The depiction of education in Our Mutual Friend might be a criticism of the bourgeois idea. Discuss, addressing the following points: a) was the working class being given a chance through education b) what if Dickens is suggesting education is a false hope, being preferred by a hypocritical society c) how is Bradley Headstone drawn Is he portrayed with great imaginative sympathy
He uses a kaleidoscope of characters to illustrate the various kinds of education, or lack of, and there is an underlying irony in his depiction of many of his middle class characters.
One of the greatest contrasts Dickens' draws upon during the novel is between education and money. In the London society Dickens describes, for many, education does not matter as much as money. As mercenary Bella Wilfer exclaims at the end of Book III: 'And yet I have money always in my thoughts and my desires; and the whole life I place before myself is money, money, money, and what money can make of life!'1 Through his characterisation of individuals, such as Mr and Mrs Veneering, Dickens reveals how money can by you material possessions and social status but it cannot buy you education:
Mr and Mrs Veneering were bran-new people in a bran-new house in a bran-new quarter of London. Everything about the Veneerings was spick and span new. All their furniture was new, all their friends were new, and their servants were new, their plate was new, their carriage was new, their harness was new, their horses were new, their pictures were new, they themselves were new" (OMF, 5)
The Veneerin ...