Mr. Bumble, the beadle – remember him? Back in the very beginning of the book? He was so mean to poor Oliver, abusing his position of authority time and time again. He was just a jerk – a character you loved to hate. Maybe you even felt sorry for Mrs. Corney when Mr. Bumble began to express an interest in her money and property and thus started flirting in hopes of entering her good graces. It’s amusing to watch their relationship develop in Chapters 23 and 27. Mr. B. proposes a “joining of hearts and housekeepings.” She acquiesces and calls him an “irresistible duck” and a “dove.” Mr. Bumble doesn’t strike me as either a duck or a dove. Mrs. Corney – you don’t know what you are getting into!
Now we get to Chapter 37. Mr. Bumble and the new Mrs. Bumble have set up housekeeping. It is so funny to see Mr. Bumble get a bit of what’s coming to him. Mrs. Corney is, apparently, a rather strong woman, and Mr. Bumble comes across as, well, hen-pecked. Although occasionally she tries to get her way by tears, she figures out that Mr. Bumble’s “heart is waterproof.” Not to be outdone, she resorts to screaming, ridicule, “clasping him tightly around the throat with one hand (and)…inflict(ing) a shower of blows dealt with singular vigour and dexterity upon (his head) with the other,” scratching, tearing his hair, and pouring a bowl of soap suds over his head!
Not that I advocate marital abuses such as these, but, oh, it felt good to see Mr. Bumble, the coward at heart, who abused so many boys, get a little abuse back and contemplate a life of future abuse as well. Enjoy those presents, Mr. Bumble! Merry Christmas!