Study Guide

Our Mutual Friend Education

By Charles Dickens

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Folks in Britain in 1865 didn't have the same access to school that many people enjoy today. For that reason, education was a huge marker of social status, and it tended to determine all of your opportunities for the rest of your life.

If you weren't born with much money, your best shot at climbing the social ladder was to get the best education you could… kind of like today. In Our Mutual Friend, we see all kinds of examples of education's importance, but probably none more central than the Hexams—Lizzie, Charley, and Gaffer—for whom the issue of education is powerful enough to split up an entire family.

Questions About Education

  1. How does education split up the Hexam family? What division does it cause between Charley and Gaffer, or Charley and Lizzie?
  2. Why does Eugene Wrayburn offer to give Lizzie an education? Who else offers her the same thing?
  3. Is education as important today as it was in Dickens' time? Why or why not?

Chew on This

In Our Mutual Friend, we learn that education is the best possible way for a person to improve their life.

Our Mutual Friend shows us that education is good, but it can't make a bad person into a good one. People are either mean or kind in Dickens' eyes.

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