The Pickwick Papers By Charles Dickens Study Help Essay Questions

1. Show the stages of Mr. Pickwick's moral development.

2. What part does Jingle play in Mr. Pickwick's maturity? Mrs. Bardell? Dodson and Fogg? Fleet Prison? Nathaniel Winkle?

3. What part does Sam Weller play in Mr. Pickwick's growth as a character? Describe the stages of their relationship.

4. How does Dickens use various locales to define Mr. Pickwick's growth?

5. Trace Alfred Jingle's career. How does it parallel Mr. Pickwick's?

6. Do you feel that Dickens was justified in changing Jingle's character in the Fleet? Give your reasons.

7. Delineate various father-son relationships in the novel and show how they reflect on each other.

8. How does Dickens treat young women in this book? Middle-aged women?

9. Is Dickens successful in handling friendship? Romance? Explain his relative success or failure.

10. Show some of the major ways in which Dickens uses contrast.

11. How do the interpolated tales reflect the action of the novel? Take one of the tales to illustrate your answer.

12. Describe Dickens' prose style.

13. Take an episode, such as Mr. Pickwick's "proposal" to Mrs. Bardell (Chapter 12), and show some of its comic devices.

14. What is Dickens' attitude toward the legal profession?

15. What does Dingley Dell represent? How is it related to the rest of the novel?

16. Show the devices by which Dickens changes the mood of the novel during the Fleet Prison sequence.

17. How does Dickens restore the comic tone once the prison episode is finished?

18. What part does Bob Sawyer play in restoring the comic mood?

19. Discuss the loose time scheme of the novel. Why does Dickens speed up time?

20. Compare Mr. Pickwick to a picaresque hero like Tom Jones or Don Quixote.

21. Do you think this novel deserves the epithet "great"? Give your reasons, taking care to define the criteria of "greatness" in literature.

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By the end of the novel, Dickens proposes a viable solution to some of the social problems he addresses, like debtor's prison.


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