Thursday, June 24, 2021

The con man tells the "gull" how the con works in Charles Dickens's "Martin Chuzzlewit"

In Charles Dickens's "Martin Chuzzlewit", when Tigg Montague, as he calls himself, tries to get Mr. Pecksniff interested in investing in the Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Assurance Company, he explains how the company works:  "There is nothing like building our fortune on the weaknesses of mankind. [...] I give you my honour that WE do it." The company will generate profits "as long as there [are] gulls upon the wing." Montague explicitly explains to Pecksniff that the company defrauds people. That is, the con man tells the mark how the con works, and counts on the "gull" identifying with him rather than with one of the "weak" people being defrauded. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 24 June 2021)
Forty-ninth illustration by Fred Barnard for Dickens's Martin Chuzzlewit (Chapter XLIV).

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