54 pages 1 hour read

Charles Dickens

Pickwick Papers

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1836

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Symbols & Motifs

Stories, Songs, and Poems

Throughout the novel, stories, songs, poems, and other interludes are persistent motifs. Many of the stories are told at inns, pubs, and other locations by characters who don’t reappear or have little significance to the larger story. Some poems and songs are short (such as the Dingley Dell clergyman’s poem “The Ivy Green” or Wardle’s “A Christmas Carol”), while others take up almost entire chapters (like Mrs. Wardle’s “The Goblin and the Sexton” and Dismal Jemmy’s “The Stroller’s Tale”). Sometimes these stories, particularly those told around Christmas, are timely or thematically relevant to the novel, but most have little to nothing to do with it.

The interludes in The Pickwick Papers have less to do with contributing to the larger story than with continuing the entertainment of The Pickwick Papers. First published as a serial, the novel is itself episodic, containing short stories, yet the additional stories further this piecemeal structure and emphasize the format of the novel as a collection of papers and stories. Like everything else in the novel, stories, poems, and songs all come from notes made by the Pickwickians during their travels and show what the members thought was most important to document during their adventures.