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Our Mutual Friend
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Archived Group Reads 2019 > Our Mutual Friend: Week 7: Chapters IX-XIV (Book 3)

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message 1: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1023 comments Mod
Poor Betty Higden is dead, but has kept her self-respect intact till the end, the Boffins too respecting this allowing her burial to be simple, paid for only by the money she’d kept apart from it. Bella and Rokesmith attend, as does Lizzie, and they are keen to discover the reasons behind Lizzie’s disappearance. She confesses all to the ‘Boffer’ lady, and to us readers as well, and we know now from her directly that she cares for Eugene. There’s some more confession before this, as Bella lets Rokesmith know that she is unhappy with the changes in Mr Boffin though she remains grateful to him. Roskesmith too admits to the change in the Golden Dustman’s attitude. Where will these changes lead for Mr Boffin? They are certainly leading Bella to question her mercenary ideas in some ways, since she is beginning to see how money can corrupt.

Meanwhile the Doll’s dressmaker proved to be both perceptive and not so perceptive this week. She saw through Eugene’s pretences and fake story about his ‘goddaughter’, keeping Lizzie’s whereabouts safe, but when it came to the sly Fledgeby, she was not able to see though his act and now believes that Mr Riah is not the kind person that she thought him, not the fairy godmother but the wolf. With her own father attempting to get money (money again here) for his three-pen’orths of rum, he is likely to see Lizzie out, and I’m afraid Jenny might end up blaming poor Mr Riah for it.

Money continues to be a thread that runs through the book this week in other ways too. Fledgeby is now tightening the screws on everyone he can, starting with the Lammles as he had already indicated, and followed by his ‘relation’ of sorts, Mr Twemlow, who is stuck for no fault of his own. Poor Mr Riah wants to show some mercy, but must quietly bear the blame. The Lammles are hard-pressed and are attempting to scheme again. This time, the plan seems to be to get Rokesmith ousted from his posts based on the secret Bella unwittingly let slip, and for Mr Lammle to take his place and bleed him dry (or as much as he can at any rate).

Mr Wegg too is preparing to put into action his plan to blackmail Mr Boffin but Mr Venus surprises us a little by revealing all to Mr Boffin, and refusing to act on either side of the matter. But is the matter of this second will true? Does this mean Mr Boffin is to lose all? Or will he manage to foil Silas Wegg’s plans?

While most of our ‘villains’ are concerned with making money in various ways, the most dangerous one, Bradley Headstone is not. The murderous rage that takes possession of him when he is trailing Eugene is terrifying, and in some ways, more so the fact that he manages to switch to a school-day routine, as if simply pressing a button. Eugene is playing a game with him which he might deserve, but which will also drive him further over the edge, so one wonders whether there is any sense in this?

And now, he’s teamed up with Riderhood, who we discover is the lockkeeper who probably took all of Betty Hidgen’s money. This can’t be good for Eugene, and when Lizzie’s whereabouts are revealed, it won’t be long before Headstone discovers them as well, certainly making us fear for her.

Not as exciting as some segments, but definitely plenty happening. What did you think? And how do you date Headstone among Dickens’ ‘villains’?


message 2: by Piyangie, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Piyangie | 780 comments Mod
I still cannot fathom the change in Mr. Boffin. Bella seems really concerned the effect of money has on Boffin which puts herself in a favourable light.

Rokesmith seems to sense the change in Bella. And he is pleased. It also seems that Bella desires to have Rokesmith's good opinion. It looks as if Bella is developing feelings towards him.


message 3: by Piyangie, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Piyangie | 780 comments Mod
Lizzy reveals her heart to Bella. This confirmed what I felt already, and that is she loves Eugene. We are still to see whether this love will be reciprocated. Eugene obviously care for Lizzy but beyond that it hard to predict at this point.

Eugene is however playing a dangerous game with Headstone. He is a dangerous man capable of potent rage. And now Headstone has teamed with Riderhood. Nothing good can come from such a union. I fear for Lizzy and Eugene both.


message 4: by Piyangie, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Piyangie | 780 comments Mod
Fledgeby is showing his true colours. He is such a vile man. I felt so sorry for Riah. Poor fellow who is unjustly blamed for Feldgeby's treachery. With that all, Riah seems to be losing the good opinion of Jenny.


message 5: by Piyangie, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Piyangie | 780 comments Mod
Lammles are plotting again. This time their victim is Mr. Boffin. It is interesting to see how this will progress. Boffin becoming the cunning miser he is, I wonder how Mr. Lammle will succeed.

Lammles have understood one thing right - and that is that Mr. Boffin is protected while Rokesmith is there. So they want him out. They have found a weapon against Rokesmith and they are about to strike. I'm really curious about this outcome.


message 6: by Piyangie, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Piyangie | 780 comments Mod
There are number of villains here, and as Mallika has rightly said most are concerned with making money (Fledgeby, Lammles, Wegg and Riderhood) But Headstone is another story. He is driven by a jealous rage. I think he is the most dangerous of all. I've not read many works of Dickens, but Headstone is the most vile villain that I have come across so far.


message 7: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1023 comments Mod
Piyangie wrote: "Lizzy reveals her heart to Bella. This confirmed what I felt already, and that is she loves Eugene. We are still to see whether this love will be reciprocated. Eugene obviously care for Lizzy but b..."

In Eugene's case, it isn't so much a question of whether he reciprocates Lizzie's feelings--it seems that he does in his way--but a question of whether their social situations would let him express those feelings, act on them, or merely hinder him.


message 8: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1023 comments Mod
Piyangie wrote: "There are number of villains here, and as Mallika has rightly said most are concerned with making money (Fledgeby, Lammles, Wegg and Riderhood) But Headstone is another story. He is driven by a jea..."

Headstone is certainly the exception here-while the whole lot of others, villains or otherwise are concerned with money--from Mr Dolls and his three-penceworth of rum, to Wegg who wants to blackmail, to the Lammles who want to cheat to Mr Boffin who is turning a miser-even Bella who is beginning to see the downside of wealth.


message 9: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1023 comments Mod
Piyangie wrote: "There are number of villains here, and as Mallika has rightly said most are concerned with making money (Fledgeby, Lammles, Wegg and Riderhood) But Headstone is another story. He is driven by a jea..."

Dickens can certainly write some creepy and sinister villains--Headstone here is obsessive, Mr Quilp and to a degree Pecksniff are slimy--and Madame Defarge sinister.


message 10: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1023 comments Mod
Piyangie wrote: "Fledgeby is showing his true colours. He is such a vile man. I felt so sorry for Riah. Poor fellow who is unjustly blamed for Feldgeby's treachery. With that all, Riah seems to be losing the good o..."

I was rather surprised at Jenny as usually she seems able to see through people but Fledgeby seems to have her fooled.


message 11: by Piyangie, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Piyangie | 780 comments Mod
Lady Clementina wrote: "In Eugene's case, it isn't so much a question of whether he reciprocates Lizzie's feelings--it seems that he does in his way--but a question of whether their social situations would let him express those feelings, act on them, or merely hinder him. ..."

I don't deny that Eugene has feelings for Lizzy. But whether they are stronger like that of Lizzy is a question. I can understand the class barrier working as a major obstacle in Eugene's mind to put a stop to the development of deeper feelings. But if by any chance Eugene develops stronger feelings for Lizzy, he would break all the barriers. Even with his careless ways, he still have a strong will power.


message 12: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (last edited Apr 14, 2019 08:41PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1023 comments Mod
Piyangie wrote: "Lady Clementina wrote: "In Eugene's case, it isn't so much a question of whether he reciprocates Lizzie's feelings--it seems that he does in his way--but a question of whether their social situatio..."

True. So far, he seems to be struggling with his feelings, and perhaps hasn't quite understood them.


message 13: by Nina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nina Clare | 135 comments Piyangie wrote: "There are number of villains here, and as Mallika has rightly said most are concerned with making money (Fledgeby, Lammles, Wegg and Riderhood) But Headstone is another story. He is driven by a jea..."

Dickens is certainly good at villains, but I think his worst ones are the women and children abusers - Sykes, Squeers, Murdstone. Fledgeby revolts me with his anti-semitism, a common prejudice in Victorian England, and Rider is a nasty character, but I agree that Headstone is different - it's not sheer brutality or greed with him, it's something more psychological, and sinister...


message 14: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1023 comments Mod
Nina wrote: "Piyangie wrote: "There are number of villains here, and as Mallika has rightly said most are concerned with making money (Fledgeby, Lammles, Wegg and Riderhood) But Headstone is another story. He i..."

Headstone is like those obsessive stalkers one sees in films--sinister, and very dangerous. I find him particularly scary since he is able to switch to his teacher persona so easily.


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