| Quote #1
It is a pathetic sight and a striking example of the complexity introduced into the emotions by a high state of civilisation - the sight of a fashionably dressed female in grief. [...] In the enlightened child of civilisation the abandonment characteristic of grief is checked and varied in the subtlest manner [...] (1.7.17)
The phony nature of civilization and society is highlighted and mocked here, as the narrator ridicules the way people check their emotions in order to be "civilized."
| Quote #2
Law was a sort of cock-fight in which it was the business of injured honesty to get a game bird with the best pluck and the strongest spurs. (2.2.10)
Law often functions as symbol for modern Victorian society as a whole. The seedy side of law is highlighted with the comparison to "cock-fighting." Law may act like it’s civilized, but it very often is not here.
| Quote #3
The first step towards getting on in the world was a chill, dusty, noisy affair [...] (3.7.6)
Tom discovers the less pleasant aspects of being an adult here as he joins the workforce for the first time. It is interesting that the words used to describe adult life, "dusty" and "noisy" are referenced again when the narrator compares Tom’s outer struggles with Maggie’s inner struggles. Check out the "Gender" section to see this.