The Chuzzlewits are a family divided by money and selfishness; even young Martin, the eponymous hero, is arrogant and self-centered. He offends his grandfather by falling in love with the latter’s ward, Mary, and sets out to make his own fortune in life, traveling as far as America – which produces from Dickens a savage satire on a new world tainted with the vices of the old. Martin’s nature slowly changes through his bitter experience of life and his enduring love for Mary.
Martin Chuzzlewit is one of Dickens’ most humorous and satirical novels, and it contains two great comic creations: the hypocrite Pecksniff and the drunken nurse Sarah Gamp.
Neither Dickens's funniest work nor his most memorable, this one is still a treasure trove of shameless scoundrels and delicious melodrama. The subject is hypocrisy, and Pecksniff is its avatar, though the drunk nurse Sairy Gamp isn't far behind him. Sean Barrett's Pecksniff is the epitome of smarm, hilariously unrepentant even when cornered. Little mars the pleasure of Barrett's performance of crafty, old Martin Chuzzlewit himself. Chuzzlewit plays the gullible invalid for much of the story, querulous and difficult. The deep, full-throated virile-old-man voice Barrett switches to when he reveals his true nature is marvelous, like the tearing away of a curtain.
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