Study Guide

The Veneerings in Our Mutual Friend

By Charles Dickens

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The Veneerings

The Veneerings are so two-dimensional they might as well be made of cardboard. As Dickens tells us early in the book,

Mr. and Mrs. Veneering were brand-new people in a brand-new house in a brand-new quarter of London. (1.2.1)

The constant mention of the Veneerings' newness shows us how ignorant they are of upper-class British traditions. What the Veneerings don't realize is that their money will never buy them the respect of people whose families have been in the upper class for generations. As one person remarks,

[The] fun of it is that nobody knows who these Veneerings are, and that they know nobody, and that they have a house out of the Tales of the Genji, and give dinners out of the Arabian Nights. (6.3.52)

The Veneerings have no clue how much people make fun of them behind their backs because of their tacky house and silly manners, and Dickens uses them mostly as a punching bag in his criticism of upper-class British society.

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