Dust Heaps In Our Mutual Friend

639 words - 3 pages

Dust Heaps

Dust develops. The famed Dust Heaps in Our Mutual Friend are simply large mountains of … well, dust. One cannot fully judge the purpose of Dickens’ incorporation of dust heaps in his novel without background information on them. The question being what is a dust heap? Apparently the answer “heaps of dust” is not good enough.

In the Victorian era dust heaps were filled with useful garbage. Dust heaps were made up of many different things. One such ingredient – also the main ingredient – was fine cinders and ashes. These items, along with some soil, were sold to brick makers for making bricks, and to farmers for manure – especially for clover. The next item tended to be pieces of coal which were usually there because a servant’s carelessness. The coal was either resold or simply used. Another portion of the dust heaps was made from ‘breeze’. According to “Dust; or Ugliness Redeemed”, breeze was named after the cinders which were “left after the wind has blown the finer cinders through an upright sieve”. These ciders were also sold to brick makers, but for burning the bricks. Rags, bones, and old metal were also prominent. The bones were crushed and used for manure. The woolen rags were sent to make manure, while the linen rags were washed and then used to make paper. The old metal was melted and sold to store-dealers. Old tin and iron vessels were also melted down and sold to make things like clamps for trunks and for making copperas – used in dying, tanning, or making ink. Old bricks and oyster shells were sold to builders for sinking foundations and forming roads. All broken glass vessels were sold to old glass shops. Old boots and shoes were sold to “Prussian-blue manufactures”. Finally, all jewelry, coins, and other forms of money were either kept or sold to Jews. Due to all of these “hidden treasures,” big dust heaps...

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