Our Mutual Friend

Satire of the Nouveaux-Riches in Our Mutual Friend College

Within Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend exist several separate worlds. The lives of the Boffinses are separate from that of Mr. and Mrs. Podsnap, which in turn is separate from the lives of the different members of the Hexam family. The most self-aware world that exists within the novel is that of the Veneerings, the nouveaux-riches couple introduced in Chapter II whose sole aim in life is to rise within the London social scene. In Chapter X the reader is introduced, through the Veneerings, to the soon-to-be-married Alfred Lammle and his bride Sophronia. Coupled with the Veneerings, the Lammles, respectively named within the extract as ‘the mature young gentleman’ and ‘mature young lady’, act as satirical symbols of high society within Victorian London and the emphasis that they placed on wealth, property and title.

Dickens uses the Veneerings as a satirical device for the nouveaux-riches, using wit and hyperbole in chapters that include the couple to create an emotionally empty and materialistic image of the upper class. The name ‘Veneering’ itself suggests superficiality, a veneering being something used to cover over and improve the appearance of an object, whether that be furniture, the surfaces of a building or a person...

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