Mr. Jingle, in chapter 8, is walking in the garden when he hears the shout of the fat boy to his mistress. The fat boy and the old lady begin to bicker about various women and which one had been "a kissin' and a huggin'" with the men. It turns out that the girl who was having the fun is the old woman's daughter, Rachael.

He had observation enough to see, that his off-hand manner was by no means disagreeable to the fair object of his attack; and he had more than a strong suspicion that she possessed that most desirable of all requisites, a small independence. The imperative necessity of ousting his rival by some means or other, flashed quickly upon him, and he immediately resolved to adopt certain proceeding tending to that end and object, without a moment's delay. Fielding tells us that man is fire, and woman tow, and the Prince of Darkness sets a light to 'em Mr. Jingle knew that young men, to spinster aunts, are as lighted gas to gunpowder, and he determined to essay the effect of an explosion without loss of time.


1. According to this quotation, independence is a desirable quality. This is also true in Jane Eyre, Alice in Wonderland, and Phantastes. Is this desirable due to the fact that we never truly achieve independence or because independence is a part of everyone's fantasy?

2. Does Dickens's reference to Fielding tell us that he believes men and women cannot interact or have relationships with one another without them resulting in "fire?"

3. Is Dickens contradicting himself when Mr. Jingle determines that young men to spinster aunts are like lighted gas to gunpowder? Or is he saying that even though things will "blow up," we should still pursue our desires?

Last Modified 10 February 2003