|Mr. Pecksniff and Old Martin Chuzzlewit
This month's Classics Challenge Prompt is to write about characters. I'm currently attempting to read Martin Chuzzlewit, one of Charles Dickens' lesser known novels. It wasn't my first choice for Dickens but one of my online groups is reading it and it was on the TBR shelf, so I decided to give it a shot.
I've read about 150 pages so far and unfortunately not much is happening -- I don't even know enough about any particular character to really write about, so I'll give a bit about each one, as well as I can remember. Dickens tends to throw a lot of different characters and situations at the reader in the first parts of his books; eventually, everything will tie up together somehow and all will be revealed. Well, sort of.
Right now there are a lot of unpleasant characters, and a lot of them are named Chuzzlewit. There are in fact two Martin Chuzzlewits in the story, Martin the elder and Martin the younger. Martin the elder is a cantankerous old man with a lot of money, and an incomplete will. He's traveling with a young woman Mary who is some kind of ward, when he appears to fall ill. Suddenly the relatives appear out of the woodwork, to kiss up and try and ingratiate themselves. They all show up at the inn where Martin is staying and start arguing amongst themselves. It's kind of like a contest to see which one is the most revolting and annoying.
Meanwhile, another Chuzzlewit shows up in the vicinity, unbeknownst to the other relatives. He's Martin the younger, a grandson who has fallen out of favor with Martin the elder. By a complete and utter coincidence -- lots of these in Dickens novels -- young Martin has just arrived in the village to study architecture with his cousin, Mr. Pecksniff. Like his name implies, Pecksniff is an annoying character, very full of himself, scheming, and hypocritical. He has two unmarried daughters and is hoping to marry one of them off to Martin. It also appears that he's going to get Martin to do all his work, then take all the credit. I anticipate lots of horrible behavior from him based on his name alone -- Dickens is brilliant at giving vile characters such appropriate names!
The character I like best so far is Tom Pinch, who works for the Pecksniffs. I'm not exactly sure what he does. He seems to be an all-around helper, definitely some sort of servant, and the Pecksniffs are very condescending to him. However, he's kind to young Martin and seems generally good-hearted. Because he's nice, I predict that something terrible will happen to him before the book is out.
This post probably doesn't exactly fit the parameters of this month's prompt -- it's taken Dickens so long to introduce all these characters and set the scene, and as much as I love him, he is so very awfully wordy. His descriptions are great and sometimes very funny, but doggone it, I really wish something would happen already!
Bloggers, have any of you read Martin Chuzzlewit? Does it get better? It's not terrible so far but I'm just not excited about it yet.