Our Mutual Friend

by Charles Dickens

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As The Last And Most Sophisticated Novel By Charles Dickens, This Is A Truly Grandiose Book. Download Our Mutual Friend, READ online FREE or buy:

Book the First. THE CUP AND THE LIP

Book the Second. BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Book the Third. A LONG LANE

Book the Fourth. A TURNING

This is the last full-length novel that the legendary Charles Dickens managed to complete. At the same time, it’s definitely one of the master’s most complex and complicated books. As always, Dickens did a terrific job of mixing cold social analysis with rough satire.

The main theme in Our Mutual Friend is money and everything it can do to and for a man/woman on this planet. As far as the most talked-about novels of the XIX century go, this one’s right there among the champions. Sophisticated, questionable and controversial, it’s equally heart-wrenching, heart-warming, moving and educational.

Our Mutual Friend Summary

The story begins with the cops finding the dead body of a young lad named John. He returned to the capital of the UK to receive his grand inheritance. His dad’s will obligated him to take Bella as his wife. She was a gorgeous girl, but they’ve never actually met each other.

According to the will, after the boy’s tragic death, the Boffins, a family from the working class, received all that money. However, as it soon turns out, John didn’t die and it wasn’t his body in the Thames. He just changed his second name and went to work for the now-rich family as just a regular secretary.

The reason? To get a chance to really know Bella, the Boffins, and learn of people’s attitude towards his “death”. The fans of Dickens already know that resurrection plays a major role in his novels. Same goes for Our Mutual Friend – John is reborn from the water.

Working-Class People With High-Class Money

The misanthropic skinflint, John’s biological father, never really had a good relationship with his son. He basically hated people and tried to stay as far away from them as he possibly could. The Boffins were the only ones who he actually liked and cherished.

After they pulled his body from the water, a strange young lad came in to identify him and then went away without leaving a single trace behind. And, by the terms of the carefully-made will, everything the rich man had went to the Boffins, his loyal servants.

They were kind-hearted, naive folks. Compassion was a big part of who they are. Thus, they spent it on themselves and shared some of the riches with their neighbors. Next, they invited Bella, the devastated bride of the drowned heir, to live with them under the same roof. The man and wife treated her as their daughter and made her feel like at home.

John’s Path Towards Happiness

Rokesmith, in turn, offered his services as a secretary and required no salary. As mentioned above, he used this opportunity to learn whatever he could about the family that his late father trusted so much. Mr. Wegg, a leery individual, persuaded Mr. Boffin to leave the hood and move to a bigger, better house.

He took advantage of his caring personality and practically took over their old home, hoping to find something of great value in the things left by Mr. Harmon. Slowly, but steadily, John, who went by the name of Rokesmith, fell for Bella, the girl he was supposed to marry. However, she rejected him and claimed that she’ll only agree to marry a man for money.

Kindness Turned To Cruelty

At the same time, Mr. Boffin, the once loving and caring man with a pure heart, turned into a miser, a corrupted individual. Furthermore, he started to treat John with disrespect and cruelty. When Bella became a witness to this, she stood up for the secretary. Soon, they tied the knot and started to live together.

Yes, Boffin didn’t give them a single penny, but they did learn how to get by. Eventually, John opened up about his true identity. And, as it turned out, Mr. Boffin’s bad attitude towards him was all a part of a big test that Bella successfully passed.

Our Mutual Friend Themes

Rebirth, along with the renewal of a man’s body and soul, is the main theme of this grandiose novel. River Thames, the symbol of London, is depicted by Dickens as a sign of new beginnings and an entirely new life. John, the lead character of the story, comes out of Thames as a new person, just like people do through Baptism.

After his “resurrection”, John is not quick to claim his dad’s inheritance. He wants to prove to himself that he doesn’t need the old man’s money, name, or influence to find his place in London and live an honest, happy life. Overall, water plays a huge role in Our Mutual Friend, making Dickens one of the first writers to use it as a prominent character.

Charles Dickens Against Stereotypes And Expectations

Society expects us to act a certain way and do certain things, and when we refuse, a conflict emerges. However, being true to ourselves is a divine task, one that we can’t fail. In this novel, Dickens talks about the false concept of arranged marriages when parents think they know better and define their kids’ future without even asking their permission.

They usually do it for personal gain – for money and influence – nothing else. Say, John was expected to marry Bella and had no rights in this arrangement. Yes, he does fall in love with her and marries the girl eventually, but on his own terms.

He confronts the pillars of society and goes his own way, leaving his riches behind and relying solely on himself. Bella’s mom, in turn, encourages her daughter to save the whole family by marrying a wealthy gentleman. Her dad, on the other hand, wants her to be with the man she truly loves and cares about.

The Conflict Between Parents And Children

As a highly intellectual man, a passionate, free-spirited individual, Charles Dickens despised the “social rules” and motivated his readers to think outside the box and follow their own dreams without giving much thought to what others want them to do.

After Bella marries John, her mom accepts her choice and even starts to respect her child more. Still, the independent girl doesn’t turn into a boring housewife and keeps up with the latest news. Her character is a perfect example of a strong-willed, educated woman who accepts the role of a wife without giving up much of her freedom.

John and Bella found their way to each other without the help of their parents and lived a happy life together. However, if they were to follow the wishes of their moms and dads, everything would’ve been different and they might’ve never fallen for each other.

Our Mutual Friend Movie, TV And Stage Adaptations

As the final novel written by Dickens, OMF is also one of the most popular ones (at least among the scholars and the true fans). There have been enough adaptations of the story, which means you’ll definitely find one you like.

The very first film based on this book came out in 1911. It was a silent movie, of course. Another soundless film was released ten years later by the Danish. BBC is known for its huge lineup of TV adaptations of Dickens’s novels.

The first one hit the small screens in 1958. The second one arrived in ’76. And finally, the third version was broadcasted in 1998. The movie cast included the beautiful Anna Friel and the charismatic Steven Mackintosh. Although, there have been two radio adaptations (1984 and 2009 respectively).

Summing Up

Our Mutual Friend wasn’t a great success commercially. On the other hand, many critics and fans call it his best work. Charles Dickens used his brilliant writing skills to deliver a true masterpiece, a novel that his followers can be proud of.

You can almost feel his genius poking through the pages, and one can tell that the master used many of his own life experiences to deliver a perfectly clear picture of London back in the mid-XIX century. This story might not be the most gripping and/or thrilling one.

Yet, when it comes to literary classics that stand the test of time and become even more relevant to the future generations than the current ones, Our Mutual Friend is a diamond in the rough, so to speak.



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