Sunday, September 1, 2013

184 Quiz Answer

Answer: One of Charles Dickens's best-known characters, Wilkins Micawber is a melodramatic, basically kind-hearted and rather foolish gentleman, a friend of young David Copperfield.

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "H" is for History)

Here’s this week’s Berownial quiz question.

In my study of history, one institution that always fascinated me was the debtors’ prison.

This setup, a jail for folks who can’t pay their debts, has been around since ancient times.  In 19th-century England, it was a big deal.  It shows how something quite illogical, something that makes little sense, can stay in existence for centuries.

I mean, look at it this way.  Time-travel with me back to about 1850; good Queen Victoria is on the throne, which is quite appropriate since it was the Victorian era.

Let’s say that in London there’s a chap who is having a rough time, financially.  His credit card is maxed out, etc., and he doesn’t know where his next tuppence is coming from.  He is, in short, a debtor.

So in he goes, into the lockup.  What’s illogical, of course, is that while he was outside he could at least work to pay off his debt; inside he can do nothing but sit there.  So he does, sometimes for years.

To top things off, he is charged for his room and board while he is in the cooler – and of course he can’t pay for that either.

As a humanitarian gesture the authorities would at times allow the families to join the debtors, so you’d have a father, the missus, and several little kiddies all crammed into one small cell.

The writer Charles Dickens knew all about this system.  His father, who had the same last name, was arrested and sent to debtors’ prison when his son was twelve years old.  The disgusting aspect of these jails is often described in Dickens’s novels.

All of which brings me to one of my favorite fictional characters.  I think many of us have met him in real life.  He’s the one who is great with rhetoric; he’ll stand there and orate about the state of the country and its future, and he’s eager to tell of the projects he’s working on that are going to make wads of dough, but he’s never been able to hold a steady job or make a tolerable living.  He’s always trying to borrow money or figuring out ways to avoid creditors.

But, funny thing is, I sort of like the guy; he’s entertaining and he doesn't pout - he somehow he manages to stay good-humored.  (I have to admit I want him to stay out of debtors’ prison.)

In addition, he never gives up hoping.  He assures his wife: “Something will turn up.” 

What’s his name?

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings.)

41 comments:

Cressida de Nova said...

Aha...my husband's favourite Dickens character also...David Copperfield ,Wilkins Micawber.

Altonian said...

This will be Mr. Wilkins Micawber, from 'David Copperfield'.

Berowne said...

Cressida de Nova has started us off with the correct answer.

Roger Owen Green said...

It's W.C. Fields! OK, it's not. It's that David Copperfield character, Mr. Micawber.

New York Erratic said...

I eventually cheated and Googled it. :-(

But there's a lot of characters that fit that description, and you never said the character was from a Dickens novel! ;-)

Berowne said...

Altonian, Roger Owen Green and New York Erratic have all provided us with the right answer. (But, N Y Erratic, you seem to know the answer but you didn't give us the guy's actual name.)

New York Erratic said...

Micawber, but I Googled it.

Doctor FTSE said...

I think this is Wilkins Mikawber, forever an optimist from Dickens's "David Copperfield."

Kodjo Deynoo said...

I do not know the guys name, but I like knowing the brief history of Charles Dickens and what his father went through

Kathe W. said...

Berowne- I look forward to your quiz every Sunday! So my guess today is ....Mr Micawber?
Have a fun week!

Jinksy said...

Mr Micawber it is, and I must say, I adopt his philosophy, for something always does 'turn up' - even if its only a 'turn up for the books!' as we say. Hehehe!
But, and here's a thing...when you left a comment on Alias Jinksy, did you push the enter button umpty nine times? LOL Your comment has a mile long blank below it on my blogpage, so it's either a Blogger Gremlin, or a twitchy Berowne mouse finger?! Has me flummoxed...*smiles*

George S Batty said...

Barack Obama

oldegg said...

This sounds like the optimistic Micawber in David Copperfield.

Berowne said...

Old egg, Jinksy, Kathe W and Doc FTSE have all provided us with the right answer.

Jinksy said...

Bother! My cunning plan won't work, 'cos you have crafty comment moderation set! Hehehe!
Oh well, I had fun trying...














Berowne said...

To Jinksy: I don't know what caused that "mile-long" blank space among the posted comments on my blog last week. A Blogger glitch? Hope it doesn't happen again. Please don't duplicate it.

kaykuala said...

It's Wilkins Micawber, I should think!

Hank

Berowne said...

Another "winner": kaykuala has the right answer. Who's next?

Cad said...

Me- Mr Micawber!

Jinksy said...

Sorry! But at least I proved my theory.
The blank space occurs when one scrolls down after writing a comment, so that the comment box appears blank again before one clicks on 'Publish'. QED

Berowne said...

Cad has courageously stepped up with the correct answer; congrats.

Berowne said...

I appreciate your help with these blank spaces that show up in my comments file (another one, above, showed up yesterday). If anyone else has a suggestion as to why I get these blank spaces in my comments file, please let me know. I guess I'm not much of a techie.

Lyn said...

Knew I had something in common with Dickens...I too have the same last name as my father!
Micawber?

Frankie Jay said...

Was going to say Oscar Wilde before I re-read it and realised it was a fictional character! So going for William Dorrit from Little Dorrit.

Leslie: said...

Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman?

Reader Wil said...

Hi Mr. Berowne! I think it is Mr.Wilkins Micawber, the cheerful landlord of David Copperfield.
Have a great week.
Wil, ABCW Team.

Carver said...

That always seemed like such a bizarre not to mention tragic historical system (debtor's prison). Carver, ABC Wed. Team

Hildred said...

That would be Mr. Wilkins Micawber I guess.

Berowne said...

Two more with the right answer: Hildred and Reader Wil. Who's next?

MERYL JAFFE, PhD - parent, psychologist, teacher, author... said...

Who is..Wilkins Micawber?

I really enjoyed this one, by the way!!!

Berowne said...

Meryl Jaffe, PhD, has just checked in with the correct answer.

The Blog of Bee said...

I was sure I wrote Mr Micawber once on here!

uberrhund said...

This is the ever cheerful, forward looking Wilkins Micawber for the classic David Copperfield.
You are right about that persona being someone we all know!

Sheilagh Lee said...

I keep thinking of cousin Eddie in the Vacation movies.

ds said...

I'm thinking Mister Micawber? (I like him)

Berowne said...

The right answer has just come in from Bee's Blog, uberrhund and ds.

Little Nell said...

Well it's Micawber, but Dickens has other characters of course who find themeselves in this sorry state, though not all were as optimistic!

Berowne said...

Little Nell, whose name is quite appropriate this week, has also given us the correct answer.

Adam Everhard said...

Something equally illogical in modern times is the exorbitant non-sufficient funds fee. If a person doesn't have the money in their account, charging them $35 as a penalty is ridiculous. Why not simply deny the payment?

Wayne Pitchko said...

way too hard for this old guy

Little Nell said...

I'm a Dickens fan as you probably know. Second only to Shakespeare. I was brought up on both by my Mum.

 
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