Study Guide

Our Mutual Friend Society and Class

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Society and Class

Mr. Podsnap was well to do, and stood very high in Mr. Podsnap's opinion. (4.11.1)

If you're looking for an example of an upper-class snob whom you should avoid being like, look no further than Mr. Podsnap. This dude is a rich jerk who thinks that the world revolves around him and that he has a direct line to capital "T" Truth on any subject he talks about.

Thus happily acquainted with his own merit and importance, Mr. Podsnap settled that whatever he put behind him he put out of existence. (4.11.2)

As far as the rich Mr. Podsnap is concerned, anything he doesn't think about isn't worthwhile. Worse yet, anything he's dismissed no longer exists in his eyes. He's just about as self-absorbed as a human being can get.

"My marriage being thus solemnly recognized at the family altar, I have no further trouble on that score." (9.16.95)

Eugene Wrayburn has a tough time explaining to his father how he has married a poor girl like Lizzie Hexam. But what's done is done, and the dad needs to accept it one way or another.

"The knowledge shall be brought home to you that such a ridiculous affair is condemned by the Voice of Society." (9.17.17)

Lady Tippins likes to think that she has a direct line on "The Voice of Society." In other words, she thinks she has the right to judge other people because her values conform to the general views of society.

"Never. But she had some employment in a paper mill. I believe." General sensation repeated. (9.17.27)

When people at a dinner party learn that Eugene Wrayburn has married a working-class girl, they nearly faint. Yup, these people are pretty judgmental when it comes to issues of social class. Little do they know that Dickens has spent this entire book making them look like entitled fools.

"For Bella is ambitious, Mr. Rokesmith, and I think I may predict will marry fortune." (10.14.50)

Mr. Wilfer wants Mr. Rokesmith to be clear about his daughter Bella. The girl cares a whole lot about what people think of her, and that means she'll probably get married to someone rich. As the book goes on, though, we see that this might not be the real Bella after all.

Howbeit, Twemlow doth at length invest himself with collar and cravat and wristbands to his knuckles, and goeth forth to breakfast. (10.16.3)

Mr. Twemlow is a nice enough guy, but he's also super insecure. That's why he always dresses up to the nines, even for a casual breakfast. He just does it because he's worried about what people might think of him otherwise.

"A hackney coachman may admire me," remarked Bella, with a touch of her mother's loftiness. (11.4.98)

When Mr. Wilfer tells Bella he thinks Mr. Rokesmith is in love with her, she replies that anyone can be in love with her. It doesn't mean they're worthy of her. At this point in the book, Bella is still pretty full of herself and hard to sympathize with.

"Before my eyes he grows suspicious, capricious, hard, tyrannical, unjust." (11.4.125)

Bella begins the book being pretty selfish and status-oriented. But once she sees the kind Mr. Boffin becoming cruel and paranoid, she blames his money and his newfound status for his sudden dirtbag behavior. This moment causes a change in Bella, and from this point, she cares more about people's character than she does about their social status.

"Nonsense! Recollect we are not our old selves. Recollect, we must scrunch or be scrunched. Recollect, we must hold our own. Recollect, money makes money." (12.5.144)

Mr. Boffin proudly declares that he is no longer his old self. He's gone from being a servant to being a rich master, and he plans on acting the part of rich master instead of being a naïve softie like he used to be.

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