Glenna Matthews, Nos. XIV-XV, Second Book: Riches, Chapters 12-18

Glenna Matthews

Glenna Matthews

Glenna Matthews is a semi-retired historian. She no longer teaches in a university, but she still gives public lectures and writes. Her work has been in U.S. women’s history and California history. But she’s also a big fan of Charles Dickens!

Chapters 12-14 Illustrations

The Patriotic Conference. Illustration by Phiz.

The Patriotic Conference. Illustration by Phiz.

Mr. Baptist is supposed to have seen something. Illustration by Phiz.

Mr. Baptist is supposed to have seen something. Illustration by Phiz.

Chapters 15-18 Illustrations

Musing and dreaming. Illustration by Phiz.

Musing and dreaming. Illustration by Phiz.

Reception of an old friend. Illustration by Phiz.

Reception of an old friend. Illustration by Phiz.


  1. Thank you Ms. Glenna Matthews for giving us Seniors your amazing point of view of the novel so far. I completely agree with you that the Merdles are like the celebrities of our current society. They are covering up their very empty and shallow personality with their riches and Bosom. I also agree with you that even the children are deeply under the impression of it. I think that even strongly connects to todays society. The kids and even the poor/working class idolizes these as you said fake gods because they are rich and high in society. One question I do have is why call Mrs.Merdle The Bosom and not something materialistic like The Jewel?

  2. Thank you so much for this amazing video. I totally agree how this riches and Bosom situation relates to today’s society. Which, I honestly find sad, because it’s crazy how even the children while saying their alphabet think of Mr. Needle. I can just imagine their thoughts of just money and being rich or a millionaire. In reality money isn’t everything, and isn’t what a kid learning his alphabet should be thinking of. Finally, I also feel the same way as you about Mr. Merdle, his attitude is too proudly.

  3. Thank you so much for elaborating, I didnt really recognize the satire of The Merdles being a representation of celebrities and how they are the stars of the bleeding heart yard due to their vast riches. Knowing that Mrs. Merdle is known as the Bosom, why would Dickens refer her to this in the novel?

  4. Thanks Ms, Matthews for that great explanation about who the Merdles are and what they represent in this novel. We know that the Merdles are well known among other people, being excessively rich and worshiped wherever they go. Also, that it’s not only adults but children, who are learning basic concept such as ABC’S, but starting with the letter “M”, showing that the Merdles are influencing the next generation. This can relate to modern day society in how we appreciate celebrities, only increasing their success by acknowledging them. My main question is. are the Merdles really rich or are they pretending to be rich?

  5. Thank you for more explanation about chapter 12-18. Its true how we can think of this of riches and bosom can relate to today society. Mr. Merdle was consider satire because everywhere there was a way you can remember him in many types of way. For example, teaching the alphabet to kids, he had been a person you can consider a celebrity.

  6. Thank you Ms. Matthews for your point of you for chapters 12-18. I completely agree that the Merdles are only powerful because of their wealth. I find it very interetsing how you described them as celebrities. The thing I do have a question is why the kids were learning the alphabet by their name and their representation of false gods. Your explantion was very helpful and giving me a better understandment of who the Merdles really are.

  7. Thank you so much for your insight Ms. Matthews, it is so very appreciated. I liked how you drew parallels between the world of the novel to the world we live in today. This makes me want to continue to look for other aspects of live that Dickens challenges. We saw a bit of this in the first book, but now with the Merdles, these challenges are more noticeable in a way. I wonder why Dickens chooses to critique high members of society through these few characters? I also wonder how these actions resonated with readers in the late 1800s? Thank you so much again for being a valued reading buddy!

  8. Thank you for providing us with this insight. I think that it’s weird to see how people try to impress and be in the Merdle’s favor when they really haven’t done much to deserve that amount of respect. I like that you connect it to today’s society by comparing the Merdle’s to today’s celebrities. It is strange and dumb to see how people worship people because of their wealth and status, but unfortunately things have always been that way. It would at least some more sense if those who were worshiped had worked to gain that respect, but we don’t see that happen much in the book or in society. I do agree with you that the Merdle’s are essentially satire of celebrity culture.
    Question: Why is it that people worship those with money, even if half of the time they don’t know what they’re doing? Why do we feel the need to admire and gain the respect of those with money? Why do you think this satire Dickens pointed out in his book is continued to be seen in today’s society?

  9. Hello! Thank You for taking the time to explain and elaborate your point of view on these chapters. I’d like to add on and agree with the fact that many celebrities today, are “famous” for false reasons, but in this case, the celebrity is Mr. Merdle. Mr. Merdle is a fraud so he should not be praised. The society in the book exaggerate because Mr. Merdle is considered for having “millions”. You also stated they were “worshipping false gods”, which something that caught my attention as well. Question: Do you believe there is a character in the book that is “famous ” for the right reasons?

  10. First off, i just wanted to say thank you so much for taking part in our journey of reading this novel. Wow I see how Mr. Merdle does relate to our society. It’s true that I know Mr. Merdle, and I also wish I did not know him. That’s what our generation looks up to and thrives so hard to achieve. This game and fortune from nothing. I enjoy the way you connected the book to our modern society and I can see how Dickens is able to portray a life problem even to his date. My question is, does this also mean that other characters could fit to our society?

  11. Thank you for the explanation, Glenna. I really like how you mention that the Merdles are like celebrities of today because of how wealthy they are. I also liked when you mention how the children learn the “m” sound because of Mr. Merdle and also because of million, which represents how rich he is. A question that I have is, why did Dickens choose to critique the higher class?

  12. Thank you Ms. Matthews for taking your time to explain chapters 12-14. I enjoyed the brief description you made of Mr. Merdle and Mrs. Merdle and their character. I like the comparison you made of Mr.Merdle with a modern day celebrity. One question I have Is it possible for someone who wasn’t wealthy to be praised as the Merdles were during that time?

  13. Thank you for the explanation on chapter 12-18 in book two Ms. Matthews! When you began comparing Mr. Merdle to modern day celebrities, I couldn’t help but think you were right. They use their wealth and power to identify themselves rather than their personalities. Do you think that this modern day celebrity characteristic has made Mr. Merdle easier to understand as a person for people reading Little Dorrit today?

  14. Thank you for the explanation, Ms. Mathews. I completely agree that Dickens is using Merdle to criticize celebrity worship, something that still happens today. When Mr. Merdle and Dorrit are talking he takes Merdles advice because he is a man of the time. This goes along with the criticism of celebrity worship because he takes his word as if it were God’s message because he knows what he’s talking about. When speaking of business affairs with Merdle I think there’s another criticism on how the government works and how easy it is to buy it. How does society in 19 century London parallel society in 21st century Los Angeles in terms of celebrity worship?

  15. Thank you very much Ms. Matthews for this informative and interesting explanation on Mr. and Mrs. Merdle. I agree with you, with the fact that Mr. Merdle is treated as our modern celebrities are. Anything that Mr. Merdles says is correct because he is wealthy which gives him power, and now in our time anything that celebrities do is considered correct or “cool”. Another thing that I noticed is how Dickens critiques the government and how it works because most people will go corrupt for money. One question that I had was, if Mr. Merdle’s empire were to fall how would this affect the society?

  16. Thank you very much for this video! I really like how you brought up the people who aren’t really talked about and discussed as much, such as the people in the Bleeding Heart, and The Merdles. I do agree that most of the celebrities that there is now is just famous just because they’re famous and people follow after them because they have money. Also, thank you for mentioning how the people in the Bleeding Heart actually follows behind The Merdles because it shows how more of the characters are connected together. A question I have for you is, would you actually respect and worship an individual just because of their money?

  17. I always thought the Merdles were interesting characters considering they were not equally as high is status, Mr. Merdle being rich without having done anything as well as famous for not doing much. I love the satire of celebrity culture through them though, it wasn’t as obvious to me before so thank you so much for opening my eyes to that.. It is a great way to look at the way we still do that in our current society. Little children will recognize celebrities before they recognize basic concepts. I wonder, why is was that Dickens decided to do this through the Merdles specifically? And how often is Dickens going to continue to create parallels between our modern society to the one in the 1800s?

  18. Thank you so much Ms. Mathews for your explanation on these chapters. I really enjoyed your discussion on minor characters, who are not really talked upon, however realizing that they are actually interesting and important to the novel as a whole. The idea of famous people being famous nowadays just because of their money was really intriguing to tie to Mr. Merdle as in some way, it continues to happen in today’s society still. Once again, thank you for your insight on Little Dorrit!

  19. Thank you for your share on this part of the book. I really like how you you explained the Meredles, especially Mr. Merdle. I would understand why you don’t wish to have known his character just because he is so rich. How he also is practically being worshiped.

  20. The Merdles are wealthy and worshiped wherever they go. Even the children, who are learning basic material such as the ABC’S, have themselves starting with the letter “m” showing that the Merdles are influencers to the next generations. I agree with you, with the fact that Mr. Merdle is treated as our modern celebrities are. Anything that Mr. Merdles says is correct because he is wealthy which gives him power, and now in our time anything that celebrities do is okay or correct because of their money.

    1). Should one automatically respect another because of their wealth ?

  21. Thank you for this explanation! I agree with the view of the Merdles being like celebrities. I thought it was very interesting how the kids were learning their alphabets with M for Merdle. I think that this is how Dickens shows the power of their status. I agree with how the Merdles are portrayed and how Dickens really made this to talk about society. I wonder what the significance of the suicide in the end means? I also wonder why Dickens chose the Merdles. Was there a specific reason?

  22. Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this section. Especially regarding Mr. Merdle. I’ve always found it so interesting that he married an aristocrat considering he gained his wealth from work and not namesake himself. It makes him seem so out of place until you realize he’s basically the embodiment of how wealth spoils the society. After all, he was only known for his immense wealth. It makes me wonder if anyone in the society is truly happy. Do they really have a sense of self worth without money?

  23. Thank you so much Ms. Glenna Matthews. I like how you compared Mr. Merdle to a modern celebrity. i agree with you on that because he really is treated like a modern celebrity. I also liked that you said that children are learning the letter “m” sound because of Mr. Merdle and also because of million. A question that I have is, Why do we praise and treat the ones with money different?

  24. Thank You, Ms. Matthews, for taking the time to contribute to our reading with this commercial. It is interesting how you explained the connection between Little Dorrit and current times. The Merdle connection was my favorite because it is extremely relevant to celebrity culture in our modern society and how it is satirical in the way that even the children are using his name to learn the alphabet. Do you believe any other aspects of the book connect to modern times?

  25. Thank you, Ms. Matthews, for elaborating on chapters 12-18. As I watched your video, I couldn’t help but agree with you when you connected today’s society and celebrity culture to Mr. Merdle. Mr. Merdle is praised because of his wealth and I believe that is the case in today’s society where celebrities are being considered “famous” because of their richness and wealth. Also, when the kids are mentioned about learning the alphabet with the letter beginning with the letter “M”, I believe Mr. Merdle’s wealth creates a form of power that gives the impression that because of his richness, people have to look up to him and admire him. My question is, as we read more into the book, will we come across more connections with society in the 1800’s to our society now?

  26. Thank you so much Ms. Matthews! I really enjoyed your contribution to our understanding of the novel. I liked the parallelism found between Little Dorrit times to our society nowadays. I agree that celebrities are famous based on wealth or nontransparent reasons. Lastly, I found kids beginning to learn their alphabet with the letter M really interesting. Once again, your contribution is truly appreciated. One question I have is why does society praise and worship false celebrities and what impact do you think is created from the parallelism to then and now?

  27. Hello Glenna,
    Thank you for taking the time to clear things up for us. It was interesting how you mentioned that Dicken is speaking to us today in our society when he talks about Mr. Merdle being Famous. It’s crazy to think that people look up to Mr. Merdle eventhought he hasn’t done much except the fact that he is rich. The people in bleeding heart yard think Mr. Merdle is special, even the children learning their alphabet imphasize M- money and merdle. Overall I wonder why, people look up to Merdle, even thought he hasn’t accomplish anything?

  28. Wow, you guys are really getting it as far as I can tell. What fun to read these comments! Btw, I think that Dickens refers to Mrs. Merdle as “the Bosom” because she’s essentially what we now call a trophy wife, on hand for display purposes.

  29. Thank you for the explanation! The way that you compared the Merdles to celebrities really caught my attention. Even the children were being influenced by the Merdles when learning the alphabet starting with “M” for Merdles. I feel like this is the way that Dickens shows the way that social classes are structured and the way that they can be praised. My question is should one always praise someone for their wealth? and does their wealth and the way that they are praised lead to Mr. Merdle committing suicide?

  30. The Merdles are shown to be empty. When Mr. Merdle goes bust, he has nothing. And Dickens is showing us that it’s very foolish to overvalue wealth unconnected to good character and good values Or so it seems to me!

  31. Ms. Matthews, thank you for further explaining these chapters and key points! I do agree with you that there is satire in the way of celebrity culture use throughout the book. This type of satire has the elements of exaggeration because we see how the Merdles are popular and represent the riches past normal bounds. It also made me think of how the Merdles can be represented in such a way that is portrayed as picture perfect (since children learn alphabet with M for Merdle) when they have Tattycoram as a half maid/half daughter.

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