This the first picture in Charles Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit and like all the illustrations in Dickens’s books it tells you a lot about the characters in it.
The artist is Hablot K. Browne otherwise known as Phiz.
The drawing shows Mr. Pecksniff and his two daughters Mercy and Charity sitting in front of the fire and Pecksniff’s lodger Tom Pinch standing by the door. Out of these characters Pecksniff stands out as the villain for a number of reasons.
Firstly, he is sitting with his nose in the air, completely ignoring Tom Pinch; and his daughters do likewise, due to his upbringing of them .
Pecksniff’s pride is further emphasized by the fact that he not only has a portrait of himself in the most prominent position above the fire but he also has a bust of himself on display.
The picture offers a slight clue that Charity is the more selfish of the two sisters because she bears more of a physical resemblance to her father than her sister does. Mercy on the hand looks nothing like Mr. Pecksniff and also shows some humility because she is content with sitting on a footstool rather than a proper chair.
By reading the text immediately preceding the picture other evil aspects of Pecksniff’s character are revealed.
For one thing you discover that the pictures of buildings that line the walls and bear Pecksniff’s name were not actually designed by him but rather by his pupils whose work he has subsequently stolen.
The picture also shows Pecksniff’s most pronounced evil trait: hypocrisy. This is shown because the preceding page describes Pecksniff telling his daughters how terrible it is that Tom Pinch has been drinking and how he will be forced to think less of Mr. Pinch because of it however while he is saying this the picture shows that he himself has a glass of brandy on the table behind him.
This picture also shows that Tom pinch is a genuinely humble character because of the way he is stooping and looking genuinely sorry for having interrupted.
This picture first appeared in 1844 when then book was published as a novel for the first time. (It had previously been a serial)