Tag Archives: Mr. Bumble

For the love of furniture

I’m still thinking about Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin in Part V, chapter 1.  I’m past the “black snake of wounded vanity” part and have moved on to a quote that reminded me of a character from a previous novel.

Luzhin is irritated.  He paid for his newlywed apartment (which he no longer needs) to be redecorated and the owner won’t let him break the contract, so he’s out the full amount.


       In the same way the upholsterers refused to return a single rouble of the instalment paid for the furniture purchased but not yet removed to the flat.
Am I to get married simply for the sake of the furniture?”

That last line reminded me someone.

Can you guess?

Do you remember Mr. Bumble?  The beadle in Oliver Twist?

Beadle Mr. Bumble did get married for the furniture, the silverware, and the hopes of a more prestigious position.  But marrying Mrs. Corney didn’t turn out quite as well as he hoped.

Ah, the good old days of workhouses and orphans.

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Posted by on September 2, 2012 in Crime and Punishment, Oliver Twist


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Merry Christmas, Mr. Bumble!

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!

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Posted by on December 25, 2011 in Oliver Twist, The Blog


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A Romantic Twist

Having just finished Pride and Prejudice, our first romantic classic, I hardly expected to find anything in Oliver Twist that would rival the hearts and butterflies of the love stories told by Austen, but once again Dicken’s surprises me.

The beadle, Mr. Bumble, calls upon the matron of the workhouse, Mrs. Corney, with a spark of longing growing in his breast. Now, one might be unsure if the longing is for her, or for the position that he would acquire by becoming her espoused husband, but either way the love language between the two of them would send any heart a flutter.

Just listen to the way Mr. Bumble uses Mrs. Corney’s lovely feline companions to flatter her.

“You have a cat, ma’am, I see, ” said Mr. Bumble, glancing at one, . . ., “and kittens too, I declare!”
“I am so fond of them, Mr. Bumble, you can’t think,”  replied the matron. . . .
“Very nice animals, ma’am,” replied Mr. Bumble, approvingly; “so very domestic.”
“Oh yes!” rejoined the matron, with enthusiasm; “so fond of their home too, that it’s quite a pleasure, I’m sure.”
“Mrs. Corney, ma’am,”  said Mr. Bumble, slowly, and marking the time with his teaspoon, “I mean to say this, ma’am; that any cat, or kitten, that could live with you, ma’am, and not be fond of its home, must be a ass, ma’am.”
“Oh, Mr. Bumble!” remonstrated Mrs. Corney.

Wait.  He doesn’t stop there.

“It’s of no use disguising facts, ma’am,”  said Mr. Bumble, slowly flourishing the teaspoon with a kind of amorous dignity which made him doubly impressive; “I would drown it myself, with pleasure.”

Did he really just say that?  Meeee-ooooow!

That right, Kitty, tell Mr. Bumble what you think of him and his amorous spoon wielding threats.


Posted by on December 17, 2011 in Oliver Twist


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A Compassionate Beadle?

In Chapter III Oliver escapes an apprenticeship to the chimney sweep.  Were you as surprised as I was?  Something actually happened in Oliver’s favor! 

Then in Chapter IV Beadle Bumble makes arrangements with the local funeral director, Mr. Sowerberry, to take Oliver on a trail basis.  On the walk to the Sowerberry home, Oliver is in tears.  Bumble sees the weeping as a sign of ingratitude about Oliver’s new position, but Oliver has a different reason for his sorrow..

“so lonely, sir!  So very lonely!” cried the child.  “everybody hates me.  Oh! sir, don’t, don’t pray be cross to me!”  The child beat his hand upon his heart; and looked in his companion’s face, with tears of real agony.

Mr. Bumble regarded Oliver’s piteous and helpless look, with some astonishment, for a few seconds; hemmed three or four times in a husky manner, and, after muttering something about “that trouble-some cough,” bid Oliver dry his eyes and be a good boy.  Then, once more taking his hand, he walked on with him in silence.

Trouble-some cough?  Is that like when my husband has “allergies” (air-quotes very much intended) during a touching movie?  Did our Un-Samaritan feel compassion for just a moment? 

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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Oliver Twist


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Really Twisted

Mr. Bumble, the beadle (a church official of sorts at the workhouse), is a self-righteous, odious man, who looks forward to beating children and who would like nothing better than to be rid of Oliver. Get this: on his jacket buttons is the seal of the Good Samaritan!


Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Oliver Twist


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