Chuffey

Chuffey

old clerk. [Br. Lit.: Martin Chuzzlewit]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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"[T]his crime," he cries to Chuffey, "began with me" (733).
Most uncanny among the blind characters in the novel is Chuffey, an individual so forgetful of himself in the service of his long-time master Anthony Chuzzlewit that the people around him forget him too.
Chuffey is this observer, I argue: while appearing to perceive nothing, he has in fact passively observed and absorbed everything in the story transpiring around him.
He describes her education as an exercise in abstraction, involving the replacement of "analogical" signs ("such as the waving motion of [a] hand for the motion of a boat") with "purely arbitrary ones" (41-42), and remarks upon her intellectual development in terms similar to those used to describe Chuffey. Laura is said to have rested in a "mechanical" state until "the truth began to flash upon her: her intellect began to work" and, all at once, "her countenance lighted up with a human expression: it was no longer a dog, or parrot: it was an immortal spirit, eagerly seizing upon a new link of union with other spirits!" (34).
Chuffey's response to Anthony's lamented loss of sight early in the book reads like a formal philosophy: "I grow blinder," says the master, and the faithful clerk replies, "That's a good sign!