Our Mutual Friend
Authors: Dickens, Charles
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Synopsis: Our Mutual Friend is a satiric masterpiece about money. The last novel Dickens completed, and perhaps his most angry, it sounds all the great themes of his later work: the innocence and venality of the aspiring poor, the hollow pretensions of the nouveau riche, the unfailing power of wealth to corrupt everyone it touches. Among those caught up in the ruthless forces of change in Dickens's London are the archetypal innocent Noddy Boffin, who 'inherits' a dustheap where the trash of the rich is thrown; Silas Wegg, a grotesque, one-legged man with unlimited fantasies of grandeur and power; Mr. Veneering, Member of Parliament, whose house, furnishings, servants, carriage, and baby are all 'bran-new'; and Alfred and Sophronia Lammle, who marry one another because each wrongly believes the other is rich. The social themes of Our Mutual Friend--having to do with the treatment of the poor, education, representative government, even the inheritance laws--are informed and brought into coherence by the underlying presence of the Thames, signifying the perpetual flow of life into death, and acting as agent of retribution and regeneration too, as a kind of river god in fact, in a novel in which no other god is very present.