Jonas at the Alehouse
14.5 cm high by 9.2 cm wide
Dickens's Martin Chuzzlewit, Vol. 7 of The Charles Dickens Library Edition, Chapter 47, "Conclusion of the Enterprise of Mr. Jonas and his Friend," facing p. 768.
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Comedy and romance are supplements to the main action; the stage form most acceptable to Dickens in creating suspense is melodrama, and he uses it in this novel. [continued below]
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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And he was not sorry for what he had done. He was frightened when he thought of it — when did he not think of it! — but he was not sorry. He had had a terror and dread of the wood when he was in it; but being out of it, and having committed the crime, his fears were now diverted, strangely, to the dark room he had left shut up at home. He had a greater horror, infinitely greater, of that room than of the wood. Now that he was on his return to it, it seemed beyond comparison more dismal and more dreadful than the wood. His hideous secret was shut up in the room, and all its terrors were there; to his thinking it was not in the wood at all.
He walked on for ten miles; and then stopped at an ale-house for a coach, which he knew would pass through, on its way to London, before long; and which he also knew was not the coach he had travelled down by, for it came from another place. He sat down outside the door here, on a bench, beside a man who was smoking his pipe. Having called for some beer, and drunk, he offered it to this companion, who thanked him, and took a draught. He could not help thinking that, if the man had known all, he might scarcely have relished drinking out of the same cup with him.
"A fine night, master!"said this person. "And a rare sunset."
"I didn't see it," was his hasty answer.
"Didn't see it?" returned the man.
"How the devil could I see it, if I was asleep?"
"Asleep! Aye, aye."The man appeared surprised by his unexpected irritability, and saying no more, smoked his pipe in silence. They had not sat very long, when there was a knocking within.
"What's that?"cried Jonas.
"Can't say, I'm sure,"replied the man.— Chapter 47, "Conclusion of the Enterprise of Mr. Jonas and his Friend," p. 748.
The chief plot threadin this novel is the growing rift between the large-scale swindler Montague Tigg (who has created himself as "Tigg Montague," Director of the Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Life Insurance Company) and Jonas Chuzzlewit, whose involvement in the investment scheme has been conditioned by Tigg's knowing about Jonas's having poisoned his father, Anthony. With the other plots moving towards resolution, Dickens now introduces the murder of the financier from the perspective from and with a deep appreciation of the psychology of the murderer himself With the other plots moving towards resolution, Dickens now introduces the murder of the financier from the perspective from and with a deep appreciation of the psychology of the murderer himself.
In the original series of monthly illustrations,Hablot Knight Browne does not deal directly with the murder of Montague Tigg, perhaps because Dickens's treatment of the plan, its execution, and aftermath is from Jonas's perspective, and is laden with psychological insight that does not particularly lend itself to illustration.Dickens's strategy of showing the psychological damage that the deed does to the murderer is reminiscent of his handling the death of Nancy by Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist. Rather (probably at Dickens's instigation), Phiz jumps from Mr. Jonas Exhibits his Presence of Mind (Chapter 42, April 1844), depicting Jonas's initial attempt on Montague Tigg's life, directly to a pair of comic illustrations for events in Chapter 46, Mr. Moddle is Led to the Contemplation of his Destiny and Mrs. Gamp Makes Tea (May 1844), leaving the melodramatic material of the forty-fifth chapter unrealised. In the 1872 Household Edition, Fred Barnard avoids showing the murder directly, focussing instead on Jonas's immediate reaction in Done!, in which Jonas, having already murdered his blackmailer, is shown "parting the leaves and branches on the other side of the woods, near where the path emerged again." Barnard leaves the actual murder scene to the reader's imagination, electing instead to realise shows the highly dramatic moment when Jonas, momentarily elated by having acted on his atavistic impulse, bursts forth from the Darwinian jungle, tearing through the young boughs so violently "that he cast into the air a shower of fragments."
Just as in the final numbers of Oliver Twist the murderer of Nancy, the brutal Bill Sikes, becomes unnerved by the casual talk of a mountebank in the Seven Bells at Hatfield, The Flight of Sikes after the Murder (Chapter 48), so here Jonas (wearing the linen smock-frock of a peasant) seems far more apprehensive than in his last appearance, On the Road to Salisbury (Chapter 43). Although his drinking companion is not the least affected by the sudden noise from within the rural alehouse with its vines picturesquely climbing the latticed window of the old, wooden porch, Jonas looks left, as if expecting pursuit. This is a far cry from the Satanic figure who confidently snarls at Montague Tigg in Jonas Chuzzlewit and Montagu Tigg (Chapter 38). However, by the time that the reader encounters this illustration, positioned in the following chapter, Martin, Mark, and John Westlock are already putting the pieces of Jonas's secret together with the help of Lewsome, who provided Jonas with the poison to use on his father, Anthony.
Relevant Illustrations, 1843-1867
Left: Hablot Knight Browne's realisation of Jonas's first attempt on Montague's life, Mr. Jonas Exhibits his Presence of Mind (Chapter 42, April 1844). Centre: Phiz's other light scene for these chapters featuring the readers' favourite comedienne, Sairey Gamp, Mrs. Gamp Makes Tea(Chapter 46, May 1844). Right: Sol Eytinge,Jr.'s realisation of the comic thread of Moddle, reluctantly engaged to Charity Pecksniff, and his landlady, Mrs. Todgers, Mrs. Todgers and Mr. Moddle (1867). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Above: Fred Barnard's realisation of the scene in which, having murdered Tigg, Jonas, disguised as a peasant, bursts from the Wiltshire woods, Done! (1872). [Clickon the image to enlarge it.]
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Last modified 6February 2016