Study Guide

Our Mutual Friend Drugs and Alcohol

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Drugs and Alcohol

With that flourish, and seeming to have talked himself rather more drunk and much more ferocious than he had begun by being, Mr. Riderhood took up his pint pot and swaggered off to the taproom. (2.6.43)

It's no secret that alcohol can make a person chatty. In Riderhood's case, this means he talks more often and more loudly. This is all pretty consistent with his character, really, since the guy isn't known for his restraint or self-discipline.

The honest man who gained his living by the sweat of his brow remained in a state akin to stupefaction, until the footless glass and the unfinished bottle conveyed themselves into his mind. (9.12.165)

Riderhood is so used to having alcohol that his brain only snaps into action after he gives himself something to drink. Now that's what you call a chemical dependence.

This had a modest self-denying appearance; but it soon turned out that as, by reason of the impossibility of standing the glass upright while there was anything in it, it required to be emptied as soon as filled. (9.12.52)

Riderhood has a clever trick whenever he splits a bottle of booze with someone else. He specifically uses a type of glass that has no feet, meaning he can't set it on a table. This means that whenever someone fills his glass, he tends to empty it almost immediately and gets more of the bottle in the process.

The visitor first held the bottle against the light of the candle, and next examined the top of the cork. (9.12.84)

John Harmon has been drugged before, and he's not going to let it happen again. It's only after examining the cork on a bottle of alcohol that he's satisfied to drink it.

"If you'll give me something to quench my thirst first." (16.1.106)

It's not only drunks who want a drink of liquor now and then. Bradley Headstone tries to rest after a stressful day by asking Mr. Riderhood for a drink of gin. His logic is: how's a guy supposed to get to sleep without a tipple?

The bottle and jug were again produced, and he mixed a weak draught, and another, and drank from both in quick succession. (16.1.107)

Headstone likes alcohol as much as the next man. But unlike some of the serious drunks in this book, he mixes his alcohol weakly. He might be doing this on purpose to make Riderhood think he's drunker than he is. After all, Headstone has a lot to gain by tricking Riderhood.

[He] went out with two objects; firstly, to establish a claim he conceived himself to have upon any licensed victualler living, to be supplied with threepennyworth of rum for nothing. (18.9.39)

Jenny Wren's father doesn't just love liquor. He feels downright entitled to it. That's why he tends to wander the streets all day asking for booze money, even though he has a job where he could earn this money if he wanted.

This market of Covent Garden was quite out of the creature's line of road, but it had the attraction for him which it has for the worst of the solitary members of the drunken tribe. (18.9.40)

Jenny's father has a particular area where he likes to do his drinking, because this area seems like it was designed for men like himself—dudes who like to drink alone until they barely know where they are. He even considers himself to be part of a special "tribe" of drinkers who go to this area.

Of dozing women-drunkards especially, you shall come upon such specimens here. (18.9.40)

Most of this book only mentions male examples of alcoholism. But this line reminds us that there were plenty of female drunks in Dickens' time as well. The book doesn't tell us anything more about these women, though, like where they come from or what first drove them to alcohol.

Mr. Dolls, accepting the shilling, promptly laid it out in two threepennyworths of conspiracy against his life, and two threepennyworths of raging repentance. (18.9.42)

Young Blight is kind enough to give Mr. Dolls money for cab fare home, but the man promptly spends the money on alcohol. Or as Dickens like to call it "conspiracy against his life." Here, Dickens is reminding us that alcohol is a poison, which we remember even more when we find that Mr. Dolls ends up dying of alcoholism.

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