54 pages 1 hour read

Charles Dickens

Pickwick Papers

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1836

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Important Quotes

Quotation Mark Icon

“The first ray of light which illumines the gloom, and converts into a dazzling brilliancy that obscurity in which the earlier history of the public career of the immortal Pickwick would appear to be involved, is derived from the perusal of the following entry in the Transactions of the Pickwick Club, which the editor of these papers feels the highest pleasure in laying before his readers, as a proof of the careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination, with which his search among the multifarious documents confided to him has been conducted.”

(Chapter 1, Page 10)

The lengthy opening sentence of The Pickwick Papers both introduces the editor who narrates the story and highlights how that person views the Pickwick Club. The tongue-in-cheek, comically heightened language of the description establishes an atmosphere of ironic reverence, suggesting that this tale will present subjects of the utmost importance even though the story centers on circumstantial folly, lighthearted misadventures, and occasional mayhem. Additionally, this sentence introduces the novel’s structure as a fictionalization of the Pickwick Club’s curated records.

Quotation Mark Icon

“‘Such,’ thought Mr. Pickwick, ‘are the narrow views of those philosophers who, content with examining the things that lie before them, look not to the truths which are hidden beyond. As well might I be content to gaze on Goswell Street for ever, without one effort to penetrate to the hidden countries which on every side surround it.’”

(Chapter 2, Page 17)

This thought occurs to Pickwick before he takes off on the novel’s first voyage and encompasses the Pickwickian philosophy, revealing Pickwick’s eagerness to expand his mind through travel yet also highlighting the somewhat ironic nature of this desire given that he and his companions will travel only to the surrounding countryside.

Quotation Mark Icon

“‘Evidently a traveller in many countries, and a close observer of men and things,’ said Mr. Pickwick.”

(Chapter 2, Page 28)

Pickwick’s observation about his new traveling partner, Jingle, indicates just how well Jingle is able to fit in with the Pickwickians, even if it’s just for show. It establishes that the Pickwickian mindset is universally attainable and not limited to certain classes or social standings. This observation is ironic too, given that the friendship between Jingle and the Pickwickians won’t last long.