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Literature / Martin Chuzzlewit

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A lesser known work of Charles Dickens (though he considered it his best written), Martin Chuzzlewit contains many of the usual tropes found in Dickens' novels. It was published in serial form between 1842 and 1844 before being published in full in 1844.

The story concerns the Chuzzlewits, a family almost exclusively selfish and greedy. The patriarch is old Martin Chuzzlewit, a seemingly curmudgeonly old man accompanied by a pretty young life companion named Mary Graham, who falls in love with his grandson, also named Martin. The elder Chuzzlewit is furious and disowns his grandson, who falls in with an architect named Seth Pecksniff. This is when things begin to get interesting...


Tropes used in Martin Chuzzlewit:

  • Big Brother Instinct: Tom is furious to find how Ruth is being treated by her employers.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Chuzzlewits, a family of self-seekers, thieves and murderers.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Pecksniff, who pretends to be a perfect host and devoted to caring for the elder Martin, all the while caring only for his fortune.
  • Cassandra Truth: Mr Chuffey is mistaken (perhaps deliberately) as a senile old fool, but he is aware that something unsavoury happened to Anthony, and warns the protaganists about Merry's treatment.
  • Deceptive Disciple: Pecksniff, to the elder Martin.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Dogged Nice Guy Tom Pinch does not end up with Mary in the end, but he generally seems contented.
  • Domestic Abuse: It is strongly implied that this is the case in Jonas and Merry's wedding.
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  • Even Evil Has Standards: Tigg is genuinely concerned for Bailey's health when he fails off the crashing carriage.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Jonas Chuzzlewit. Pecksniff might also be considered an example.
  • Hysterical Woman: Cherry becomes this after Jonas decides he wants to marry Merry, rather than her, consigning herself to her room and dissolving into fits of Inelegant Blubbering.
  • Nice Guy: Tom Pinch, who never does a single selfish act in the book, despite all the trouble it causes him. Fortunately, he is recognised for his good works, and upon being fired from Pecksniff's, has a whole village come out to wish him goodbye.
  • Patricide: Averted. Jonas did not get around to killing his father, as the old man died from despair before he could be poisoned.
  • Secret Test of Character: It is revealed that Martin Senior has been planning one of these for some time. Unfortunately, it has negative effects for several characters.
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  • The Chessmaster: The elder Martin, who orchestrated much of the plot as a scheme to determine who in his family deserved his fortune.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Despite his timid nature, Tom Pinch delivers a pretty epic one to Ruth's employers.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Pecksniff, to the elder Martin. Little does he realise that Martin is wise to his tricks.