The Baron Of Grogzwig By Charles Dickens

A castle similar to the one in The Baron of Grogzwig

The Baron of Grogzwig by Charles Dickens is a fantastic ghost story written in 1839 and appears in Chapter 6 of the third Dickens novel Nicholas Nickleby, published from 1838 to 1839.

The Baron Of Grogzwig

Baron Von Koëldwethout was a young baron living in Grogzwig, Germany. Charles Dickens depicted the Baron in the following way: “He was a fine swarthy fellow, with dark hair and large moustachios, who rode a-hunting in clothes of Lincoln green, with russet boots on his feet, and a bugle slung over his shoulder, like the guard of a long stage.” The Baron of Grogzwig was conducting a merry life in the company of his jovial crew of twenty-four servants, drinking Rhine wine every night “till they fell under the table, and then had the bottles on the floor, and called for pipes.” Besides drinking and testing, his favourite pleasure was hunting boars and bears.

The Weariness Of Baron’s Life

With time, the Baron became weary of his monotonous life and sought new excitements and pleasures. He decided to marry “the fair daughter” of Baron Von Swilllenhausen. The damsel accepted the proposal to secure her father’s peace. Hence, the two households of Koëldwethout and Swilllenhausen became united. Baroness Von Koëldwethout acquired total control of her husband’s life, who did not practice the old feasting, hunting, and revelry hobbies. After many years, they had thirteen children, the Grogzwig’s coffers ran low, and the Baron was in debt; hence his mood became gloomy, and he felt miserable.

The Baron Of Grogzwig And The Genius

Determined to die, the Baron of Grogzwig isolated himself in a vaulted room with dark shining wood walls, and while he was enjoying his last wine and pipe, the Genius of Despair and Suicide appeared at his sight. From this moment, the tone of the novel becomes satirical. Charles Dickens expresses a bit of essential wisdom and a piece of advice to his readers: “If ever they become hipped and melancholy from similar causes (as very many men do), they look at both sides of the question, applying a magnifying glass to the best one; and if they still feel tempted to retire without leave, that they smoke a large pipe and drink a full bottle first, and profit by the laudable example of the baron of Grogzwig.” Indeed, no matter how life makes a person struggle and suffer, there is always a way to find a resolution and overcome the sense of despair. It is never too late to start a new life.

The Supernatural Elements And The Drinking Habit

It is not the first time that in a novel by Dickens, the supernatural elements and the act of drinking are related closely. Other short ghost stories with such features are The Ghosts Of The Mail, The Queer Chair and The Goblins Who Stole A Sexton. In all these novels, the main characters see eerie apparitions of ghosts, spirits and goblins after intoxicating themselves by drinking a considerable amount of alcoholic drinks. The supernatural encounters take place through the act of drinking as a way to relieve distress and anxiety. In the Victorian Era, drinking was a feature of masculinity and a way men expressed their virility and ruggedness. The ghostly entities have the positive function of redirecting the characters’ life more in conformity with the protagonists’ wishes and expectations. Moreover, the magical creatures represent a connection between the subconscious and the consciousness of the central figures of these ghost stories.

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