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Martin Chuzzlewit
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Martin Chuzzlewit > Chuzzlewit, Chapters 36 - 38

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Tristram Shandy Dear Fellow-Pickwickians!

This week's chapters have again changed focus, and so the story takes up with poor Tom Pinch, whom we follow into the streets of London. After a reunion with John Westlock, he goes to see his sister Ruth and for once shows that he has guts.

In Chapter 37 he chances on Cherry and Merry again, and the reader is made aware of the changes in Merry that her unfortunate marriage has wrought. In a way, one could say that Jonas is Merry's own Eden, only she cannot get away from it as easily as Martin and Mark were able to leave behind theirs.

Chapter 38 is, at least to my taste, the most interesting of the three because it implies a dark, a monstrously dark mystery about Jonas, one that makes Montague cast a doubtful glance at his razors even. This mystery has such a hold on Jonas that it leaves him no choice but to dance to Montague's tune.


I am asking myself why suddenly, after so many chapters, Ruth is drawn back into the plot. What function will she serve, if any - besides that of being "marriage fodder"?

I am not really asking myself what the nature of the secret be that Nadgett has unraveled ... that seems pretty obvious.

I would also like to know what you think of the narrator's dealing with Mrs. Todgers in Chapter 37 ... I might get grumpy about it again ...


Amelia, free market Puritan (aeimaginer12) | 20 comments Alright! I am FINALLY caught up!
Unfortunately, I find Tom Pinch as dry as a bone, so I have to really force myself through the chapters that are mostly from his perspective. I am fairly certain I know what will ultimately happen with Ruth, so I agree with you - marriage fodder!!

Also, and eve with bearing in mind the more polite Victorian society in which the story is set, I found some of Tom and Ruth's dialogue toward one another slightly creepy. I am glad that these two siblings get along, but jeesh!


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Kim

Mr. Pinch Departs to Seek His Fortune
Chapter 36


message 4: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim

Mr. Nadgett Breathes, as Usual, an Atmosphere of Mystery

Chapter 38


message 5: by Kim (last edited Aug 06, 2014 01:43PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "I would also like to know what you think of the narrator's dealing with Mrs. Todgers in Chapter 37 ... I might get grumpy about it again ..."

You grumpy? Who'd have ever believed it. :-}


Hilary (agapoyesoun) I admire Tom Pinch's backbone in his taking a stand against his sister's employer. His loyalty has overcome his meekness.

It is certainly a spicy introduction, in Ch 38, to the mystery that hangs over Jonas's head. I could not choose anyone better to be put in such a subservient position. Looking forward to the unravelling mystery.

Oh as for Mrs Todgers, I can't quite remember much of note, except that even with the narrator's swipes about men and gravy, he seems to be showing a softer side to her if it is to be taken at first sight. Her gentleness and care towards her own sex seems to be a factor. The idea that she is poor and is doing her job out of a spirit of altruism, I can only read as being facetious on the narrator's part. Otherwise, I'm unsure.


Peter Yes! Now we're back on track. Dickens seems to be sending his characters to London, and London will be a firm footing for his newest adventures.

Tom with John, them both with Ruth. Pecksniff better watch himself as characters linked with his past seem to be gaining momentum and losing their fear of him. Martin and Mark are also being drawn into the gravitational pull of London.

This chapter makes the chessboard of characters much more interesting.

I agree with Hilary. The Jonas mystery is very interesting and as much as he has been seen as an aggressive bully with his wife he certainly seems to cringe in the presence of Montague. Lot's happening.


Tristram Shandy As to Mrs. Todgers, I was referring to the following passage:

"Mrs Todgers might have said her best friend. Commercial gentlemen and gravy had tried Mrs Todgers's temper; the main chance—it was such a very small one in her case, that she might have been excused for looking sharp after it, lest it should entirely vanish from her sight—had taken a firm hold on Mrs Todgers's attention. But in some odd nook in Mrs Todgers's 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, at a touch from Mercy's hand, had flown wide open, and admitted her for shelter.

When boarding-house accounts are balanced with all other ledgers, and the books of the Recording Angel are made up for ever, perhaps there may be seen an entry to thy credit, lean Mrs Todgers, which shall make thee beautiful!"


To my taste, this is an example of cringeworthy writing in that the narrator is far too obtrusive, sermonizing and telling us what we have to think about a particular character. It would have been far more interesting to let Mrs. Todgers's acts and words speak for themselves, thus giving the reader the opportunity to work out what to make of Mrs. Todgers. Dickens, in a way, does this with Mrs. Gamp.


Hilary (agapoyesoun) I see what you're getting at, Tristram. I'm obviously an old sentimental at heart. I just thought: och, isn't he being nice about her!


Peter Dickens can and does play favourites at times, and for a modern reader perhaps the phrase "show don't tell" has been drilled into our heads too much. In a past novel this question was raised too.

Tristram, with total ungrumpyness, I like it when Dickens writes as you reference above. I seem to fall into his world and let him take me away. To confess my point, the first time I meet Pecksniff, way back when, I liked him from the first description. Yup, I totally missed the irony, sarcasm and tone. I thought that Pecksniff was just fine. Then my face met a brick wall and I woke up.


Amelia, free market Puritan (aeimaginer12) | 20 comments I go back and forth between really liking Dickens' "telling" style and simply skimming through it. Once I get to about the last 1/3 of the book, I'm just eager to finish, so I have less patience for Dickens sometimes sermonizing style.
And with some characters, like Tom Pinch and Mrs. Gamp, I feel like he's trying too hard to make them interesting. I must be the only person on the planet who finds Mrs. Gamp insufferable. Nearly every time she opens her mouth, it's a monologue! Unfortunately, I just skim her dialogue. Probably would appreciate her character more if I just had to watch and listen to it, rather than read. Oh, the power of the miniseries!


Everyman | 2034 comments Peter wrote: "Tristram, with total ungrumpyness, I like it when Dickens writes as you reference above. I seem to fall into his world and let him take me away. "

I second that. I also like it when the Victorian authors turn directly to the readers and address them -- sometimes even so directly as to way "Dear reader,..."

I like books where I feel as though I'm having a conversation with the author, where we're sitting around a log fire with our cups of tea by our side and he or she is simply telling me a story, direct and personal.


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Kim Tristram wrote: "To my taste, this is an example of cringeworthy writing in that the narrator is far too obtrusive, sermonizing and telling us what we have to think about a particular character.

Grump.


Tristram Shandy Lest you misunderstand me, I do not in general object to an author commenting on the action, a character or whatever, and neither do I hate the intrusive narrator per se because I think a narrative voice that digresses from the action makes for a lot of the charm and depth of 18th and 19th century novels. There are, for example, wonderful passages in Moby-Dick, where Melville philosophizes, and the beginning of Tom Jones is also a masterpiece in itself, I think. Dickens very often also makes good use of the intrusive narrator, e.g. when he introduces Wackford Squeers and then remarks that the common prejudice runs in favour of two eyes.

But the passage I quoted above is too preachy and I get the impression that Dickens is unsure about his readers here. Will they notice that Mrs. Todgers is a good character after all? Hmmmmm, I'd better clear up all doubt by telling them in so many words. And as it has to do with feelings, I'd better put some pathos into it. This might have been the Inimitable's reasoning, and in a way, this little passage reminds me of the moralizing tone that marred so large passages of Oliver Twist. Here the intrusive narrator becomes an obtrusive narrator to me.

On the other hand, just take the many passages in MC where the narrator directly addresses Tom Pinch. They are sometimes sentimental, but they are cleverly written, and they just seem to flow and flow and flow ... This is, to my taste, the tone Everyman mentioned, of sitting around a log fire, with a cup of tea ... or let's say grog for that matter, by our side ...


Tristram Shandy Amelia, I don't think you are the only person on this planet to find Mrs. Gamp unsufferable ... some of her patients might share this assessment, too.

I really like her a lot because of her monologues. Not only are they full of exuberant imagination, but they also give a wonderful example of how Dickens managed to endow most of his characters with a linguistic style of their own. In my old university days I also had to study a certain amount of linguistics, which did not go down too well with me, and so whenever I could I de-linguistified the term papers I had to write in that field. One term paper I wrote therefore was about Mrs. Gamp's ideolect, and the closer I looked the more it became obvious that Dickens gave her not only a special vocabulary and pronunciation but even typical sentence patterns. Through the examination of Mrs. Gamp's ideolect, I finally noticed what a brilliant writer Dickens was.

But maybe I'm just siding with her because in real life I also tend to soliloquize a lot, mostly on films and books ;-)


Hilary (agapoyesoun) Love your insight into Mrs Gamp, Tristram. I had not recognised the idea that Dickens used a different vocabulary for her speech. Fascinating.


Peter Tristram wrote: "Amelia, I don't think you are the only person on this planet to find Mrs. Gamp unsufferable ... some of her patients might share this assessment, too.

I really like her a lot because of her monolo..."


Tristram

To what extent do you think that Dickens's ability to capture the uniqueness of speech patterns, vocabulary and pronunciation was character specific, as in Mrs. Gamp, or was it very widely obvious throughout his writing. I'm no linguistic, but I'm betting examples abound throughout his work.

I wonder if anyone in academia has done a detailed study of this aspect of his writing (I'm betting yes).

Perhaps much of his skill in writing such dialogue came partly from his acute ears and memory as he did his extended wanderings around London.


message 18: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "Amelia, I don't think you are the only person on this planet to find Mrs. Gamp unsufferable ... some of her patients might share this assessment, too.

I really like her a lot because of her monolo..."


OK, now I'm going to look up what delinguistified, soliloquize and idiolect mean. I'm guessing that at least one isn't a real word and at least one has never been used in a sentence before. I shouldn't be surprised at the words you use anymore, I just finished a book by a German author that kept using the word Obersturmbannführer, whatever it means it has to be one of the longest words ever invented. :-}


Tristram Shandy Kim wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Amelia, I don't think you are the only person on this planet to find Mrs. Gamp unsufferable ... some of her patients might share this assessment, too.

I really like her a lot beca..."


Of course, I keep wandering what German author you might have been reading because Obersturmbannführer was a rank in the SS and the SA, which can be compared to that of a lieutenant-colonel in the military forces. It's probably one of the best-known ranks so that in movies or books dealing with the Second World War and Nazi Germany, there is always at least one Obersturmbannführer around.

Now, the word "delinguistify" is probably not a real word, but then I only claim the same right of making up new words that was granted to Humpty Dumpty - and who would deny one egghead something that is commonly granted to another? ;-)


message 20: by Kim (last edited Aug 10, 2014 04:11PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "Of course, I keep wandering what German author you might have been reading because Obersturmbannführer was a rank in the SS and the SA"

It was Spark of Life: A Novel of Resistance by Erich Maria Remarque . I'm wondering how long it takes your poor children to learn how to spell words that are nineteen letters long. :-)

Oh, and it was about a concentration camp mostly.


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Kim Oh, when I looked up soliloquize I got this brilliant but totally worthless definition:

Soliloquize:

verb (used without object), so·lil·o·quized, so·lil·o·quiz·ing.

1. to utter a soliloquy

2. to utter in a soliloquy



message 22: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Yes, I did look up soliloquy too, how could I not after that?

so·lil·o·quy [suh-lil-uh-kwee]

noun, plural so·lil·o·quies.

an utterance or discourse by a person who is talking to himself or herself or is disregardful of or oblivious to any hearers present (often used as a device in drama to disclose a character's innermost thoughts)



message 23: by Kim (last edited Aug 10, 2014 04:40PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Tristram wrote:"Now, the word "delinguistify" is probably not a real word"

Oh, and delinguistified, which I thought for sure you just made up comes up as ”detached from language”. As for delinguistify I actually found that in a sentence though what the sentence means is beyond me.

Together, money and power "delinguistify" dimensions of social life by organizing interaction through objectifying behaviors.


Tristram Shandy Well, I could have sworn that never before would anyone be desperate enough to use a roundabout word like "delinguistified". It is a depressing thought that even when having a half-baked idea and following it, a man, or a woman, will not be able to avoid having their predecessors.

As to "soliloquy", I always badger my students with the distinction between a monologue, where somebody talks for a long time in front of others, like "Romans, fellows, countrymen ...", or a soliloquy, where somebody talks for a long time in front of nobody else, like in "To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow ...". Students like to mix these two up, and when they have finally learnt the distinction I ask them what to make of Hamlet's famous "To be or not to be", where Hamlet only thinks he is talking to himself whereas he is overheard by Polonius and the King. - How nice it is to be a teacher! ;-)


Peter Tristram wrote: "Well, I could have sworn that never before would anyone be desperate enough to use a roundabout word like "delinguistified". It is a depressing thought that even when having a half-baked idea and f..."


Tristram

Yes, it is/was nice to be a teacher. with all these Tristramfied words flying around I'm betting you have let some of Lewis Carroll's work slip into your class... and if the students did not appreciate Alice in Wonderland well "off with their heads!"


Tristram Shandy Peter wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Amelia, I don't think you are the only person on this planet to find Mrs. Gamp unsufferable ... some of her patients might share this assessment, too.

I really like her a lot beca..."


Peter,

I am no linguist, either, and linguistics was the part of my studies I really had to force myself through, and so whenever I could, I tried to connect my term papers with something that has to do with literature.

I think that not only Mrs. Gamp but a lot of Dickens's characters have their own special language patterns, and yes, they are probably based on what Dickens heard throughout his wanderings through London. One obvious example is probably his attempts at rendering the Yorkshire dialect in Nicholas Nickleby, or his tendency to give certain recurring lines to some of his characters, like "Barkis is wiling"; among other things there is Mr. Micawber's grandiloquence that comes to my mind.

You can observe it in everday life: Certain people have a tendency to use certain words and expressions. During a staff conference, when you know who is going to talk on a certain topic, you can play something like "phrase bingo" with your neighbours, i.e. you write down certain phrases that you expect person X or Y is going to use, and you tick them off as they come - and the winner is he or she who has ticked off all their phrases first ;-)


Tristram Shandy With regard to my last entry, I forgot to add that, of course, I would never do such a thing because I am too busy concentrating on the discussions themselves, however end- and pointless they may be!


Hilary (agapoyesoun) Wow, Peter, you've Peterified (petrified?) Tristram. I'm not sure if he qualifies as an owl anymore. :D


Tristram Shandy Peter wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Well, I could have sworn that never before would anyone be desperate enough to use a roundabout word like "delinguistified". It is a depressing thought that even when having a half..."

Some of my students actually place their heads on their tables during class - as if they were really expecting a beheading.


Tristram Shandy And yes, I actually do use Through the Looking-Glass sometimes, but not with my students. I use the Jabberwocky poem with teachers-to-be in order to cure them from the typical language teacher's habit of asking for unknown words in a text and then asking students to explain these words.


Hilary (agapoyesoun) How I love Alice's Adventures in Wonderland etc. I have a house full of dissenters though. They dislike the surreal aspect of it and the now adult kids were terrified of the Disney movie as children. :(. It was always one of my favourite books. My mother used to recite poems from it too which probably helped to stoke my love for it/them.


Tristram Shandy I can understand why you love the book so much. Maybe it could be a candidate for a group read once we have finished the Dickens novels, which will, sadly, be the case one day.


Hilary (agapoyesoun) What a great idea!!! :)


Everyman | 2034 comments Tristram wrote: "Some of my students actually place their heads on their tables during class - as if they were really expecting a beheading. "

When my students did that, they called it napping.


Peter Tristram wrote: "Peter wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Amelia, I don't think you are the only person on this planet to find Mrs. Gamp unsufferable ... some of her patients might share this assessment, too.

I really like ..."


Oh my, we may well have been in the same school, only in parallel universes. In our school the admin insisted on a monthly meeting for the entire staff. Only coaches of a team playing a scheduled game were exempt. A few of us would make up an individual "bingo card" of words, phrases or admin speak we expected to hear. Then each time that word/phrase was spoken we would stroke it off on our cards. I never considered myself childish; indeed, I listened to everything that was being said in the meeting.


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Kim Everyman wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Some of my students actually place their heads on their tables during class - as if they were really expecting a beheading. "

When my students did that, they called it napping."


Oh my, I think both of you must have been my teachers at one time or another.


message 37: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "As to "soliloquy", I always badger my students with the distinction between a monologue..."

At least if your students ask you what soliloquize means you don't tell them to utter a soliloquy. I hope not anyway.


Hilary (agapoyesoun) Peter, it's ok if you didn't listen to every word. I'm sure you won't get In trouble! :D


Everyman | 2034 comments Kim wrote: "Oh my, I think both of you must have been my teachers at one time or another. "

I wasn't. If I had been your teacher, your tastes in literature would have become too well developed to like Dickens's Christmas Carol.


Tristram Shandy Everyman wrote: "Kim wrote: "Oh my, I think both of you must have been my teachers at one time or another. "

I wasn't. If I had been your teacher, your tastes in literature would have become too well developed to..."


Oh, I'd better put in my virtual earplugs ...


Tristram Shandy As to my students, I sometimes make them soliloquize indeed to help them develop a feeling for Shakespeare. A very nice activity, for instance, is to take one certain monolgoue from Macbeth - in which his ambition and his conscience argue with each other - and to have it presented by two different students, one of them urging Macbeth towards crime, the other trying to withhold him.

It takes just two lessons to do it, and you learn a lot about bringing Shakespeare to life :-) but also about Macbeth's inner conflict.


Peter Tristram wrote: "As to my students, I sometimes make them soliloquize indeed to help them develop a feeling for Shakespeare. A very nice activity, for instance, is to take one certain monolgoue from Macbeth - in wh..."

Nice idea. I never thought of doing that.


Hilary (agapoyesoun) Hey Tristram, I wish that I had learnt Macbeth this way!


Tristram Shandy Of course, you cannot only use activities like that because then you'll never finish even one third of what you have to do before the term is up. However, I like a mixture of creative tasks, analytical work and lecture style ;-)


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Kim Everyman wrote: "Kim wrote: "Oh my, I think both of you must have been my teachers at one time or another. "

I wasn't. If I had been your teacher, your tastes in literature would have become too well developed to..."


My brother was also a teacher and a major pain in the behind. I'm beginning to think you're my brother. My long lost brother.


message 46: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "As to my students, I sometimes make them soliloquize indeed to help them develop a feeling for Shakespeare. A very nice activity, for instance, is to take one certain monolgoue from Macbeth - in wh..."

As for your students, wouldn't it be a whole lot easier for them if you would tell them to go talk to themselves for awhile then telling them to go soliloquize? That word gets on my nerves more all the time. :-}


message 47: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "Of course, you cannot only use activities like that because then you'll never finish even one third of what you have to do before the term is up. However, I like a mixture of creative tasks, analyt..."

Couldn't you just let them read in peace and skip over all that other stuff? I wonder how many times I've wanted to say that to a teacher. :-}


Everyman | 2034 comments Kim wrote: "I'm beginning to think you're my brother. My long lost brother. "

If I were, I would have made sure to say lost.


Peter Kim wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Of course, you cannot only use activities like that because then you'll never finish even one third of what you have to do before the term is up. However, I like a mixture of creat..."

Kim

You just have said that, and to an entire roomful of teachers at the same time! ;>}


Hilary (agapoyesoun) Who needs Dickens? The war of words here is so much more entertaining. :)


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