Peregrine Pickle Summary

  • Last updated on June 12, 2023

Title: Peregrine Pickle

Author: Tobias Smollett

Publish Date: 1751

Genre: Picaresque novel

Page Length: Approximately 840 pages


Peregrine Pickle, written by Tobias Smollett, is a picaresque novel that follows the life of a young man named Peregrine Pickle. The novel is set in the 18th century and is known for its satirical and comical elements. The book is divided into three parts, each of which contains a series of chapters that depict various occurrences from Peregrine's life.

Part One

The novel opens with Peregrine Pickle, the son of a wealthy gentleman, navigating his way through his adolescence, which is marked by his unruly behavior and his promiscuity. In one of the early chapters, Peregrine is sent to live with his uncle in London to be introduced to the upper-class society. However, life with his uncle is not easier, and Peregrine dislikes his uncle's strict lifestyle. He plans to ruin his uncle's reputation after his uncle scorns one of his love interests.

Throughout the first part, Peregrine's character is developed as a selfish and arrogant young man who often thinks only of himself. He is shown to be loyal to his friends, yet manipulative and deceitful. He consistently shows disdain for members of the different classes and keeps company with other wealthy young gentlemen who indulge in similar behaviors.

Part Two

In part two, Peregrine travels abroad with his companions, and they encounter numerous adventures, including a shipwreck, illness, and scandal. In France, Peregrine meets Emilia Gauntlet, a young woman of wealth whom he falls in love with. However, her father, who is not impressed with Peregrine's lifestyle, forbids their marriage and refuses to let them see each other. The rest of this part is focused on Peregrine’s attempts to win back Emilia under the guise of a Spanish nobleman. He exposes his real identity, eventually confesses his love to her, after which she returns his affections.

Part Three

Part three marks a change in both tone and style. The focus shifts from Peregrine's picaresque journey to a more serious character study. Peregrine's behavior as an adult has caught up with him, and he finds himself in debt and alone. Much of the final part is devoted to his redemption, as he tries to make amends for his past transgressions and find his place in life. He ultimately marries the woman he loves, Emilia, and grows into a mature and responsible adult.


Peregrine Pickle is the novel's protagonist, a young man born into a wealthy family whose behavior is marked by his arrogance, selfishness, and promiscuity.

Emilia Gauntlet is a young woman of wealth whom Peregrine encounters while abroad. She falls in love with Peregrine despite her father forbidding her from seeing him.

Godfrey Gauntlet, Emilia’s father, forbids Peregrine from seeing his daughter, seeing him as unworthy of her.

Tom Pipes, a former servant who is one of Peregrine's most loyal friends, often getting himself in trouble as he tries to help his friend.


One of the novel's primary themes is the corruptive power of wealth and the importance of being true to oneself. Peregrine's wealth and status have led him to live a life devoid of meaning, morality, and substance.

Another theme throughout the novel is that of redemption. Peregrine comes to realize the error of his ways and begins a journey of self-discovery.


Peregrine Pickle is an essential literary work that explores the timeless themes of redemption and the corruptive power of wealth. Through the novel's three different parts, the reader gets a complete picture of Peregrine's journey from arrogant and selfish to mature and responsible. Smollett’s witty and satirical writing style makes Peregrine Pickle an entertaining and thought-provoking read that remains relevant today.

Categories: Books