1. What are some of the most noticeable features of Dickens’ style? What are some common patterns used in sentences? In paragraphs? How are his rhythms designed to affect the reader?
2. Why may the novel be called Our Mutual Friend? What are some advantages of the title?
3. What are some features of Dickens’ chapter titles? How much and what kinds of information do they convey?
4. What purpose is served by constructing a novel with such elaborate plots and subplots? How would this structure have been useful in the organization of serial parts?
5. The novel was sold in 19 parts, the first eighteen of which had about three or four chapters, and the last of which was a double number. For example, part I consisted of chapters 1-4, part II of 5-7, part III of 8-10, and so on. Can you see some instances in which the part was designed so that it closed dramatically?
6. Dickens was a great admirer of the theater and adapted several of his novels for public dramatic readings. In what way may his experience in the theater have influenced his construction of scenes and chapters? Can you give instances of scenes which might have been effective on the stage?
7. What are some features in the construction of books and chapters? Are these generally unified? What attention is given to contrast?
8. How would you characterize Dickens’ descriptions? Are they realistic? Exaggerated? Emotion-laden?
9. What are some forms of humor which pervade the novel? Is his humor sarcastic? Friendly? What are some instances of covert jokes or ironies embedded in the plot? (e. g. Silas Wegg’s ignorance of the title of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire)
10. What are some features of the choice of names? What is the effect of names such as Boffin, R. Wilfer, Silas Wegg, the Veneerings, Jenny Wren, and so on?
11. What is implied in the title of the first section, “Cup and Lip”? Are the other section titles similarly suggestive?
12. What are some early themes introduced in the story? After reading the first “part,” what do you expect will be some recurring interests in the plot? (e. g., romance, crime, mysterious death)
13. How does Dickens create character through contrasting speech patterns? What different speech registers are used by the different characters in the book? Are these speech differences class-linked?
14. What are some characteristics of the illustrations by Marcus Stone? How do these differ from those by Cruikshank?
15. Are there similarities in characterization or theme between Our Mutual Friend and other Dickens novels you have read?
Questions by chapter:
1.“On the Look Out”: What contrasts are presented in this chapter? How do we find out what Gaffer and Lizzie are “look[ing] out” for? What unease and suspense are created by withholding this information? With whom is the reader expected to sympathize?
2. “The Man From Somewhere”: Who is the “man from somewhere”? Why is his identity so elusive? How are the Veneerings satirized, and what do they represent?
3. “Another Man”: How are the lawyers Eugene and Mortimer represented? Does Dickens seem to have a high opinion of the legal profession?
What is unusual about the reactions of (alias) Julius Handford to the sight of the alleged corpse of John Harmon? What does the reader infer from this?
What is the general tone and atmosphere of the police station and morgue? What does the chief officer’s response to Handford suggest about its application of justice?
What effect may the offer of a reward for information relating to Harmon’s death be expected to have on the outcome?
What do we learn about the Hexam family’s past? What seems the relationship between Gaffer and his children? On what grounds does he oppose their education?
What do you make of the reference to Lizzie’s “dark cheek”? Is she a gypsy?
4. “The R. Wilfer Family”: What relationship does R. Wilfer have to characters already introduced in the novel? What is his occupation? (a clerk in Mr. Veneering’s drug company) How is Bella characterized? What is the family’s economic status?
Why do they rent one of their rooms to John Rokesmith, and why does he choose them for landlords? What prompts them to accept a lodger with no references?
At the end of part I, what contrasts have been introduced? Are there important characters who have not yet appeared? Can we already discern which will be major elements of the plot?
5. “Boffin’s Bower”: What seem some distinguishing personal traits of Silas Wegg? Is he honest? What draws the reader’s interest? Why do you think Dickens chose to present Wegg as crippled?
What does Mr. Boffin’s choice of him as a personal reader indicate? Is Mr. Boffin being cheated? What significance is placed on the fact that neither man has heard of Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire? What is the nature of the Boffins’ residence? How do the readings turn out?
6. “Cut Adrift”: Who is cut adrift, and for what reason? How is the Six Jolly Fellowship-Porter described? Who is its proprietor, and what is her relationship to Lizzie Hexam?
What motivates Mr. Riderhood’s accusations, and what do we learn by Lizzie’s anxieties when questioned about her father? How does the reader respond to her refusal to leave her father?
Why does Lizzie persuade her brother to leave their home, and what final advice does she give? What seems significant about the chapter’s final scene between Lizzie and her father?
7. “Mr. Wegg Looks After Himself”: How does Mr. Wegg look after himself? What is apparently his relationship to Mr. Venus, and what is the latter’s occupation? How long must the reader wait to discover this?
What are some grotesque elements of the chapter? What does the reader suspect may be the relationship of the contents of this shop to the main plot?
8. "Mr. Boffin in Consultation": With whom does he consult? What significance is attached to the name of Mr. Mortimer Lightwood's clerk, and the fictive names of his clients? Why the allusion to "never, never, never"? (British song, "Britons never, never shall be slaves)
What is revealed about Boffin's character by his response to the news of the legacy? What memories does he have of old Mr. Harmon, and of his son John Harmon's childhood? (90) Has Mr. Harmon been a good father or employer?
What are some of Boffin's first actions on receiving the legacy? (makes will to benefit his wife, offers reward for news of murderer)
In what context does Eugene Wrayburn object to the comparison of humans with bees? (Isaac Watts, "How doth the little busy bee")
What does John Rokesmith offer to Boffin? Why do you think he seeks to assume this role? How does Rokesmith describe his past?
9. "Mr. and Mrs. Boffin in Consultation": What are some of Mrs. Boffin's desires? What makes it difficult for them to find a suitable orphan to adopt?
Who are the Milveys, and why do the Boffins consult them? Are they helpful, to them or to the children?
What offer do the Boffins attempt to make to Bella Wilfer? How are they received by the family? How is George Sampson presented?
What do we learn about John Rokesmith's emotions and his relationship to the Boffins?
10. "A Marriage Contract": How did Alfred and Sophronia Lammle meet? What prompted their marriage?
What are some features of their wedding which are satirized? What disturbs their honeymoon on the Isle of Wight?
How does each behave under their new knowledge? What mutual tri-part agreement do they make?
What comments on marriage do you think are made in describing the marriages of the Wilfers, Lammles and Boffins?
Is this a good place to have ended the third serial number?
11. A "Podsnappery": How has Mr. Podsnap made his money? What attitudes does he reveal toward the arts? Toward foreigners? Toward the poor? Toward his daughter?
What sector of society/type of person does he represent? What do we learn about the private life and emotions of Miss Podsnap? What are Sophronia's motives in flattering and befriending her?
12. "The Sweat of an Honest Man's Brow": What does Eugene Wrayburn tell Mortimer of his family background? Which parental demand does he seek to evade? What does he envision as an ideal life?
Who is the "honest man," and to whom does he seek to give his testimony? Are they suspicious? What seem Eugene's concerns?
To where does Rogue Riderhood lead them? How does the Inspector respond to his testimony? (158-59)
13. "Tracking the Bird of Prey": Who are the trackers? How does Eugene respond to the vision of Lizzie awaiting her father?
What ruse do Eugene and Lightwood use to establish a false identity? (Eugene claims that his parents have been in the lime transporting business) Why do you think this particular false claim was chosen?
How does Eugene attempt to protect Lizzie?
How does Rogue Riderhood respond to the news that his former partner has not returned home? To the sight of his empty boat?
14. "The Bird of Prey Brought Down": What are some qualities of the nighttime ride down the Thames? (eerie and frightening)
How is Gaffer finally apprehended? What analysis of the circumstances of his death is made by the Inspector? (175) Is his death horrible? Ironic? Fitting?
Does Riderhood receive the coveted reward? How do Eugene and Mortimer each react to the event? (Eugene wants to leave a job in which he can unintentionally hurt another; Mortimer hallucinates.)
15. "Two New Servants": Who are these "two new servants"? What do we learn about the Boffins' intended new way of life? The condition of their current home? What are the "Mounds," and what will be their fate?
What is the purpose of introducing examples of bad poetry at this point? What views of Wegg does the narrator offer? (185)
What strange dreams and visions begin to haunt Mrs. Boffin? How are readers expected to interpret these?
16. "Minders and Reminders": How does Rokesmith fulfill his new duties as business manager and personal assistant? What are some mysterious aspects of his behavior? To what do you attribute his dislike of correspondence with Mr. Mortimer Lightwood?
What impedes the Boffins' search for an orphan to adopt? What do we learn about the character and principles of Mrs. Betty Higden?
What does she most fear? What criticisms does she make of the workhouse? (199-200) Why has she been induced to part with her grandson? What action indicates her sincerity?
What does John Rokesmith suggest to Bella on his meeting with her? For what does she seem ambitious? What judgment does he make of her character? (298) Does the reader agree?
17. "A Dismal Swamp": What is the "dismal swamp"? Was this expected? How does the Boffins' new status alter the behavior of others toward them? Under what circumstances is Bella introduced to society?
What types of charities are they expected to patronize? Might any aspects of this satire derive from Dickens' personal experience?
What seems ominous about Wegg's behavior at the conclusion of the book? (acts as a spy, seeks something, 213)
What seems implied by the title of the second book, "Birds of a Feather"? Are there other bird metaphors in the novel?
1. "Of an Educational Character": In what way is this title sarcastic? What criticisms of Victorian children's books does the narrator make?
What do we learn about Bradley Headstone and his relationship to Charley Hexam?
How is Bradley Headstone described? Is he intelligent? Applied? A man of high values? Who is Miss Peecher and what is her relationship to Bradley and Charley?
What do we learn about Lizzie's situation after her father's death? What has been Charley's attitude toward her? What disagreements occur during their visit?
Who is Miss Jenny Wren, and what effect has her disability had on her life? What critique does she make of the conditions of work for seamstresses? (223)
Why has Lizzie chosen to live with her? What does Charley tell Mr. Headlam he believes would benefit his sister?
2. "Still Educational": On what mission does Eugene Wrayburn visit Lizzie? (wishes to further her education) What type of observations has he been making on her behalf?
What offer does he make, and what arguments persuade her to accept it? (236) How would you characterize Eugene's behavior toward her?
What characterizes Jenny's fancies and dreams of flowers and fairies?
What do we learn of Jenny's father? What are some of the results of his drunkenness? Her reaction? (243)
In general, how do fathers seem to be characterized in this novel?
How does the novel represent themes of literacy and popular culture?
3. "A Piece of Work": What is the "work" mentioned in the title? Does the narrator consider it serious and important work?
How is the election process satirized? What are Veneering's qualities as a candidate, and Twemlow's as a supporter? What issues, if any, does Dickens see as important to the election and its outcome? (constituents ignored, 254)
Are some of the processes he satirizes still in evidence?
4. "Cupid Promoted": What motivates the Lammles in their friendship with Georgiana Podsnap? What economic incentive does Alfred have, in addition to their shared one? Does Georgiana deserve to become the victim of their scheming? What characterizes her response to the prospect of romance?
What stereotypes are overturned in the portrayal of Georgiana's fears? How do they increase the reader's sympathy for this otherwise privileged young woman?
What is important about the scene in which the Lammles view one another in the mirror? (260)
Why do they seek to promote Georgiana Podsnap's marriage? Why is "Fascination Fledgeby" chosen as her potential mate? Does his nickname seem accurate? Does their first meeting go well?
5. "Mercury Prompting": Why is the god of thieves and tricksters invoked in the title? What does it mean to say that Fledgeby is devoted to L S D? (pounds, shillings, pence)
What is the relationship between the two men? Between Fledgeby and Riah? What stereotypes does this scene attempt to evoke? (British Jews had criticized his portrayal in Oliver Twist of Fagin, leader of a den of thieves)
Why are Lizzie Hexam and Jenny working at their sewing on his roof? Are these "birds of a feather"?
What has happened to the "waste" which Riah sells, and why is this symbolic?
6. "A Riddle without an Answer": What is the riddle, and who first poses it? What prompts a visit by Charley Hexam and Bradley Headstone, and how do they comport themselves? (295)
What do they want, and what are their grounds for resentment? How are their insinuations undercut--or reinforced--by the plot? What emotions is this scene designed to evoke in the reader?
How does Eugene respond to their attacks, and is his response effective? What seems to be Eugene's underlying problem? (unable to make decisions, 295)
Can you think of other Victorian novels in which an idle young man is reformed?
7. "In which a Friendly Move is originated": What parcel does Mr. Venus deliver to Mr. Wegg? (returned leg) What is the meaning of this grotesque action? Are the two men on cordial terms? Against whom does Wegg harbor special resentment? What suspicions does Wegg insinuate? (that the Boffins have killed Mr. Harmon)
What is well-timed/ironic about John Rokesmith's arrival and message? On what joint plan do Mr. Venus and Wegg agree? What may they hope to find?
What effect is created in the reader by Silas Wegg's repeated denunications of Rokesmith?
8. "In which an Innocent Elopment Occurs": What is the innocent elopement of the title? What prompts Bella to visit her former home? How is she received? What declaration of affection does she make? (313, prefers her father) What does Rokesmith observe as he delivers a package?
On what mission does Bella visit her father, and how do they spend the afternoon? What are her daydreams of the future? (318-19)
What ambitions does she confess to her father? ("mercenary little wretch," 319) Is he judgmental? On what grounds does she call him a "brother"? (320) Why does she weep?
What opinion is the reader expected to hold of Bella at this point? What future do we expect for her?
9. "In which the Orphan Makes his Will": What news does Sloppy bring of the orphan Johnny? How does Johnny respond to the visit of the Boffins and Bella? What fear at first prevents his grandmother from agreeing that he may be removed to a hospital?
What facts does Dickens remind us may lie behind her fears? Why does he address the reader as "us," and to what social class of "us" does he speak?
What are Johnny's last gifts and wishes before his death?
Why do you think this scene/plot strand was included in the novel?
10. "A Successor": What is the relationship between John Rokesmith and Mrs. Boffin? What decision does she take on learning of the death of little Johnny? On whom does she bestow her charity, and which what result? (337, Sloppy grateful)
11. "Some Affairs of the Heart": What disappointment does Miss Peecher suffer? What errand prompts Bradley to visit Lizzie, and how does he fare? What seems ominous about his manner? Is the use of dolls to express Jenny's judgements effective?
What questions does Jenny ask Lizzie? What is significant about her answer, and her view of marriage? Why is Jenny distressed at ther answer?
12. "More Birds of Prey": Who are these? What are we to think of Pleasant Riderhood? Why do you think Dickens assigns her the name "Pleasant"? What has been her past, and what is now her occupation?
What do we learn about the mysterious stranger who visits her? What do he and Pleasant discuss? What does he demand of Riderhood, and what compells the later to accede?
How is the reader expected to interpret this scene?
13. "A Solo and a Duett": What is the solo, and what is the duet?
What is the effect of relating this portion of the story through Rokesmith’s mind? In general, does Dickens allow us entrance into the minds of his characters?
Who do we learn has been the mysterious visitor to Riderhood's home? How had Harmon/Rokesmith met Mr. Radfoot, and what plan had they agreed upon? Why had they visited Riderhood's dwelling, and what then happened in the coffee shop by the river? What prompted Harmon to dress in Radfoot's clothes?
What does John later realize has happened, and how has he come to this knowledge? Why had Radfoot been killed? Has the drug John was given had any lingering effects?
What is the effect of relating these events through Rokesmith's own mind? On what grounds does he decide to conceal his identity? Do you think his arguments for continuing to conceal his identity are good ones?
What declaration does Rokesmith make to Bella, and what is her response? Why do you think she makes no pretence of politeness? What emotions does Harmon/Rokesmith feel at chapter's end?
14. “Strong of Purpose”: What do you make of the offhand comments on race by R. Wilfer? Who is “strong of purpose”? What future does she choose, and why? What document does Rokesmith send to Lizzie?
15. “The whole Case so Far”: Under what circumstance does Bradley Headstone declare his love for Lizzie? What characterizes his advances? What renders them alarming?
What ruptures the relationship between Charley and his sister? What possible dangers are suggested by the appearance of Eugene on the scene? How does he behave toward Mr. Riah? What role does the latter serve on Lizzie’s behalf?
16. “An Anniversary Occasion”: What is the anniversary, who attends the occasion, and what do we learn about Lizzie’s fate, and from whom? What request does Sophronia Lammle make of Mr. Tremlow, and under what circumstances?
Book Three: “A Long Lane”: To what does this title refer, and with what suggestions?
1.“Lodgers in Queer Street”: To what does the title refer? What news does Mr. Lammle bring to Fledgby? What information does the latter pry from Mr. Riah?
2. A Respected Friend in a New Aspect: What errand do Riah and Jenny Wren undertake for Lizzie’s sake? Who is the “respected friend” and what is his fate? What do you think might be some consequences of the fact that his unconscious body is brought to Abbey Potterson’s tavern?
3. “The Same Respected Friend in More Aspects than One”: How does Pleasant respond to the fact that others are unexpectedly concerned to save her father’s life? How does he himself respond on awakening?
4. “A Happy Return of the Day”: What irony lies in this title? How do the Wilfer family behave on this occasion? What four pieces of news does Bella tell her father, and how does he respond?
5. “The Golden Dustman Falls into Bad Company”: What is this “bad company”? How does Mr. Boffin behave to John Rokesmith, and what kind of books does he begin to study? How does his changed manner affect Mrs. Boffin and Bella?
What secrets does Bella confide in Sophronia Lammle? How may this be dangerous?
6. “The Golden Dustman Falls into Worse Company”: What is this worse company? What does he apparently seek in the Mounds, and who observes him? What prevents Silas Wegg from accosting him to steal the glass bottle?
Why do you think Mr. Boffin didn’t do this earlier?
7. “The Friendly Move takes up a Strong Position”: What has Silas Wegg discovered, and under what circumstances? What do Silas and Venus resolve to do? Whom does Mr. Venus reveal to have been the object of his former intentions? What events relevant to the main plot has he witnessed?
What are Silas’ reflections as he prowls around the Boffins’ mansion?
8. "The End of a Long Journey": To what does the title refer? Under what circumstances does Betty Higden die, and how are these appropriate for her? (a community of women)
Who finds her before her death? Is this a surprise? What purpose is served (symbolically, and in the plot) by the fact that Lizzie attends her?
9. "Somebody Becomes the Subject of a Prediction": Who mourns Mrs. Hidgen most sincerely? What seems to preoccupy Mrs. Milvey at the time of the funeral, and why do you think Dickens includes this motif?
What social encounters are furthered by the funeral? What role do the Boffins play in this episode, and why do you think they didn't attend in person?
About what do Rokesmith and Bella converse? What has caused a change in their relationship? What admission does he make? (they discuss Mr. Boffin's rudeness to Rokesmith; he confides that he endures Mr. Boffin's rudeness for a purpose)
What piece of information do Rokesmith and Bella seek to extract from Lizzie, and why? (she seeks to conceal her place of residence) Does this seem a natural interest? Intrusive?
What reactions/emotions prompt the friendship between Lizzie and Bella? What information does Lizzie confide in this new acquaintance? (her fear of Headstone's violence, her unselfish love for Eugene)
What prediction does Lizzie make about Bella's future? (she will live a good and loving life) How is the reader expected to respond to these predictions?
By what mode of transportation do Bella and Rokesmith return home? What do we infer from this? (Lizzie's residence is fairly remote from central London)
10. "Scouts Out": Who visits Eugene and Mortimer in their lodgings, and what does he offer? (Jenny's father offers to get Lizzie's address) What is his motive?
From what does Mortimer beg Eugene to desist, and why? What ominous information does Eugene give Mortimer, and how is this confirmed?
How do the two men react to the news of Headstone's stalking? What is expected to be the reader's response?
11. "In the Dark": What are some implications of this title? Who meets whom "in the dark" and where? On what grounds do the two men strike up an arrangement?
What is the strategic importance of the fact that Riderhood lives at the Lock? At this stage, what does the reader imagine may happen?
12. "Meaning Mischief": Who means mischief? How do the Lammles intend to deal with the fact of their bankruptcy? Will they work? What causes them to choose the Boffins and Rokesmith as potential victims? Why do they not hope to oust Bella from the Boffins' affections?
What does Sophronia beg Fledgby to do for them? How does he respond to the information that the Lammles may be able to pay their debts within a short period of time? (hastens to foreclose immediately)
13. "Give a Dog a Bad Name, and Hang Him": To whom does this chapter title refer?
14. "Mr. Wegg Prepares a Grindstone for Mr. Boffin's Nose": Under what circumstances does Boffin learn of Wegg's plot against him? What has prompted Mr. Venus to this revelation?
15. "The Golden Dustman at his Worst": On what grounds does Mr. Boffin dismiss Rokesmith? What are some ironies in this scene? Has Bella unintentionally contributed to this result?
How does Bella respond to the firing of Rokesmith, and what actions does she take as a result?
16. "The Feast of the Three Hobgoblins": Who are the "three hobgoblins" and under what circumstances do they meet? What does their feast celebrate? How does Mr. Wilfer respond to the fact that Bella is marrying a man with limited prospects?
What tone prevails upon Bella and Mr. Wilfer's return to the Wilfer residence? What scene demonstrates Bella's attachment to her father?
17. "A Social Chorus": How do the Lammles' acquaintances respond to the news of their bankrupcy? Do they try to help? What warning does Sophronia Lammle unexpectedly give to Mr. Twemlow, and why is this surprising to him?
Who is called out from the party, and what news is he given? Is the reader expected to be pleased by this?
Why do you think Dickens chose this place within the plot as the ending of the third book? What may the reader anticipate at this point?
"A Turning": What is foreshadowed by the title of book IV?
1. "Setting Traps": What kinds of traps are set and by whom?
What verbal encounter occurs as Eugene Wrayburn passes the lock? What motivates his animus toward Riderhood?
What assistance does Riderhood give to Bradley Headstone, and vice versa? What causes Bradley's return to Riderhood's house? What condition is he in, and what does he seem to threaten? (635) Is he suicidal? Whom has he seen in his scouting? (Lizzie and Eugene walking together)
For what purpose does Riderhood open Bradley's coat? What item of dress does he especially note, and why?
2. "The Golden Dustman Rises a Little": Are the Lammles successful in the object of their visit to the Boffins? What does Mr. Boffin give them, and what does he refuse?
What disinterested actions does Georgiana take, and why does Mr. Boffin confiscate her proferred money?
How do Sophronia and Alfred differ in their response to Georgiana's generosity? What final view is the reader given of them?
3. "The Golden Dustman Sinks Again": What is ironic about this chapter title?
Under what circumstances does Silas Wegg make his demands of Mr. Boffin? How does Mr. Boffin respond to him? What does Wegg demand be done to Sloppy?
What favor does Mr. Boffin request on behalf of his wife, and with what result? What absurd scene ends the chapter?
4. "A Runaway Match": Under what circumstances do Bella and Rokesmith marry? Who accompanies them, and what role does he play in their celebrations?
What slightly suspicious noise occurs during the wedding ceremony?
Why has Bella excluded her mother and sister from the ceremony? How does she announce her wedding? What are the narrator's final comments on the scene? ('tis love that makes the world go round, 671)
5. "Concerning the Mendicant's Bride": How do Mrs. Wilfer and Lavinia respond to the news of Bella's marriage?
What causes a brief argument between Mrs. Wilfer and Lavinia, and how does it end?
How are Bella and John received on their visit? What reason does Bella give for having married without informing her mother?
As she and John return home, what views on the effects of wealth does Bella express? What occupations and studies now consume her?
What do you think may be foreshadowed by Bella's statement that "I feel a little serious"? (683)
On his visit to the young couple, what does Mr. Wilfer claim have been his sources of education? (684) What has been their value?
What news does Bella impart to her husband after her father's departure?
6. "A Cry for Help": Where does Eugene seek Lizzie, and what does he seek? On what grounds does she beg him to leave, and does he obey?
What warning encounter occurs as he leaves her side?(697)
What question is Eugene debating at the moment of attack? (698) What happens to his body, and how is he rescued? Is the act of rescue symbolic?
7. "Better to be Abel than Cain": To whom does the chapter title refer?
In what condition does Bradley Headstone return to visit Riderhood's dwelling? What news does Riderhood learn from the passing barges? What seems important about the meal shared by the two men?
Why does Riderhood follow Bradley, and what does he learn from his spying? What causes him to refrain from further pursuit, and why do you think he does so?
What does Bradley Headstone regret as he remembers the act of intended murder?
On what grounds does Charley express anger at Bradley Headstone? What opinion does the narrator express at his complaints? (712) How does Bradley respond to his pupil's defection?
8. "A Few Grains of Pepper": Who seeks information about Lizzie Hexam's whereabouts from Jenny Wren? Is he successful?
What set of circumstances bring Sophronia and Alfred Lammle to Fledgby's lodgings at the same time as Jenny Wren's visit? What revenge do these take?
How do you think the reader is expected to respond to these acts of revenge?
9. "Two Places Vacated": What are the "two places vacated"?
What had caused Jenny Wren to avoid Pubsey and Co., and what causes her return? What prompts Riah to leave his former workplace, and with whom does he leave? What motive does she suggest for Mr. Fledgby's attempt to expose Lizzie's whereabouts?
What causes the death of Jenny Wren's father, and under what circumstances does she learn of the event?
What are some features of the funeral and burial? Who becomes her surrogate father?
What news is brought to Jenny, and by whom?
10. "The Dolls' Dressmaker Discovers a Word": In what state is Eugene after the attack? Who attends him?
Why has Eugene wished for Jenny to be brought to him? What last requests does he make of his friend Mortimer?
Who discovers his deepest wish, and how does she do so? For what purpose does he struggle to remain alive?
11. "Effect is gven to the Dolls' Dressmaker's Discovery": To what event is Bella Rokesmith invited? Why does her husband decline to accompany her, and what social consequences does this have for her?
Who encounters the wedding party at the railroad station, and how does he respond to the news of Lizzie's impending wedding?
Under what circumstances do Eugene and Lizzie marry? What do they determine should be their future?
12. "The Passing Shadow": What is referred to as "the passing shadow"?
What promise does Bella give to her husband?
Whom do the Rokesmith's encounter while shopping? What consequence does this have? What is the apparent result of their visit to the police station?
Under what circumstances do the Rokesmiths enter their new home? By whom are they greeted?
13. "Showing how the Golden Dustman Helped to Scatter Dust": What do the Boffins reveal about their past motives and behavior toward Mr. Rokesmith? How had they first recognized him?
What caused the prolongation of their scheme, and why has the need for secrecy now ended? Why had Mr. Boffin pretended to be a miser as well as a harsh employer? Why had Mrs. Boffin felt distress at his behavior?
14. "Checkmate to the Friendly Move": How has Silas Wegg fared as he awaits the sale of the Mound? What new change has entered Mr. Venus's life? What has brought about this happy result?
Under what circumstances are Silas Wegg's plans defeated? What do we learn about the second and third wills? (first one as long known; second one gave all of his property to the Crown; the third one to the Boffins, i. e., Mr. Boffin, from whom it will pass to John Harmon and his wife, as per the original will)
Who is in fact the legal heir, and to whom has he transferred his property? Is this a satisfactory ending, morally and emotionally?
Can you think of another mid-Victorian novel in which the protagonists are affected by a triple will? (Middlemarch, Old Featherstone'ssuccessive wills)
Why have they not told Silas about this earlier? What reparation is given Silas, and how is he ushered from the Boffins' home?
15. What was Caught in the Traps that were Set": To what does Bradley Headstone attribute the fact that he has not been arrested? Is he correct in this assumption?
What is Bradley's mental state?
Who comes to visit him at his school, and how does he taunt the schoolmaster?
What does Riderhood demand of Headstone when the latter visits his dwelling? What is Bradley's response to his suggestions?
Under what circumstances does Headstone meet his death? Is Riderhood an innocent victim? Do any factors redeem the sordidness of Bradley Headstone's death?
16. "Persons and Things in General": What good effects to others follow from the Harmons' assumption of wealth? What kind of charities do they practice? Why do they seek to help Eugene Wrayburn and Fledgby's other debtors?
What causes Sloppy to visit Jenny Wren's home? On what basis do the two become friends?
What does Eugene tell Lightwood has been his father's reaction to his marriage? Is this a surprise?
What are Eugene's intentions for the future? Why does he not intend to emigrate?
"Chapter the Last: The Voice of Society": What does the novelist tell us will soon happen to the Veneerings?
How do the members of "society" respond to the news that one of their number has married a woman of a lower social class? Who comes to Eugene and Lizzie's defense?
Why do you think Dickens makes this his last chapter of the novel?
"Postscript, in lieu of Preface" : What topics does the author take up in his own voice? Are these central to the novel? Why do you think he chose these topics for discussion?
What personal statement does he make about the fate of his manuscript in a railway accident? How does this affect the reader's response to the book?
What do you think are some of the binding themes of the novel?
What are some instances of resurrections and failed resurrections?
Are there theatrical aspects to Dickens’ characterizations? How are heroes, villains, spies and secrets deployed?
What are ways in which Dickens increases the reader’s interest? Would you say that this is a suspenseful novel? To what extent do you think you can predict the outcome?
What effect is created by the use of mysteries, surprises, reversals and conversions? Are these melodramatic effects consistent with the novel's themes and characterizations?
To what extent is Our Mutual Friend a detective novel?
What are some problems which a writer must contend with in writing a novel about his/her own time and place? How/to what extent does Dickens surmount these?
How do the illustrations add to the interest of the text? How do they shape the reader’s responses?
What are some ways in which Dickens uses metaphor? Comic exaggeration?
What are some features of Dickens' representations of family life? Marriage and romance? Surrogate family relationships?
Page numbers are from the Oxford Illustrated Edition.