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Subject Agnes-David-Dora Love Triangle

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Publication 105 By verram on Sunday, August 26, 2001 at 21:04   
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While reading the book, I could not help feeling why on earth would David marry Dora when it seems all along that Agnes (his "good angel") is the right girl to choose. It is only because David was initially infatuated with Dora that he married her and he soon realised this fact a year and a half later after they got married - he kept referring to Mrs. Annie Strong's statement that you shouldn't get married if you have differing minds and purpose or something like that. Personally, all I have to say is that I liked Agnes all along, and I can't believe David (as likable as he is) did not just marry Agnes in the first place - oh well, I guess he only thought of her as "his sister" but still...

Also, David felt some sort of "obligation" towards Dora (his friend). After Mr. Spenlow's death, David felt obliged to look after Dora so that she wouldn't be alone in the world, knowing how fragile Dora's character is. Thus, David chose to marry Dora (as opposed to marrying the right girl Agnes) to show his companionship towards Dora. David didn't want Dora to feel (and be) alone in the world, the way he was in his childhood.

David is the ultimate "nice guy", isn't he?

Publication 106 By ttracy on Sunday, August 26, 2001 at 21:05   
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It is true that David was infatuated with Dora. He was completely unaware the whole time that he really loved Agnes. Thus Betsy Trotwood's comments "blind, blind"! David is blind to who he really loves. When he goes to Switzerland, it occurs to him that he loves Agnes, and should return to her. I do not think that he married Dora becuase she was pretty or because he felt obligated. He married her because he loved her with all of his heart. This is why the theme of "the undisciplined heart" is perpetuated throughout the novel.

Publication 107 By verram on Sunday, August 26, 2001 at 21:06   
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I think you have to distinguish between "love" and "infatuation". I believe what David had for Agnes was love, while more infatuation/lust for Dora.

I think the fact that David is infatuated by Dora is still part of that theme "undisciplined heart" you are talking about. David is indeed infatuated by Dora's physical beauty mostly, and her girlish charms. But everytime they have an intimate or serious conversation, you could tell that they never got along because of Dora's character. Yes, as the marriage went on, David grew to love Dora for what she was, but the shadow of Agnes was always there in that relationship, that indeed Agnes was the right girl for David.

Publication 108 By mhearn on Sunday, August 26, 2001 at 21:07   
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I have had a lifelong love affair with "David Copperfield" since I first read it at the age of 9. What I got out of it then, as opposed to now, currently my sixth reading, has changed to be sure, but I can recall understanding David's wanting to marry Dora, as I once wanted to myself. Aside from physical attraction and the fact that Dora is, essentially, David's peer version of his mother, there is a great need for David on his part and at this stage of life to have someone to take care of, be the protector, as he carries some guilt at not being able to protect his mother from the ills that befell her. (And Dora loses her father, just as Clara loses DC senior.) It would be unnatural for David as he is NOT to be drawn to Dora--or anyone not to be captivated by Maureen O'Sullivan's deptiction of her in the 1935 MGM Selznick/Cukor movie.

As for Agnes, well.....As I matured of course I could see that Agnes is the one for David. We know this almost as soon as she enters the story. And who among us, myself included would give a king's ransom to hear directed at them the words Agnes says to David at the end, what we have known all along--"I have loved you all my life!" That and Dora's death are two scenes I have to be alone reading, as I weep copiously. (Digressing back to Dora for a second, one thing that makes her death so heartbreaking is that the reader realizes that even she, to her credit, at the end, knew that Agnes was the one for David--a fact which Agnes herself reveals to David.) But Agnes, angel that she is, has her dark side. In nurturing her father by overlooking his alcoholism, she brings on the tragedy meted out by Uriah Heep; in modern parlance Agnes can very well be called Literature's Greatest Enabler. This should not blind the reader to her emotional strength with David; instead it humanizes Agnes to a degree. Without her character flaws, she would be so angelic as to be nauseating. Like Dora, Agnes is also irresistable--but in a different way--and Madge Evans in the aforementioned film does not just play Agnes, she IS Agnes. Do Agneses exist out there? I leave one to answer that question rhetorically.

Publication 162 By don38 on Thursday, September 6, 2001 at 22:43   
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Why does David marry Dora? Because his infatuation with her held a tight grip on his choices after he first seen her. It might be Dicken's take on "Love at First Sight" as being silly. All through the novel the themes of diligence and discipline are dominant, and proper. Dickens perhaps feels that although Love At First Sight may exist, it is not necessarily the best for us. i agree with the post above emphasizing the undisciplined heart theme. Agnes was better suited for David, but his heart is young and wild. The happy circumstance being that Agnes was still single when Dora died. David would not leave Dora, just because he fell in love with someone else. I don't think David would have left Dora years later because he was an embodiment of integrity. To be an angelic person, one must behave like an angel. Dickens shows the results of marital discontinuity through Betsy. It affected her adversely, and she made life for those around her very difficult. Just a thought.

Publication 312 By alon345 on Thursday, May 30, 2002 at 20:41   
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With regard to the love triangle bear in mind that Agnes was incapable of leaving her father subjected to Uriah Heep's usurpation. Consequently in order to materialize their love Uriah Heep had to be disposed. David didn't leave Dora owing to Agnes' predicament. He didn't desert her since he had not formed the resolution to marry Agnes which three years of isolation from his surroundings led him to. His loyalty to Dora did not seem a main consideration but deserting Dora during her illness in favour of Agnes seemed highly improbable.

Publication 351 By Christine on Sunday, August 25, 2002 at 11:13   
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In regard to David's supposed infatuation with Dora, the idea that he married her due to his love at first sight--though the idea of love at first sight is more realistically labeled as infatuation, he remains overwhelmed with Dora and devoted to her for a long time after their first meeting. Even if his initial encounter constituted infatuation, his long-term devotion, his willingness to remain so devout after their first fight, and his long-term plans and hard work to ascertain a chance at winning Dr. Spenlow's permission to marry his daughter despite is Aunt's (and consequently his) economic downfall, point to a sense of maturity in those initial feelings, and lead one to translate David's motives as those spurred by true love. David loved Agnes, as well, though he loved her as a sister and a best friend, and it wasn't until later that he realized that your mate should be your best friend; he never really entertained the idea of marrying Agnes until much further down the road.

Publication 364 By Drew on Saturday, November 2, 2002 at 11:56   
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When reading David Copperfield, it seems plain from the getgo that Agnes should be David's wife. However, when it does not happen and he marries Dora instead, one is left wondering why? However, you have to look at the story from the point of view of the author, not Dickens, but Copperfield himself. He is writing his autobiography while married to Dora. She is the one that he is waking up to every morning while writing it. She is the one taking care of him and his children. SHe is the one taking the time to review his manuscripts and edit his mistakes. It seems only natural that as he writes about his past that he would remember more clearly how good and perfect she was for him at all times, and in this way he admits to the Agnes that is editing his story, that he was blind for so long.
I would also like to put in a good word for Dora. I read somewhere wlse on this site that it was strange and unnatural for Dora to reccomend Agnes to be David's next wife. I actually could not think of anything more natural. Dora knows she is dying, and she is finally coming to terms with the reality she ahs ignored for so many years. She realizes that David is still young and that it is possible for him to remarry. She doesn't want him to marry just anyone, she knows hoew good Dora is for him, but she doesn't say to David, "You should marry Agnes after I die." She tells Agnes that her spot should not be occupied by anyone else but her. It leaves the decision up to David , but lets Agnes know that Dora approves if it should happen.

Publication 369 By Shaun on Thursday, November 7, 2002 at 18:46   
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quick note to mhearn - shortly after Aunt Betsey's revelation of her new impoverished position (My Aunt Surprises Me) David, Agnes, and Mr. Wickfield all dine together - during there dinner, DC notes that, as usual, Wickfield drank the wine Agnes poured for him, and no more. It is clear that she does indeed control the amount of alcohol he drinks. I think I have to disagree with you when you say that she overlooks his alcoholism.

Publication 686 By Jimmy_Connerly on Friday, December 3, 2004 at 03:11   
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Quote: Originally posted by Shaun on Thursday, November 07, 2002
quick note to mhearn - shortly after Aunt Betsey's revelation of her new impoverished position (My Aunt Surprises Me) David, Agnes, and Mr. Wickfield all dine together - during there dinner, DC notes that, as usual, Wickfield drank the wine Agnes poured for him, and no more. It is clear that she does indeed control the amount of alcohol he drinks. I think I have to disagree with you when you say that she overlooks his alcoholism.

Yes, that's right, similarly, when she tells him tactfully that he's tired. He puts his wine down, makes his goodnight and goes to bed.

Publication 718 By t on Sunday, February 6, 2005 at 18:27   
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After reading the book, I felt that indeed Dora and David were a mismatch, but they had all the love in the world for each other and nothing could have broken that due to the personnage and loyalty of both. I think Dickens takes a respectful distance to love-at-first-sight. He chooses to romanticize over it, but keeps a practical view. He shows David and Dora's marriage as loving and happy but he explicitly implies that it's not ideal. It's a dilemma, you could love someone or something for loving you, such as a pet or plaything, but for them to keep you companion through life and growth is another matter. The thing I don't understand the most is Agnes' love, no one seems to question it, and just accepts that it's profound. Part of that is due to David's emulation of Agnes, and the other part patience and hope. Yet is theirs not also another love at first sight which grows to mutual respect, and care?

Publication 779 By Armchairhero on Sunday, July 24, 2005 at 18:21   
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I bileve anges was the dora, that dora never was. Anges could run the house, peacefully, and she was mature, Dora never could be her, but anges could be Dora, and that is why david married her.


Publication 782 By justme711 on Sunday, July 24, 2005 at 21:13   
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David is the ultimate "nice guy", isn't he?
Yes, indeed he most certainly is!

Publication 797 By DarkDude on Sunday, August 14, 2005 at 05:05   
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I too was screaming "Marry Agnes you twit!" throughout most of this book however I can understand David's love for Dora, and yes I think it was indeed a LOVE not a lust or infatuation. Dora was kind and sweet and she really DID love him dearly, Agnes did too, but he was sooo close to her that he didn't see it (kinda like putting your hand so close to your eyes that you don't see the details). Besides, David and Dora despite their mishaps would have been very happy together they loved each other infinitely. Agnes was the better woman, but you have to give Dora her credit.

Publication 810 By Sarah G. on Sunday, December 4, 2005 at 00:33   
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        As a child David was deprived of his father and was brought up by his mother whom he became very attached to. Though she was represented as "a wax doll", helpless,and weak in health and character "she hung her head, as if it were her fault,poor thing and said sobbing, that indeed she was afraid she was but a childish widow, and would be but a childish mother if she lived" she was a great idol to David. However,he was deprived from her at a young age.
        Inaddition, there is a great resemblance between Dora and Clara Copperfield physically,and in behavior. Both are pretty,rather spoiled and vain, but love David. Dora as clara hates and fears hearing her faults and bursts into tears at the gentlest reproch. They are both childish figures given more responsibilty than they can afford.
        Therfore, it is very clear that David is attracted to Dora due to the graet resemblance between her and his mother. It is obvious that she only represented to him the figure of the "lost mother" merely a pretty statue of the dead mother.Furthermore,since Dora was so fragile, David might have thought that he must protect her from another "Mr.Murdstone".However as soon as he recovers he marries his true love (which ia a far better mental choice) Agness.

Publication 828 By neilien on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 04:52   
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David and Agnes were brought up together, so I suppose one couldn't turn 17 one day, and suddenly realise he had romantic feelings for his childhood playmate.

After his (not so completely happy) marriage to Dora, and a considerable amount of time living apart from Agnes, it would be rather natural for him to then understand his actual feelings and love for Agnes.

Publication 868 By allegrabarnes on Thursday, May 11, 2006 at 18:22   
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David was young and still learning the differance between love and infatuation. Dora was his infatuation, Agnes his true love. Without that in the book it would be less realistic because most people in real life don't find their true love the first time they date. It takes time. I felt it was good that he was infatuated it shows his humanity and makes him appear more like a real person. With real people strifes in love life. David was a very dynamic character and I applaud Charles Dickens for that!!! If David was flat the story would be boring.

Publication 900 By a humble critic on Saturday, September 16, 2006 at 19:03   
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David Copperfield, the character, is of a naturally affectionate disposition. In his childhood, he grew up under the influence of two gentle and doting women, namely his mother Clara and Peggoty, neither of whom in any way tried to form his character by setting an ideal. Therefore, he was left to find his role-model, his "hero", by himself. In the meantime, he adored his pretty, good-natured mother. After his mother's second marriage, his relationship with her became restrained due to his step-father's dominating presence. Nevertheless, David was too young to blame his mother's lack of firmness of character, and continued loving her. Following her death, he forgot all the unhappiness that his mother's silliness had caused him, and remembered her only with love and a sense of longing.

When he later met Agnes Wickfield, he was at once impressed by her self-possession and balance, and the orderly way in which she ran her father's house. Her good sense was something which David had never encountered in his mother, or even in the rather eccentric Betsey Trotwood. So he grew to depend upon her. He regarded her as his better self and "second nature", thus "supplanting for the time the first and greater one" of loving her.

At seventeen years of age, David came across Dora, who, in her prettiness, charm, and childishly silly behaviour, reminded him strongly of his dear mother for whom he had never ceased longing deep down. Thus, what had started as an infatuation actually deepened into love, leading on to David and Dora's marriage.

However, like his mother, Dora had not much good sense in practical matters and keeping the house. So even though he loved her as he had loved his mother, David sensed a lack of an 'indefinite something' (Agnes'good sense) in her. He could never discuss serious matters with her, nor confide his worries in her, because Dora hated "being reasoned with".So David ended up taking both the roles of money-earner and house-keeper for himself.(Do we catch a glimpse of David Copperfield Snr and Clara Copperfield's married life, here?)

David felt a lack of fullfillment in his married life, and this cast a "shadow" upon their otherwise happy state of affairs. In his mind, David kept repeating Mrs Stong's words "there can be no disparity in marriage like unsuitability of mind and purpose". In other words, he was evaluating his own marriage. (Was he already beginning to have second thoughts about Agnes? He does not tell us). Nevertheless, he continued loving Dora and accepted her for what she was.

At Dora's untimely death, David was heart-broken. To escspe from the scene of tragedy, he went abroad to Switzerland, where he could eventually start thinking things over in a calmer way. Being a widower, he could freely admit to his conscience his love for Agnes. He therefore understood the sense of lacking in his marriage, and attributed the cause to Agnes' maturity, which had never been there in Dora. He also realised that Agnes was the person who could improve his nature and help him become the man he was destined to be. Agnes was the "hero" of his life. She should have been his wife from the very beginning.

In the end, in his marriage with Agnes, David got the much-yearned-for fullfillment . His mother and Dora's spirits remained untarnished in his memory, without any moral or spiritual struggle. Life with Agnes was in truth "blissful". David became the complete man. He had at last found himself in harmony with all his life and ideals.

Publication 901 By VIRGI on Monday, September 18, 2006 at 17:48   
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I know I might get yelled at, but I actually disliked Agnes, not Dora. Well, not exactly HER, in fact. She's so gentle and so wise, I can't truly loathe her, what I TRULY loathe about her is that she is supposed to be human. If you're going to create such a flawless, saintly character, at least elevate her to another level�like Belldandy from Oh! My Goddess�she's perfect, but she's meant to be that way: she's a Goddess. Or at any rate, give her small flaws, like Tohru Honda from Fruits Basket. She's really really really kind, but to a fault. Actually, I believe her extreme kindness (nearly unhealthy, I'd say) is indeed her biggest flaw too.

But... I don't know, Agnes' character somehow irked me. She appeared to be a measly wish-fulfillment from Dickens' part, the almost offensively idealized wife he always longed for and never got, as people like Agnes doesn't exist in real life. I was plain revolted by Dickens' selfish and chauvinistic outlook on the man/hero happily living his life outside and flirting with other girls while his true love, the heroine, just stands there and quietly waits for and loves him forever. Even if it wasn't purposal, it was still annoying. Whereas Dora may be stupid and childish, she's human (and definitely NOT the selfish bitch everyone make her look like). Agnes is not human; she's an angel, a goddess, a nymph, or any other of those flattering words David used to describe Dora upon their first meeting. Hey, Agnes even beats Belldandy in perfection, which I didn't think it was possible till I re-read the book a week ago.

Little note: Sorry for bringing up anime titles you may not know. I'm an eager anime fan^_^.

Publication 979 By jkim on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 00:48   
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Charles Dickens' idea of love through David makes me uncomfortable in a way. It seems like there's little hope for a perfect love (?). I looked up his religious status and it says he was a Anglican Christian for his upbringing and then became interested in Unitarian Christianity later on. I'm not certain on what his belief background is - but it seems there's no one 'right' woman for David and this disturbs me.

During David and Emily's childish days - I thought they were a perfect combination for each other. A relationship between them would mean overcoming social boundaries, and when Emily said as a child she always wished to be a lady, I thought it was a foreshadow of her future relationship with David. But instead, Charles Dickens decided to completely obliviate her and denounce her character and therefore her upbringing. (Which, I thought was unfair and cruel to the underclass).

Next, his relationship with Dora seemed completely a surprise. Like many of you said, it was something of infatuation and lust (for money? social status? maybe). It seemed completely immature and out of anything worthy of marriage, yet they got married! It made it seem like marriage to Dickens was as simple and dull as that.

Then there's Agnes - the simple representation of everything David always aspired for. He seems to be a combination of love for greatness in virtue (devotion to parent, charity or compassion to lower class, and respect for goodness) and love for a higher status or level in society, which he earnestly earned after finding his aunt. But it seems like the two virtues cannot be enjoyed together - virtue of wealth (in society) and virtue of character (as in the spirit or a person's personality). That's why David escaped to a wild love affair with Dora as his consolation to Agnes' love (and even Emily's perhaps). And only after Dora died and he had proved his 'umble' heart, as Uriah might say, he was able to pursue higher love for Agnes. This was also only when David could really give deeper respect for Dora because throughout her life, she was only a child-wife with nothing really to be esteemed for, except maybe her wealth.

These are just my tangled thoughts of David's love affairs. My only question is now, what about Emily?

Publication 1059 By poorclaire22 on Sunday, November 25, 2007 at 08:11   
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I too, was mystified that Dickens would have David be so thick-headed about Dora and Agnes but as I researched his life, it began to make sense. Dickens was I believe, attempting to put together the pieces of his own history which included most definitely, a "Dora" figure named Maria Beadnell. That Dora is based upon her there is no doubt. But what about Agnes? It's my belief that Agnes represents in all of her "good angel" qualities, Mary Hogarth, his wife's sister who died in Dickens' arms when she was just seventeen years old. In effect, circumstances being what they were at the time, Dickens married the wrong Hogarth sister and through a novel, was able to correct and realize what could not be corrected and realized in real life. (the beauty of writing fiction) The oddest part is that almost no one (including his wife and kids) knew any of the autobiographical elements of David Copperfield until three years after he died.

Personally, I rather liked the way Dickens -as he represents himself through the character of David Copperfield- could "admit" so to speak, to not being the sharpest tool in the shed when it came to love. There's something charming about that kind of humility in a man.

Publication 1082 By lijindu on Monday, March 24, 2008 at 06:54   
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perfect!i want to write a paper about their triangle love.i fine some perfect ideas from here!thanks!

Publication 1143 By lotessora on Friday, September 5, 2008 at 01:31   
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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.

Publication 1144 By absent-minded on Friday, September 5, 2008 at 02:06   
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David could not have loved an unworthy creature. Dickens gave Dora the qualities you rightly describe, but which are seldom recognised as such by critics, compared with Agnes' over-idealized virtues.

Publication 1230 By Nibs on Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 07:35   
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I think Drew makes one of the best points I have seen about the influence and involvement of David's wife during the "writing" of the novel (although I think he meant Agnes was taking care of David and the kids, not Dora). In fact, I think a lot of people fail to distinguish between Dickens as narrator and David as narrator. In his third-person novels the commentary and opinion of the narrator is Dickens'. But in DC, the character David is narrating and we are reading the life and observations of an adult Copperfield, as he sees it and wants it told.

Anyway, on topic, something I've recently been noticing about David's role with these two women is the toned-down similarity with other, dysfunctional relations in the novel, and here David is the villain. Of course David/Dora is a diluted version of the Murdstone/Clara romance, but their courtship - David's attraction to Dora who herself is "very young still", the jealousy he feels toward anyone who tries to separate them, her father as his disapproving law employer - is really similar to Uriah's pursuit of Agnes.

And Agnes' silent attachment to David is reminding me a lot of Rosa Dartle's stifled obssession with Steerforth, which developed after they grow up in the same house - and David's marriage to Dora is a lot like Steerforth's fling with Emily. (Agnes' "loyalty" also reminds me of Mrs. Micawber's "I'll never desert you!") A lot like Rosa, Agnes is suffering in this relationship, but David's romanticized narration causes us to forget that. But think how different the "bad" relationships in the novel would seem if we were hearing it from the POV of Steerforth, Uriah, or Murdstone, who could justify themselves! It just makes you wonder about hypocrisy in the novel - if deep down David is really as hugely different from these men as he insists.

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