The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910 discussion

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The Dickens Project - Archives > Our Mutual Friend: Book 4-Chapters 1-5 - Mar 6 - Mar 12

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message 1: by Lynnm (last edited Mar 06, 2016 05:15AM) (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments One, our chapters this week begin on an ominous tone. Bradley Headstone has completely lost all reason regarding Eugene, continuing to follow his every movement. What do you think his plans are for Eugene, why do you think that he is dressing like Riderhood, and why do you think he is asking how the locks work? (No spoilers if you actually know. I'm merely asking for speculation because I think that Dickens is giving us some clues here to future events).

Two, Mr. Boffin regains a bit of our sympathies in Chapters 2 and 3. He turns the Lammles away jobless, as he should. But, then, he is brought low by Silas Wegg, who I dislike more and more as the novel goes on. What are Wegg's terms?

Three, we go back to happiness again. Bella and John Rokesmith are married. Quite amusing scenes as Bella and Pa leave home, the ceremony in the church witnessed by the pensioner, and the breakfast after the ceremony. And Lavvy has her day with an excellent hysteria performance. There is a bit of tension when Bella begins to interrogate John Rokesmith regarding his name and money. But his worry is for nothing - she merely has news to give him: she's going to have a baby (which was a bit easy to guess). More speculation: since John Rokesmith is worried about Bella and money, do you think that he will change his mind and resurrect John Harmon?


message 2: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2032 comments Mod
I haven't read farther ahead but I thought that Headstone's plan may be to kill Eugene while looking like Riderhood, then change back to his schoolteacher clothes so Riderhood will be blamed. (There would have to be a witness to make that work). But then he wouldn't need to know about the locks. Or is he planning to lure Eugene to the mill and use some means to drown him in the dangerous water that is described?

We see the gamut of love here, Headstone's obsession is nothing like the love between John and Bella. I liked Bella from the start, and I'm glad she turned out so well. Her forays with the housekeeping book reminded me of Dora in David Copperfield, but she's much more responsible. And her treatment of her father as a child echoes the way Jenny Wren talks about her father as a bad child. The whole "father as child" thing seems kind of creepy to me, I wonder if Dickens played such games with the young Ellen Ternan.


message 3: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments Robin wrote: "I haven't read farther ahead but I thought that Headstone's plan may be to kill Eugene while looking like Riderhood, then change back to his schoolteacher clothes so Riderhood will be blamed. (Ther..."

Robin - I thought the first scenario myself. And then when he sees the locks, he might be thinking of changing his plans again. And looking like Riderhood would work there as well because Riderhood works at the locks.

I got a kick out of the housekeeping book as well. Didn't realize they had those back then. I always thought it was something that started in the 1950s. And so true about those types of books - the authors always have these odd ingredients or items, or assume their readers know more than they do.

And agree about the "father as child" being creepy. For Jenny Wren, she really does have to be the adult. But for Bella and Mr. Wilfer, especially during the wedding breakfast, it got a bit strange and made me a bit uncomfortable.


message 4: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1776 comments Mod
Bradley Headstone is a fascinating character-so often these obsessed characters are played in a positive light-there love is so strong etc etc- and yet Dickens shows the very threatening side of these stalkers. I wonder if at some point his reasoning will change into the "if I can't have her, no one else can" line and then Bella will be the one that is threatened.

I also found the relationship between Bella and her father becoming a bit creepy. Glad to know she will soon have a real child to baby and play with!


message 5: by Hedi (new)

Hedi | 938 comments just FYI - I have not been able to start with these chapters yet and might not be able to make it next week due to my busy job, but I will try to catch up in 2 weeks then.


message 6: by Renee (new)

Renee M | 747 comments Am a bit behind. Hoping to get a little time to catch up this weekend.


message 7: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1776 comments Mod
I'm finished the book so hesitant to post too much-there are lots of spoilers I don't want to let slip! Having said that, I think that this might be my favourite Dickens so far ( and I'm only missing Nicholas Nickleby and Oliver Twist) so happy reading Renee and Hedi!


message 8: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments I've finished as well which is why I also haven't posted a lot - also afraid of spoilers.

And this is definitely my favorite Dickens - hands down, no contest. Love so many of the characters, but especially John Harmon and Eugene. If they had students read OMF rather than GE (which is the one that most students seem to have to read), students might actually like Dickens.

Next week is the last week so I did some research on college databases for what the scholars have to say on the book and characters. Some interesting information.


message 9: by Hedi (last edited Mar 20, 2016 01:20PM) (new)

Hedi | 938 comments I was able to finish these chapters today, but did not make my usual notes.
The major things have already been mentioned:

- Bradley is getting more and more obsessed and I was also wondering how far he will go (you probably know this in the meantime :-) )

- The Lammles are so false and pretending. It is interesting how Dickens describes their interaction with each other. And in some way they are like predators aiming at their prey. Despite Sophronia's liking to Georgiana she was disappointed that Mr Boffin took her 15 pounds and jewellery. I am glad that he saw through them, as Georgiana does not seem to be able to do that. She is a very innocent young lady.

- Mr Wegg is getting more and more unlikable to me as well. I had mentioned that already in a previous thread. I wonder what Boffin is going to do about this situation and whether this might give a chance for John as well.

- The secret wedding of Bella and John was very nice. I am glad that they found each other at last and was also wondering about John's identity and the Harmon fortune, as he now has fulfilled the prerequisite of the will.
Furthermore, I did not quite get the scenes when Bella was taking care of her father calling him child and asking him about school. From your discussion I get that I must have understood it correctly in the end, but then it is definitely creepy. Jenny's father is a real child who cannot take care of himself, but Bella's father is quite independent making a good living and without any visible vices or deficiencies.

- I, too, had to think of Dora and her housekeeping in DC when reading about Bella's daily challenges.
For the rest, I think her mother is absolutely annoying and maybe a bit like Mrs. Nickleby and Mrs. Bennett in Pride & Prejudice. She is almost getting a fit instead of being happy for her daughter.

So, I will try yo get on with next chapters and then try to finish the novel by the end of the week...


message 10: by Renee (new)

Renee M | 747 comments Read this section over the weekend. Then all your comments. I don't really have anything to add. I agree on all counts. There was a lot going on but it seemed quite straightforward. I do wonder if we have seem the last of the Lammles. I'm very glad to have Bella and John settled together for whatever comes next.


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The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910

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Oliver Twist (other topics)
Nicholas Nickleby (other topics)