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Subject who is better-Dora or Agnes?

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Publication 887 By dora_spenloy74 on Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 17:09   
Location: Bulgaria   Registered: Wednesday, July 19, 2006  Posts: 6    Search for other posts by dora_spenloy74 Search   Quote
2 really special girls in David`s life.

Publication 891 By deep_uttamkumar on Wednesday, August 9, 2006 at 21:15   
Location: India   Registered: Wednesday, August 9, 2006  Posts: 7    Search for other posts by deep_uttamkumar Search   Quote
AGNES NO DOUBT, AS SHE IS THE MOST VIRTUOUS, SENSIBLE TORCH-BEARER OF DAVID'S LIFE. HENCE DAVID JUSTLY QUOTES HER AS HIS 'GOOD ANGEL'.DORA HAS HER OWN CHARMS, BUT ,SHE IS TOO MUCH OF AN INEXPERIANCED 'MOUSE' AND REALLY A DOLL LIKE 'CHILD WIFE'.

Publication 902 By VIRGI on Monday, September 18, 2006 at 18:24   
Location: Argentina   Registered: Monday, September 18, 2006  Posts: 2    Search for other posts by VIRGI Search   Quote
Agnes is an angel. Dora is a human being. Regarding kindness and selflessness and etc., Agnes beats Dora, but regarding literary value, I would give more credit to Dora. At least she was a realistic, rather lifelike portrayal of an irresponsible, immature wife, while Agnes's depiction of a good wife never convinced me. She was WAY too ideal to be true.

Publication 1187 By Nibs on Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 19:59   
Location: United States   Registered: Wednesday, May 6, 2009  Posts: 48    Search for other posts by Nibs Search   Quote
Agnes is not an angel. David thinks she is an angel, but he also thought Dora is a fairy, Emily a princess, and Miss Larkin a goddess - none of which descriptions are rational or accurate. In fact, it is only after David has matured that we are allowed to see Agnes' true feelings when she cries and "becomes" agitated - not for the first time, simply for David's first observation. Agnes may have discipline - which Dora clearly lacks - but that does not mean she is inhuman. I really do like Dora but I think Agnes is cooler and more understated.

Publication 1188 By absent-minded on Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 03:12   
Location: Greece   Registered: Friday, June 29, 2001  Posts: -166    Search for other posts by absent-minded Search   Quote
I had not thought so far about two 'periods' of Agnes', corresponding to phases of David's maturing. Thanks for the comment. I wish you could elaborate on this more.

Publication 1189 By Nibs on Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 07:59   
Location: United States   Registered: Wednesday, May 6, 2009  Posts: 48    Search for other posts by Nibs Search   Quote
Well honestly, David has to be considered something of an "unreliable narrator" because time and again, we see his descriptions become inaccurate as they are so driven by his emotions. It gets to the point that you have to rely on the majority opinions of other, more sensible characters - like Betsey or Agnes - to fully give you the truth. If David thinks someone is a villain or a hero we have to hesitate, but if Betsey or Agnes gives her stamp of disapproval, we should probably pay attention.
As for Agnes herself, it seems fairly clear to everybody but David that she likes him. I don't think this is due to the fact that they are particularly perceptive, I think this is a hint that Agnes is being more obvious than we (and David) are thinking. Also, it's not Agnes' fault that she is being painted as an angel by David. He even turns a simple act (pointing upstairs to where Dora lays dead) into a beatific symbolic gesture. Agnes tries to convince him she's really not an angel but David won't listen.
As for her two "periods", it's just that I've noticed Agnes becomes more and more real - crying, laughing, agitated, reproachful - as the novel and David progresses. The same thing happened with Dora as she got progressively annoying. (Even Dora tried to tell David he had the wrong impression about her, just like Agnes.) I just think it's interesting that we place ALL our faith in David on this one subject instead of reading between the lines the way we do with other situations in the novel.
ETA: I also find it interesting that Uriah Heep was drawn to Agnes. If he's as base as he seems, he wasn't just attracted by Agnes' saintliness, which points to some physicality we are unaware of. David only describes her spirit: Uriah's attentions illustrate quite the opposite.

Publication 1207 By Marcy on Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 22:03   
Location: United States   Registered: Wednesday, July 16, 2008  Posts: 7    Search for other posts by Marcy Search   Quote
Agnes, all the way. I immediately liked her. She is someone I'd like as a friend--someone I could easily confide in and love. She's definitely one of my favorite characters in literature.

Anges IS a human being with very human emotions. At one point, she even seems annoyed and disappointed at David when she sees him drunk with his "friends." She seems to "act out" her joyous feelings for David and Dora's marriage, even when she has always been in love with David. She feels resentment towards Uriah Heep--and does something about it. She is simply a strong person who tries to do the right things.

Dora is weak. She can't survive on her own. Always dependent on David. She is charming and I think, unlike many readers, I began to sympathize for poor Dora as the marriage wears on. My dislike for her became pure sympathy. And when she dies, as heartbreaking as it is, I have to admit, I really thought to myself, "Well, now David can go and marry Agnes!"

Some human beings are weak, some are strong. Both Dora and Agnes are human beings.

Publication 1208 By Nibs on Monday, May 11, 2009 at 06:48   
Location: United States   Registered: Wednesday, May 6, 2009  Posts: 48    Search for other posts by Nibs Search   Quote
Quote: Originally posted by Marcy on Sunday, May 10, 2009


Anges IS a human being with very human emotions. At one point, she even seems annoyed and disappointed at David when she sees him drunk with his "friends." She seems to "act out" her joyous feelings for David and Dora's marriage, even when she has always been in love with David. She feels resentment towards Uriah Heep--and does something about it. She is simply a strong person who tries to do the right things.





I thoroughly agree with you. Someone like Kate Nickleby or Lucie Manette or even Esther Summerson would, I think, have a gentler reaction to David's drunkeness. But Agnes is humanly embarrassed and irritated and tells him to go home. Agnes also kind of teases and makes fun of David about his love life, i.e. "Guess who's going to be married, David, someone you like!" (When she knows he's madly in love with Miss Larkin). Or how she says she'll have to write down a table of all his love interests to keep them straight. And I positiviely love the way she handles Uriah Heep's blackmailing, and finally takes over control of the family's finances by becoming the breadwinner as a schoolteacher so her family won't be in danger because of her father again. She's subtle but she's got personality.

Publication 1209 By absent-minded on Monday, May 11, 2009 at 09:21   
Location: Greece   Registered: Friday, June 29, 2001  Posts: -166    Search for other posts by absent-minded Search   Quote
Yes, but do you remember Agnes ever making a mistake?

Publication 1211 By Nibs on Monday, May 11, 2009 at 10:12   
Location: United States   Registered: Wednesday, May 6, 2009  Posts: 48    Search for other posts by Nibs Search   Quote
Quote: Originally posted by absent-minded on Monday, May 11, 2009
Yes, but do you remember Agnes ever making a mistake?




Yep, a really big one - encouraging her father to make Uriah his partner when she knows it's a bad idea. Also the fact that she urges David to keep peace and "be kind" to Uriah even though he shouldn't, as well as hiding the fact that her father (supposedly) lost Betsey's money, and forgiving David for getting thoroughly drunk instead of giving him guidance. I also think she made mistakes in refusing other suitors for David because she was holding on to what "might be", instead of being rational at that point.

Publication 1213 By absent-minded on Monday, May 11, 2009 at 11:02   
Location: Greece   Registered: Friday, June 29, 2001  Posts: -166    Search for other posts by absent-minded Search   Quote
Not only when she lets her father enter partnership with Uriah, but even a long after this, Agnes is not very sure that Uriah is a bad person, as she says to David, "he professes humility and gratitude - with truth, perhaps: I hope so"... She is afraid of him, but even David is more sure about Uriah's evil. Beyond this, Agnes was confronted with a situation she could not change very much, since Uriah had become necessary to her father and she saw her father collapse after Uriah's decision to go away.

Even if we say that Agnes made a mistake, of course she had always the best of intentions, and she was not even sure about Uriah's intentions. She is perfect even in this 'mistake'. She never does a mistake that would reveal her subject to human frailties.

Publication 1214 By Nibs on Monday, May 11, 2009 at 12:58   
Location: United States   Registered: Wednesday, May 6, 2009  Posts: 48    Search for other posts by Nibs Search   Quote
Even if we say that Agnes made a mistake, of course she had always the best of intentions


I hardly think Agnes' habit of overlooking both her father's alcoholism and David's drunkenness can be due to good intentions. And waiting around for David when Agnes can find happiness elsewhere and David has clearly already found happiness - what good does that do? It's a clingingness and an inability to let go as much as it is loyalty.

Not only when she lets her father enter partnership with Uriah, but even a long after this, Agnes is not very sure that Uriah is a bad person, as she says to David, "he professes humility and gratitude - with truth, perhaps: I hope so"... She is afraid of him, but even David is more sure about Uriah's evil.

Here there are one of two situations because Uriah's evil is so obvious. Agnes is either in denial - ignoring and allowing the obvious in the hopes that everyone will just get along - or she is naive and proving to be a bad judge of character, which is also the source of all the mistakes made by David, Dora, Clara Copperfield, Emily, Mr. Wickfield, Betsey Trotwood, etc., etc. If that is the case we can also say that Agnes makes more mistakes than Peggotty, who knew Murdstone was evil immediately. It's not a good idea to try and classify mistakes because all mistakes are still mistakes.

It's fine to dislike Agnes' personality but not to claim she is "unreal". She laughs, cries, gets angry, gets embarrassed, makes poor decisions and mistakes, makes good decisions, turns into a pushover for the sake of keeping the peace, and feels and loves. I don't see how you can call that unreal, and it may be hard to imagine a real-life Agnes unless you've met one (I basically have). Dickens evidently met one in Mary Hogarth. Agnes is just as human as Dora, the only difference being that Agnes can actually handle things without freaking out. (Sorry Dora, but it's true.)

Publication 1215 By lotessora on Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 22:59   
Location: United States   Registered: Friday, September 5, 2008  Posts: 5    Search for other posts by lotessora Search   Quote
I prefer Dora because I relate to her more. I'd rather play with the dog than take on reality, too. Is it practical? No. But is it more fun than pining away patiently? Heck yes.

Now, I usually sympathize with girls suffering from unrequited love, but I just couldn't warm up to Agnes like I did to Dora. A lot of readers seem to forget that Dora, though childish and certainly not the brightest, has a strong sense of who she is and I personally think she is almost if not just as wise as Agnes. Like someone pointed out, she recognizes Agnes's virtues and realizes she'd make a better conventional wife for David.

There are obvious comparisons between Dora and Clara, but I think Dora has a far stronger will than David's mother. After all, she doesn't fall for Miss Murdstone's crap like Clara does. I think Dora's one of the most interesting characters because she represents such a series of contradictions: spoiled but supportive, annoying but good-hearted, childish but wise. She really does just want David to be happy. I'm not saying Agnes doesn't, but she's just too much the Victorian "Angel of the House" for my tastes. Dora's funnier and more memorable; honestly, I can't really remember much of anything Agnes ever said or did. However, some of my favorite parts of the novel are the ridiculous household arguments Dora and David have, and just the image of her sitting by the pagoda ringing bells angrily at Jip is enough to make me giggle.

Publication 1218 By Nibs on Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 09:28   
Location: United States   Registered: Wednesday, May 6, 2009  Posts: 48    Search for other posts by Nibs Search   Quote
Well lotessora, you've made some good points about Dora's character that makes her seem more believable and less simply "ditzy". She does seem to be stronger than David's mother.
I think both girls are real and have their own strengths and weaknesses, but just different people - not one is better in personality than the other, it just really comes down to which kind of girl is "better" for David. I think they're both good for David at different periods in his life.

Publication 1228 By lotessora on Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 11:59   
Location: United States   Registered: Friday, September 5, 2008  Posts: 5    Search for other posts by lotessora Search   Quote
Very good point, Nibs. I tend to be too harsh on Agnes, when it's true she has qualities of her own that make her appealing to someone creative and in need of stability like David. Neither character is simply "better" than the other--Agnes is the more conventional ideal, while Dora's quirkier and more playful. It all comes down to personal taste.

Publication 1229 By Nibs on Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 12:44   
Location: United States   Registered: Wednesday, May 6, 2009  Posts: 48    Search for other posts by Nibs Search   Quote
Yeah, I tend to be too harsh on Dora, too.

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