Little Dorrit Book Summaries

Little Dorrit Book Summaries

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Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#1 May 2, 2009
Book 1:Poverty
Chapter 1: Sun and Shadow
On a very hot day in Marseilles, France, two prisoners are in a cell in the prison there. One of these is a accused murderer, Monsieur Rigaud. The second is a Italian national, John Baptist Cavalletto, who seems to be innocent. Food is brought to them by the jailer and his child, and later, Rigaud is taken to trial, leaving Cavalletto alone.
Chapter 2:Fellow Travellers
Also set at Marseilles. Several English citizens are in quarantine there. They include Mr. and Mrs.Meagles and their daughter "Pet", Arthur Clennam (on his way home from China), Tattycoram (Pet's maid) and others. Mr.Meagles encourages Arthur to go to London. Arthur first states his case- of being in a life firmly controlled by his parents. When they are released from quarantine, they go to a hotel, where they eat breakfast. The Meagles family stay at the hotel- where Tattycoram has a temper tantrum. The Meagles family say their goodbyes and part with Mr.Clennam, who will be headed to London.

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#2 May 2, 2009
Chapter 3: Home
Sunday night in London. The scene begins as church bells are ringing. Mr.Clennam is now in a London coffee house. He decides to go home, and reflects on his past. When he arrives at his home, he reflects on the dilapidated old house and is shown in by a old servant, Mr.Flintwinch. Arthur soon visits a moment with his mother, who is as stiff and stern as ever. His mother is virtually paralyzed. Arthur is then shown to a bedroom, and Affery (a maid) makes up a bed, and Arthur goes to bed.
Chapter 4:Mrs.Flintwinch Has a Dream
States from the beginning it actually happened. Affery awoke and went downstairs, and noticed a light in a little room. She looked in between the hinges of the door and saw Mr.Flintwinch awake, with a twin, which was asleep. The twin awakes, and takes this iron box outside, with Mr.Flintwinch's supervision. Affery now is gone upstairs, and is later caught by Mr.Flintwinch (her husband) who later accuses her of sleepwalking.

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#3 May 2, 2009
Chapter 5: Family Affairs
It is now Monday morning. Mrs.Clennam is wheeled to her desk and she starts work. Arthur arrives and greets her, then he sits nearby. He starts talking business with her. The business arrangements (to her) are all right. Arthur thinks that the family business is not doing what it should and he should leave. Arthur asks about what his dad might have done (in regard to the other people he would have dealt with) and this makes her angry. Flintwinch is called in. He tries to settle things- and takes her side. Arthur first meets and gets acquainted with Little Dorrit.
"Hammer and tongs already you two?"-Mr.Flintwinch
Chapter 6: The Father of the Marshalsea
First describes the Marshalsea (a long-closed prison in Southwark district of London for debtors and others). Then, mentions Mr.Dorrit's arrival at the prison, and he has boy, age 3, and girl, age 2, arriving with his wife the next day, and another child on the way. Soon, the baby is born (a girl), and the doctor (who is also a debtor) delivers her. A woman catches flies and attends the mother at the birth. When the baby girl is eight years old, the wife goes away and later dies. Mr.Dorrit earns his title of "The Father of the Marshalsea" by being the oldest resident of the prison.

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#4 May 2, 2009
Chapter 7: The Child of the Marshalsea
The debtors helped look after this girl born at the prison. The turnkey (or jailer) also looked after her. Soon, she learns there is a life beyond the prison. When she turned 16, she began to look after other people, first her dad, then her brother and sister. She also made efforts to better herself (by learning crafts). Her sister and her uncle get set up in theatre- the sister as a dancer and the uncle as a musician (he played the clarinet).
Chapter 8: The Lock
Mr.Clennam's first visit to the Marshalsea. He is introduced to the Dorrit family by the uncle (why he is there is to find out more about Little Dorrit). Mr.Clennam is so wrapped up in arranging things with Amy (Little Dorrit) that he is late getting to the tgate, and is locked in. Tip (Amy's brother) guides him to the Snuggery (a little tavern,etc. within the prison) where a bed is made up for him, but it is difficult for Mr. Clennam to sleep there.

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#5 May 4, 2009
Chapter 9: Little Mother
Mr.Clennam wakes up early and walked about until he was able to go out. When he gets out, he first goes to where the uncle lives, where he has meeting with Amy, and with her, walks the streets a bit. He learns how she got connected with Mrs.Clennam (a Plornish advertised for her,from which Mrs.Clennam learned of her services) He also asks her if there is any chance of getting her dad out of the prison. Also a meeting with Amy's friend Maggy, who calls Amy "little mother". He leaves both girls at the prison gate.
Chapter 10: Concerning the Whole Science of Government
Describes the Circumlocution government office, whose motto could well be, "How not to do it." Introduces the Barnacle family, who literally runs this office. Arthur Clennam has business here to try to get Mr.Dorrit freed. Referred to the Barnacle house, then referred back to the office. Mr. Clennam soon finds out the hopeless situation within the office (on account of the muddle of the business done there). Meet with Mr.Meagles and his friend Mr.Doyce.

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#6 May 6, 2009
Chapter 11:Let Loose
In Chalons-sur-Saone, a village in France, the two prisoners in the first chapter had been set free. One of them arrives at a inn here, gets a meal and overhears disturbing messages. This prisoner is the one they are talking about, who is now traveling under a alias. He goes to bed, and meets up with the other prisoner, who flees from him.
Chapter 12: Bleeding Heart Yard
First, a brief description of Bleeding Heart Yard, its location and history, and how it got its name. Mr.Meagles, Mr.Doyce and Mr.Clennam arrive in the Yard. Mr.Clennam goes to the home of the Plornish family (one of the Yard residents). He has visit with them, concerning Dorrits. What is discussed mostly concerning how Little Dorrit got with Mrs.Clennam- and releasing Tip- which involves a trip to a horse-dealer to arrange this. Also stated is the financial situation of the occupants of the Yard.

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#7 May 6, 2009
Chapter 13: Patriarchal
Mr.Clennam remembered his old sweetheart, Flora Casby, and makes a visit to the Casby home. He is shown in and reacquaints himself with Mr.Casby. Mr.Casby is known, uniquely, as a Patriarch. Mr. Clennam mentions Little Dorrit (Mr.Casby was mentioned as a figure in getting Little Dorrit connected with Mrs. Clennam) but gets far from anywhere. Mr. Clennam soon reunited with Flora and meets the unique clerk Mr. Pancks. Flora found to be talkative and too anxious about the past.
Chapter 14: Little Dorrit's Party
Mr. Clennam is at the rooms he has rented in Covent Garden. Suddenly, Little Dorrit arrives, followed by Maggy. They had been to the theatre to see Little Dorrit's sister, pretending to be at a party. Mr. Clennam is soon concerned with their comfort- as it is very late and his fire is dying. Little Dorrit and Maggy soon leave, and they stay the night at a old church (St.George's in Southwark, next door to the Marshalsea) and Mr.Clennam distantly follows, staying carefully out of their sight.

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#8 May 7, 2009
Chapter 15:Mrs.Flintwinch Has Another Dream
First mentioned is the deadness and shadows within Mrs.Clennam's house. Mrs.Flintwinch has another dream- during the winter. She is in the kitchen, making preparations for tea. She is frightened by a sound behind her (described as rustling, then steps, like someone going upstairs), and she notes that something similar happened last week. She ran up the stairs to find someone, and comes upon Mr.Flintwinch and Mrs.Clennam arguing about Arthur's dad. Soon, it is realized Flintwinch is now taking Arthur's side in his feelings about his dad (see Chapter 5) Also concern about Little Dorrit-what does Mrs.Clennam intend to do with her? Arthur comes briefly- but Affery shoos him away.
Chapter 16: Nobody's Weakness
Mr.Clennam walks to the Meagles home in Twickenham. He soon meets up with Daniel Doyce, and learns his history and that he is in need of a partner. Mr.Clennam is then shown about the Meagles property and invited in for dinner. Mr.Clennam decided to hold no interest in Pet. Mr.Clennam asks Mr.Meagles for advice concerning Mr.Doyce.

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#9 May 8, 2009
Chapter 17: Nobody's Rival
Mr.Clennam meets with Henry Gowan, Pet's suitor. Mr.Meagles is not too comfortable with Mr.Gowan. Also a expected guests- one of the Barnacles, one Mr.Clennam had trouble with at the Circumlocution Office. When this guest arrives, he acts very disturbingly on sight of Mr.Clennam, and causes him to act very clumsily at dinner. Even without loving Pet, life is miserable.
Chapter 18: Little Dorrit's Lover
Little Dorrit had attentions from quite a few at the Marshalsea. The one who seemed to have the most attentions for her was the turnkey's son, John Chivery. A brief description of him and his family. Also is mention of the Dorrits' opinion of John's attention, which are not good. Amy also is upset by this attention. John is upset when Amy seems to spurn his attentions for her.

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#10 May 9, 2009
Chapter 19:The Father of the Marshalsea in two or three relations
Mr.Dorrit and his brother are visiting among Mr.Dorrit's fellow-prisoners. The brother, Frederick, is free, but is with Mr.Dorrit today. Mr.Dorrit lets Frederick out, then he meets with Mr.Chivery a while before returning to his room. He notes that Mr.Chivery seems not as cheerful as he once was. Mr.Dorrit is soon disturbed himself, and pities his condition.
Chapter 20: Moving in Society
Tip now has a useful occupation- but still has connections to the Marshalsea, which he cannot seem to shed. Amy goes to see her sister- but when she finds her, gets far from a good welcome. Also meeting with Frederick, but briefly. The sisters go to Mrs.Merdle's home. We learn that Mrs.Merdle has interest in Fanny. Fanny also thinks Amy is something of a weakling, but quickly apologizes, surprisingly.

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#11 May 9, 2009
Chapter 21: Mr.Merdle's Complaint
Mr.Merdle is a very rich man- and is highly esteemed. Gives a description of his character and a few details about his family. At a party at the Merdle home (where very important characters attended) Mr.Merdle arrives late, and seems disturbed. Mr.Merdle thinks he is ill, but his doctor (who was present) thinks nothing is wrong with him.
Chapter 22:A Puzzle
Mr.Dorrit does not think that much of Mr.Clennam. He allows Mr.Clennam to visit him, but seems concerned about him. Mr.Chivery asks Mr.Clennam to go visit his wife, who informs him of her son's love for Little Dorrit, and asks for his help. Then meeting with Little Dorrit, and then Maggy, with letters for Mr.Clennam. Mr.Clennam sends answers back by Maggy.

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#12 May 11, 2009
Chapter 23: Machinery in Motion
Mr.Meagles pays a visit to Mr.Clennam, and then Mr.Clennam examines Mr.Doyce's business while Mr.Doyce is away, and finds things to his liking. When Mr.Doyce returns, things are arranged, and Mr.Clennam becomes Mr.Doyce's partner. Mr.Clennam's work is the business records (accounting). Mr.Clennam gets a surprising visit from Flora and Mr.F's Aunt. Visit little more than employment arrangements for Little Dorrit. Pancks also comes and asks questions about Dorrits.
Chapter 24: Fortune-Telling
Little Dorrit gets a visit from Mr.Plornish, who informs her of the employment at the Casby home. Little Dorrit goes there, and meets with Flora. Flora wants to talk, while Little Dorrit wants to work. Flora is very concerned about Amy's physical condition. Flora takes Amy to dinner, and afterward Pancks has unusual business with Amy. Later, back at the prison, Amy tells Maggy a story (in the manner of a fairy tale).

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#13 May 12, 2009
Chapter 25: Conspirators and Others
Describes first the Rugg family, at whose home Pancks lived. Pancks soon is getting acquainted with the Chivery family, especially John- which he invites home to a unique dinner party. Then, Pancks involves himself at Bleeding Heart Yard. Basically about the life that Pancks led. Briefly mentions Cavalletto in his efforts in getting used to his new life in England.
Chapter 26: Nobody's State of Mind
First deals with the problems Mr.Clennam would have to deal with if Mr.Clennam had decided to love Pet. Doyce visits with Mr.Clennam after he had been visiting with the Meagles family. The discussion is about Pet and Mr.Gowan. More discussion of the first item. Mr.Gowan later visits Mr.Clennam- and Mr.Clennam is invited to dinner at Mrs.Gowan's house. Current events of 1850's referred to indirectly here. Mr.Clennam not comfortable among high class, also uncomfortable when Mrs.Gowan talks with him about Pet and Mr.Gowan's relationship.

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#14 May 13, 2009
Chapter 27: Five-and-Twenty
Notes that Pancks is collecting information on the Dorrits, and that Mr.Clennam is worried that the reason for this might involve his mother. After a visit with Mr.Dorrit, Mr.Clennam comes home and finds Mr.Meagles there. He finds out Tattycoram is missing. Mr.Meagles explains the situation, then both of them go looking for the girl. They find where the girl is- but she refuses to come home.
Chapter 28:Nobody's Disappearance
Mr.Meagles made several attempts to get Tattycoram back, but all failed. Mr.Doyce and Mr.Clennam go to the Meagles house for the weekend. Mr.Clennam meets with Pet on the way and they talk while walking to the house. He learns a wedding is in the plans- and gives the bride his good wishes. Pet asks him to look after her dad. They arrive at the house and meet with Meagles and Doyce. Later when the others are gone, Clennam tosses the roses Pet gave him into a nearby river, and watches them float away.

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#15 May 14, 2009
Chapter 29:Mrs.Flintwinch Goes on Dreaming
Time seems to stand still in Mrs.Clennam's house. Affery still in nervous, fearful state. Flintwinch is rather busy. Affery thinks that Flintwinch and Mrs.Clennam getting money. Affery thought little of by these two. Pancks had made a brief visit there, and Little Dorrit is finishing up her work. Mrs.Clennam asks Little Dorrit about her family, and a bit about Pancks. Mrs.Clennam rather friendly to Little Dorrit. Affery briefly locked out- but mysterious character gets her back in- but she is immediately sent for Flintwinch.
Chapter 30: The Word of a Gentleman
On the arrival of Flintwinch, stranger is surprised on sight of him. Flintwinch shakes his wife, the stranger comes to Affery's rescue. Affery goes upstairs- and it is revealed the stranger is the ex-prisoner (alias) Blandois. He has business with Flintwinch. The stranger is shown a place to stay, and later meets with Mrs.Clennam- and examined old Mr.Clennam's (Arthur's dad) watch. He looks through the house on his way out. The stranger leaves the next day, but is expected to come back.

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#16 May 15, 2009
Chapter 31: Spirit
We meet Mrs.Plornish's dad John Edward Nandy-who lives in a workhouse, pitied by those who knew him, a good singer, and pensioner to Mr.Dorrit. On his birthday, he is visiting with the Dorrits, after spending some time with the Plornish family. Fanny thinks that Little Dorrit looking after Mr.Nandy is disgraceful. Later, Mr.Clennam comes in- and with Maggy helping with dinner, a party is held. Mr.Dorrit feels sorry for Nandy (his physical condition). Tip arrives and shows anger at Mr.Clennam because of the asked-for advancement declined by that gentleman. Mr.Dorrit reprimands his son.
Chapter 32: More Fortune-Telling
Now only Mr.Clennam, Amy and Maggy in Mr.Dorrit's room. Mr.Clennam is concerned that he rarely sees Amy. Amy seems changed- and she notices a change of manner in Mr.Clennam also. Mr.Clennam does not know what pain he is causing Little Dorrit by saying he is "past love",(he has no realization that she loves him.) Soon, Pancks arrives, and is in a very good mood. He drags Mr.Clennam downstairs, and Mr.Clennam finds out Pancks has good news.

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#17 May 16, 2009
Chapter 33:Mrs.Merdle's Complaint
Mrs.Gowan reluctantly agrees to her son's marriage. She makes it like she was the main obstacle to the marriage- instead of Mr.Meagles. Mrs.Merdle is a friend of Mrs.Gowan- and gets a visit from Mrs.Gowan. Mrs.Gowan asks Mrs.Merdle for her opinion of the marriage. Financial matters are of concern. Mrs.Merdle assures Mrs.Gowan that she should be honored in her part in the matter. Mrs.Merdle's complaint is her husband's emotional condition.
Chapter 34: A Shoal of Barnacles
The wedding date has been set- and Barnacles to excess have been invited. The extensivity of the Barnacle family is stated- as there being one clinging to every land under the British crown. Mrs.Gowan is why these Barnacles were invited (as she is kin to them). Mr.Clennam was invited to the wedding, but Doyce asked not to be! Mr.Gowan tells Mr.Clennam that he's a disappointed man, and why (financial status). Mr.Clennam is worried about his relationship with Mr.Gowan. Pet and Mr.Gowan married- and marriage performed by a Barnacle!

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#18 May 16, 2009
Chapter 35: What was behind Mr.Pancks on Little Dorrit's Hand
Pancks had found Mr.Dorrit is heir to a unclaimed farm worth a great deal of money, providing him freedom from the Marshalsea. Pancks had habit of gathering names, from which he had come to discover this. Pancks revealed this to Mr.Clennam surprisingly when Mr.Clennam was not yet out of bed! Mr.Clennam dressed quickly and went to tell Little Dorrit- who is at the Casby home. Little Dorrit faints- but Flora soon revives her. Mr.Dorrit gets the news- and cries- and offers freely rewards for all involved.
Chapter 36: The Marshalsea Becomes an Orphan
Mr.Dorrit is anxious to go- and is upset because of the delays. A lot of business had to be done before Mr.Dorrit could leave the prison. He, though, was generous in meeting requests (in amounts of money) that were asked of him. A farewell party is also held. Many were present to see Mr.Dorrit and his family leave. States that this happened at noon. Maggy helps carry the family's things. Pancks, Rugg and Casby present. Just when the family gets in the carriage, Amy is discovered missing. Fanny complains. Amy is brought out (after fainting) in the arms of Mr.Clennam.
End of Book One

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#19 May 18, 2009
Book Two-Riches
Chapter 1: Fellow Travellers
Now in the Swiss Alps- at the Great St.Bernard Pass along the banks of Geneva Lake. Everything full of grapes just harvested, as it is fall. In evening, the St.Bernard convent welcomes visitors on mules. These visitors include the Dorrit family, their servants, Pet and Mr.Gowan, and surprisingly, Blandois. They eat, then Little Dorrit checks up on Pet (she is not feeling well) before bed. Notes the Dorrits are headed to Italy.
Chapter 2: Mrs.General
Mrs.General is one of the Dorrit family's servants, a coach-driver (or like one) and a widow. Without much of a inheritance, she decided to teach young ladies manners. Her position with the Dorrits is chaperone to the girls. Mentions how she got connected with the Dorrits. She is considered "a member of the family". Dignified, stiff and unruffled woman.

Since: Jul 08

Waynesboro, VA

#20 May 19, 2009
Chapter 3: On the Road
The Dorrit family and their servants leave the Swiss convent, and we find out that Fanny and Tip can't stand Mr.Clennam. They arrive in Martigny and meet up with their carriages. Mr.Dorrit gets angry that two persons are in one of his rooms at the inn there. Dorrit threatens to leave. These two persons are Mrs.Merdle and Sparkler. The Dorrits arrive in Italy- and are soon in Venice.
Chapter 4: A Letter from Little Dorrit
Addressed to Mr.Clennam.(In 1988 movie, I noticed the address as Arthur Clennam, Esq. Bleeding Heart Yard, London, England.) It says when and where Little Dorrit met with Mrs. Gowan (Pet) and Amy's reflections of her. She asks that no one write her. Also has messages for Maggy and others. Then, she states how the family is doing, and states that she is slow in adapting to her new life. Also noticed that memories of the past is evident.

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