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date: 01 July 2022

Our Mutual Friend 

The Oxford Companion to English Literature
Dinah BirchDinah Birch

Charles *Dickens's last completed novel, published in monthly parts (May 1864–November 1865). The plot is exceptionally complex. John Harmon returns from the exile to which he has been sent by a harsh father, a rich dust‐contractor; he expects to receive the inheritance to which his father has attached the condition that he shall marry a certain girl, Bella Wilfer. Bella is unknown to him, and he confides to a mate of the ship which is bringing him home his intention of concealing his identity until he has formed some judgement of his allotted wife. The mate lures him to a riverside haunt, attempts to murder him, throws his body into the river, and is in turn murdered and his body likewise thrown into the river. Harmon recovers and escapes; the mate's body is found after some days, and, owing to Harmon's papers found upon it, it is taken to be that of Harmon. Harmon's intention of remaining unknown is thus facilitated; he assumes the name of John Rokesmith and becomes the secretary of the kindly, disinterested Mr Boffin, old Harmon's foreman, who, in default of young Harmon, inherits the property. He meets Bella, who is adopted by ... ...

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