Critical Essays Comedy in Pickwick Papers


The comedy of Pickwick Papers is more than the use of humorous techniques, although it includes these elements. Comedy is essentially an attitude toward the world, a way of selecting and viewing human behavior. The funniness of comedy lies as much in the author's point of view as it does in the actions he depicts.

One large element of Dickens' point of view is irreverence for certain established institutions. The law, the military, the medical, the evangelistic, the socialities, the press, and politics all receive satirical treatment. Other groups are caricatured as well: women over thirty, pompous provincials, and poseurs of every kind. Dickens' attitude is that of a humane skeptic. He sees through all types of deception and pretense, whether it is personal or institutional. Except when the deception is parasitic and corrupt, as it is in the law, Dickens enjoys pretense for its own sake, as part of the theater of life. Little people trying to puff themselves up is the eternal stuff of which comedy is made.