid in Bleak House."

Good for you! I thought of her but didn't bother mentioning it because I thought no one who know who it was!! Shows what I know. :-}


Peter If we keep growing this list there will be more villains and dastardly women than men. Would Estella fit this list, or do we forgive her?


message 35: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Yes, I got a few from Nicholas Nickleby:

Mrs. Squeers, I could still go back into the book and hit her just thinking of her.

And Peg Sliderskew, housekeeper for Arthur Gride, they deserved each other.


message 36: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Good Mrs. Brown from Dombey & Son is pretty evil too in my opinion. Unless she changes as the book goes on, I can't remember.


Christine | 330 comments Well, dickens ( they say, resented his mother for not coming to his aide and allowing herself to be Beaten down by his dad. He is said to have despised his wife's subservient or old fashioned ideals. (He did chase young tail when all was said and done). ... Hmmmmm.


Everyman | 2034 comments Tristram wrote: "What do you make of Miss Havisham, for instance? She is also manipulative in her lust for vengeance, and she even destroys the life of a little girl to fulfil her plans.

She's not evil. She's just very, very sad.


Tristram Shandy Everyman wrote: "Tristram wrote: "What do you make of Miss Havisham, for instance? She is also manipulative in her lust for vengeance, and she even destroys the life of a little girl to fulfil her plans.

She's n..."


I know, Everyman, that you are a lawyer and would, of course, defend Miss Havisham ;-) Although I agree with you in seeing that she was a victim of a ruthless man years ago, yet I still think that her pride and haughtiness have made her turn her sadness into something bad, i.e. the desire to take revenge on young men like Pip, who by no means can be held responsible for Miss Havisham's being jilted. In that respect I would consider her as evil ...


Tristram Shandy Kim wrote: "Good Mrs. Brown from Dombey & Son is pretty evil too in my opinion. Unless she changes as the book goes on, I can't remember."

At the moment, my memory fails me as to who Mrs. Brown was ... therefore maybe she was only slightly evil :-)


Tristram Shandy Peter wrote: "If we keep growing this list there will be more villains and dastardly women than men. Would Estella fit this list, or do we forgive her?"

Hi Peter,

I would regard Estella as a victim mainly, because Miss Havisham started to influence her when the girl was very young, and so maybe she does not know better. Depending on what ending of the novel you read, there is also some change in Estella, isn't there. All in all, for once I feel inclined to be generous and exempt Estella from the Evil Bunch.


Tristram Shandy Kim wrote: "Tristram wrote: "And yet another: The French maid in Bleak House."

Good for you! I thought of her but didn't bother mentioning it because I thought no one who know who it was!! Shows what I know...."


Bleak House is my favourite Dickens, and my favourite novel - along with Tristram Shandy - and so I know my way around its characters and situations quite well.


Christine | 330 comments She is all the above , but most of all she is insane. Sooooo Norman bates. She is surrounded by carcasses ( dead bugs and all ) . Please secure all sharp instruments and never turn your back on her.


Tristram Shandy Hi Christine,

I actually was quite impressed with your comment on how bad she must have smelled. I had never thought along those lines, and when you mentioned it, it suddenly became so very obvious to me!


Christine | 330 comments Oh yeah! I worked at a thrift shop and going through the ENDLESS bags of donated cloths ( in all states of being) ....

ODM ( open door ministries) is also the local food pantry. Supported by the 2nd hand shop.
Need I say more...

I register smells often when I read. Why not!!!


Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Synaesthesia, Christine?

Wow there's a lot to read on this thread - seems to have metamorphosed into something other than Barnaby Rudge! I may return after reading...


Christine | 330 comments That happens a lot. Feel free to change the subject at any time. :-)


message 48: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "I know, Everyman, that you are a lawyer and would, of course, defend Miss Havisham"

Oh please, what happened to his being a defense lawyer during NN, from what I remember you were both prosecuting poor, poor Nick. :-}


Peter Mr. Chester's meeting with Emma Haredale is an interesting contrast. On the one hand we have Chester, who is the charming snake, and on the other hand we have Emma Haredale, the innocent maiden. Emma comes off much better than most other characters' encounters with Chester. Emma is refined, intelligent and openly defiant to Chester's manipulations. Unlike the earlier encounter between Chester and Hugh in the night, where Chester easily controls the hulking Hugh, Emma repels Chester rather effectively.


message 50: by Bionic Jean (last edited Feb 17, 2014 02:54PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) OK, so you've been finding dastardly women in Dickens - very pleased to realise that there are some, as usually of course they are very - er - wishy-washy, Dickens admiring his demure, docile, virtuous women.

But has anyone discovered any bad/malevolent/evil (however you'd like to put it) young women? Estella apart, whom I think we all agree is more damaged than anything, I can think of no young females who are "baddies". Of course if they are around 17 then they have to be perfect and angelic by definition. And we all know why that is...


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