Our Mutual Friend is a novel written by Charles Dickens. It is one of the most known challenging and fictitious works by Charles Dickens with a group of characters. Our Mutual Friend is a novel that has a wide range of minor characters that are used for a variety of purposes in order to make the story complete. Dickens’ uses these minor characters in many instances in the novel, especially when there is a situation that needs to be solved or something has happened. The minor characters helps build the plot in the story and are used to present the main themes of the novel for instance, family relationships and inheritance. In addition, Dickens uses the minor characters to further the main issue sin the society, and to show the audience the differences between the upper, middle and the poor in the story, and how one can be mean even to her own children just to get wealthy.
One of the minor characters in Our Mutual Friend that is important is Mr. Inspector. Mr. Inspector is a police officer in the story and he is introduced in the story when there is an event that needs a police officer occurs. For instance, he acts as a witness when a corpse appears at the river (Dickens 24). Initially, the copse was mistaken as John Harmon, and there was a need for an inspector or rather a police officer to verify if the corpse was John Harmon’s or someone else. Mr. Inspector is an important character even though minor in the story because, he helps further some main issues in the story. Without Mr. Inspector, the corpse could have not been identified meaning, the people could have mistaken it for John Harmon. John Harmon had left his home after he was forced to marry a certain woman he never loved in order to inherit his father’s wealth (Grass 102). When he was away, they thought he drowned and was supposedly reported dead and so no one new him when he changed his identity. When he came back, he comes back with a different identity, John Rokesmith and works in a company close to his fathers. In addition, Mr. Inspector comes in when Gaffer was arrested for the murder of John Harmon. During this scene, Gaffer was arrested only to realize that John Harmon was still alive and it was with the help of Mr. Inspector that the real John Harmon is named. Mr. Inspector is an accomplished character in the story because; he helps solve mysteries that confuse the other characters in the novel. Moreover, he commands authority to the people in important events that needs the help of a law enforcing officer. Hence, as a minor character in the story, Mr. Inspector helps to solve issues in the story as well as with the justice system even though it seems flawed.
Other important minor characters that Dickens uses in Our Mutual Friend are Mr. and Mrs. John Podsnap. Mr. Podsnap is introduced as an arrogant and snobbish man from the upper class. He is a character who never cared about the people from the lower class and he was ready to disapprove anything that concerns’ anyone from the upper class and the lower class. For instance, Mr. Podsnap disapproved Eugene Wrayburn and Lizzie Hexam’s marriage because of the status quo. He could not allow them to get married because they were from different classes. In fact, Dickens uses Mr. Podsnap to represent the views of the society on the class issue. He is a character who is used to present class issues in the novel whereby, the upper class people are not allowed to marry or even mingle with the people who are not of their class. Mr. and Mrs. Podsnap were from the upper class and had a daughter, Georgiana Podsnap, but Mrs. Podsnap was the opposite of her husband. Even though she was from the elite class, she was the least important in the family. Moreover, although she embodies her husbands’ acquisitive ideas, Mrs. Podsnap is reflected as a fine woman of the upper class.
The minor characters in the story are vital because they help in furthering the major idea of the relationship between poor and rich people in society. Both Mr. and Mrs. John Podsnap and Mrs. Wilfer and her daughters represent the relationship between the poor and the rich in the story. Mrs. Wilfer was a poor woman with a poor background but her determination to become rich and associate with the upper class people forces her to marry off her daughters to rich men (Thurley 156). Another minor character that helps further the relationship between the poor and the rich in the story is Silas Wegg. Wegg was not from the upper class and he does everything to earn class by trying to con Mr. Boffin some money. In addition, there is Rogue Riderhood, who constantly blackmails the other characters in order to get money and have class yet he pretends that he never takes anything away from anyone unless he has worked for it.
The inclusion of the minor characters in Our Mutual Friend is vital because, Dickens uses them as society figures to help build the plot of the novel. The minor figures play an important role in the plot and the building of the main themes in the story (Hawes 98). The plot of the story revolves around these characters thus making the story incomplete without them. Without the minor characters in the story, the theme of the novel could not be depicted well because, they play an important role in helping he main characters solve their family issues. Our Mutual Friend is a mystery novel with lots of characters and many scenes but the novels main theme is made possible with the minor characters.
In conclusion, Our Mutual Friend is a challenging novel that uses the minor characters to help further the major issues and focuses of the book. Dickens uses the minor characters to present the major themes of the novel and to show the family relationships in the story. The author uses the characters of Mr. Inspector, Mr. and Mrs. Podsnap, and Mrs. Wilfer to build the plot of the book. These characters are minor in the story but they are used to depict important issues in the novel. Mr. and Mrs. Podsnap together with Mrs. Wilfer are used to present class issues in the story. In addition, Mrs. Wilfer is used to depict the relationship in the family whereby parents force their children into marriages in order to earn class and get wealthy. Dickens uses his characters to display a society whereby parents control the lives of their children and characters that have to change identities in order to know what is good for them. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens is a novel that makes good use of its minor characters to help further the major issues and focuses of the book and to help the major characters solve their miseries.
Dickens, Charles. Our Mutual Friend. New York: Modern Library, 2002. Print.
Thurley, Geoffrey. The Dickens Myth: Its Genesis and Structure. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1976. Print
Dickens, Charles. Our Mutual Friend with Illustrations. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1865. Print.
Hawes, Donald. Who's Who in Dickens. London: Routledge, 1998. Print.
Grass, Sean. Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend: A Publishing History. New York: Ashgate Publishing, Limited, 2014. Print.