Our Mutual Friend is Dickens’s last novel to be completed and one of the most complex ones. As usual in Dickens’s novels, we are involved in a multi-layered plot with a myriad of characters. Two completely different and distant worlds are brought together into the same mystery story: very poor people living along the river Thames , in the city slums, as well as snobbish, stiff upper-class pleople. Misty or nocturnal settings surround the misery and desperation of the first; daylight, big houses, luxurious gatherings characterize the representation of the latter. People from the two “nations” Queen Victoria ruled on meet and intermingle due to the mysterious death by drowning of young John Harmon, heir of a huge patrimony coming from dust (or better from rubbish). The inheritance, after his death, makes his father’s worker, Mr Boffin, immensely rich.
(John & Bella by Heather - CLICK on the image above to see and read more)
There are two main love stories, quite unconventional ones, through which Dickens mocks the strict etiquette of the society of his time: Bella Wilfer (Anna Friel ) expects John Harmon (Steven Mackintosh) to come back after many years abroad , to inherit his father’s patrimony, in order to marry him - though she doesn’t love nor know him. She’s ready to a marriage of interest, for money and social position. Unfortunately, John Harmon is found drowned in the Thames. She’ll end up marrying poor John Rokesmith, Mr Boffin’s humble secretary, for love only to discover that the two Johns (Harmon/Rokesmith) are the same person in the end.
Poor but noble Eugene Wrayburn ( Paul McGann) is passionately in love with Lizzie Hexam ( a very young Keeley Hawes), whose father, a boatman, gets a living rescuing corpses from the River Thames. They finally get married going against any expectation of good London society : both Bella and Rokesmith's and Eugene and Lizzie's marriages were not thought proper since they married outside their own class.
(London at Dickens's time)
· Dickens is great at mocking his own world: their gossiping hypocritical way of living based on strict class division, formalities ,void etiquette, material interest and selfishness is his main target.
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