By lotessora on
Friday, September 5, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
I, like VIRGI, have a problem with Agnes, not only Agnes herself, but the way that Dickens so shamelessly gushes over her. It came to a point where I felt such dread whenever she came into events, because I knew a conversation between her and David couldn't occur without David prefacing every comment with something like, "My dear good angel without whom I can't make a single decision, I so cherish the sight of your soft seraphic eyes, o sister of my boyhood...." Blech! Many people consider Dora insipid, but I'm afraid Agnes is more so in my eyes. I tend to enjoy characters with a bit more...I don't know...personality? Character flaws? Temper tantrums? I guess it comes down to "round vs. flat" characters. I know some people argue that Agnes's one big redeeming flaw is supposed to be having hidden her love for David, but even this seems more like just another long-suffering, saintly virtue of hers, waiting patiently in the wings for her true love. It's all too saccharine for me.
Dora, on the other hand, is my favorite character. She's immature, dependent, and a little nuts. In a nutshell, she's much more accessible and fun than Agnes. Yet at the same time, I think Dora's also a lot more wise than given credit for. She knows her limitations better than anyone recognizes their own throughout. She knows right from the start Agnes--being oh so perfect--would be a much better wife for David. Dora genuinely loves David, and because of this has misgivings from the very start about their union. Right after they're married, she asks David, "Are you happy now, you foolish boy? And sure you don't repent?" I like her self-deprecation, and her courage--that's right, I say courage--to turn her back on what the "ideal" wife should do, and frankly pursue her own interests. Heck, who hasn't had the urge to neglect reality in favor of playing with the dog? It may not be practical or productive, but I find it a relief to read about a character who does it anyways.
And as for her being a bad wife for David, I don't know. She could've been better, sure. She also could've been a lot worse (better he marry a copy of his mother than of Miss Murdstone, for example). People accuse Dora of being spoiled. I actually don't think she is, very much. Sure, she reacts hysterically when confronted with David's poverty shortly after they're engaged, but I'd react the same if my fiancee suddenly said, "Hey, honey! I'm a beggar." The fact disturbs her, but note how she offers him, even in her horror, all her money, instead of backing out of the engagement. And she still marries him, despite the fact she could live on quite comfortably at her aunts. She doesn't once demand anything of him when they're married, never complaining about what they're lacking. When she's sick, it's noted that she's always "merry" and never complains or moans. Her last deed is to give Agnes her blessing, which means her heart's wish is for her Doady to be happy. That sounds like a thoughtful wife to me.
While on the surface she may not appear to have any of Agnes's saintly virtues, I believe in her own child-wife way, Dora is just as wise and loves David just as much as Agnes. Given a few extra years, maybe Dora and David would have established a happy, albeit unconventional and somewhat impractical, life for themselves. Instead, she's killed off so pious Agnes can give David the conventional cookie-cutter home deemed appropriate for that time period.