Our Mutual Friend: Dickens' Satire Against Society

2341 words - 10 pages

During this time period, the most important thing to avoid was being mistaken for a lower class. This time period not only is ruled by an aristocracy, but it is constantly surrounded by the struggle to reflect upper class living. "like the middle class who struggled for position and respect in society that worshipped wealth, the poor were anxious to differentiate themselves from their less respectable, more destitute neighbors" (Yancey 43).
Each class works to mimic clothing styles and home decor based on what seems to be the style of the time period. As each class works harder and harder to avoid being lowly in society, they grow further and further into their obsession with materials and ...view middle of the document...

Within the first few chapters of the novel, the waterman "Gaffer" Hexam finds a body of an aristocrat, calling for aid sending more upper-class figures to investigate the body. The two classes separated by thought are constantly in collision with each other. Through the intermarriage of Lizzie Hexam and Eugene Wrayburn, another connection between the upper and lower class develops. Their marriage is a metaphor for the association two castes have with each other. Though at first their relation is not fully visible and can easily be ignored and denied due to social differences, but when Wrayburn is on what is believed to be his deathbed, they accept the marriage. As Wrayburn, a man of a higher social ranking is dying, Lizzie cares for him, helping him, and loving him. This shows that one cannot live without the other. Without being aided by Lizzie, it is questionable as to whether Wrayburn would have lived. This shows that without the poor working and supporting the aristocrats, the social superior class cannot survive.
As the classes are separate, but connected, the greatest differences between the two is the education provided. One of the most important factors of the novel is the effect education has on society and how it impacts a person, as shown through Charley Hexam's character. Due to the opportunity given to him by his selfless sister, Charley obtains the opportunity to go receive an propitious education, which helps him gain respect in society. Within the time period of his schooling, Charley rejects his sister in order to leave his poverty stricken past behind. His mind is corrupted by his lust for social acceptance and money. In the reality of the Victorian Era, with an education one may move up in society, make a respectable life for oneself, and no longer be seen as the dirt of civilization. "one's occupation determined where one lived, the clothes one wore, and the respect one could command in society" (Yancey 22). Though there are chances given in order for one to move up in society; the poor are limited in terms of education and opportunity. Charley, due to the help of his sister and his school master becomes an exception. He works to obtain a decent education despite the barbaric classroom setting for children of the lower-class background, where loud noises and uncontrolled boys would distract others from learning valuable lessons. He later becomes a teacher, and then loses all decent morality in refusing to interact with his unworthy sister.
However, due to the minimal amount of educational opportunities offered to the children of the working class, many young men are uneducated and remain in the lowliest occupations for their life. To many people of the lower class, an education is unattainable, while the wealthy unconstructively takes advantage of it. From a young age, the children from wealthy backgrounds learn to properly speak, read, and write. These children grow up selfish and unappreciative, because their life is...

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