Today I finished the last few pages of Martin Chuzzlewit, and I had to smile. Both because it’s a satisfying ending to a great story of human selfishness in its many forms, but also because of the way in which you wrap things up. I get the feeling that you knew exactly where you wanted everyone to end up, and were so impatient to tie it all with a neat bow that, among other plot devices, you stuffed as many characters into a room as possible so that they, like us, bear witness to the consequences of their actions.
And boy, does Martin senior ever dole out justice with assembly line efficiency: you and you: marry, you: dead, you: happy, you: tavern, you: humiliated (ooh, Pecksniff’s a tough nut to crack!). Oh! Remember Chevy Slime ( how could you ever forget that name)? He’s a policeman, of all things, arriving on stage to arrest his relative and winge a bit, and then disappearing back into the wings. Good god, I hear you writing furiously, let’s just get the damned thing over with already! As if a character-stuffed room wasn’t enough, we then have to squeeze in a proposal – done! And then let’s rush over to Mrs. Todger’s boarding house for yet another wedding and deal with the Miss Pecksniffs (and a resurrection, no less).
And just when we think everyone is accounted for, who should wander down the street but the unfortunate couple from the States, who may have lost all their children to Eden but whose future will undoubtedly be brighter thanks to Mark’s kindness. Is everyone dealt with now? Holy crap, what a finale! All we need now is a rousing musical number with showgirls and a giraffe and we can take this on the road!
This grand excess might be less satisfying if anyone got less than they deserved. As it is, I can go to bed tonight in the snug assurance that the good have ended happily and the bad unhappily. All’s right with your world, Mr. D, in fiction if nowhere else. And all jesting aside, it’s been a great journey.
And now a short break, before I start taking your friendship for granted, or OD on Dickensian style…. But know that I remain,