Summary and Analysis
Chapters 23-25 - (Volume II, Chapters 4-6)
In contrast to Mrs. Pocket with her upper-class concerns and useless trivia is Wemmick, who is trying to support himself and his father on a meager income. Struggling to get by, he is, out of necessity, very interested in any "portable property" he can acquire. He is not greedy, but is realistic about his finances. Dickens shows that Wemmick is a creative and sensitive man who is stuck in the drudgery and soul-killing job of a law clerk. He has no choice because of his financial needs, so to keep from being emotionally crushed by the crime he has to deal with every day, Wemmick survives by keeping his home and office lives completely separate.
The characterizations emphasized here are Wemmick's "post-office mouth," a sure sign he is in his "London" personality, and the comparison of Bentley Drummle to Orlick — Drummle is a higher-class Orlick, both surly in temperament and always creeping in the shadows.
mount to the Woolsack or roof himself in with a mitre this reference is to Mr. Matthew Pocket's possible career choices when he was young—he could have become either a lawyer or clergyman. As a lawyer he could aspire to become Lord Chancellor of England and sit upon the Woolsack in the House of Lords. As a clergyman he could hope to become a bishop and wear a mitre (the British spelling of miter, which is the peaked hat worn by bishops).
taken Time by the forelock seize the opportunity and act. The reference is Greek, from the philosopher Thales of Miletus (around 624-546 BC).
Grinder a private tutor who prepares students for their examinations.
dull blades a blade is an easy-going playboy. Dull would indicate that this student is not very smart.
serpentine something that twists or coils like a snake.
a Dutch doll a wooden doll with jointed legs, made in Germany.
Dying Gladiator Mr. Pocket, overwhelmed by the chaos in his house, drops down onto the sofa in this pose. It refers to "The Dying Gaul," a Roman copy of a Greek statue of a dying gladiator lying down propped up on one arm.
The cast was made in Newgate This term refers to the plaster face casts in Jaggers office, which were the death masks of two of his clients made right after they were hanged. These masks were often made after executions and sold to willing buyers.
gentlemanly Cove a gentlemanly chap or man.
Bounceable Here, Wemmick is talking to one of the plaster face casts and saying what a boaster and liar that client was.
Britannia metal cheap silverware made of tin and antimony and marked with an image of Britannia.
gold repeater Jaggers' watch. It repeats, meaning it chimes the last hour or quarter hour when a lever is pressed and thus it can be checked in the dark. Its use was not as important after sulfur matches became common.
bower a place enclosed by overhanging boughs of trees or by vines on a trellis.
tobacco-stoppers used to push tobacco into the bowl of a pipe.
a brazen bijou, a roasting-jack the first is a brass ring that holds the second, a device to turn a joint of meat on a spit over an open fire.