Study Guide

Our Mutual Friend Drugs and Alcohol

By Charles Dickens

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Drugs and Alcohol

It's tough to find a 19th-century book from England that doesn't mention alcohol abuse at some point. More specifically, these books almost always have a character (usually a man) that has ruined his life with drinking. Our Mutual Friend is no exception—Jenny's dad, for one, is perma-shmammered.

Make no mistake, the Brits had a strong moral disgust with drunks back in the day, and you can hardly blame them. It's hard to see an entire household ruined just because the dad has decided he'd like to spend more time in the pub than with his family.

Questions About Drugs and Alcohol

  1. In this book, does Dickens come across as a teetotaler (no booze ever), or does he suggest that alcohol is fine in moderation? Where's the evidence for either?
  2. Which character in this book dies from booze? How does his alcoholism define his character for us?
  3. How does Riderhood make sure he drinks more from a liquor bottle than John Harmon? What does it tell us about his character?
  4. How often does a discussion between two male characters begin with the offering of drinks? Is it the same with female characters? Why or why not?

Chew on This

In Our Mutual Friend, we find that alcohol is just an irresponsible escape from life's tougher predicaments.

Our Mutual Friend shows us that alcohol isn't so bad. It's just that drunks give it a bad name.

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