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David Copperfield as an example of the Victorian socio-critical novel

Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House  

Page 19

5.  The Flight from Reality – The Example of Mr Micawber

As many people were in a very bad situation during the Age of Industrialism and thus suffering from difficult physical and mental conditions, poverty and the long hours at work, they tried to escape reality by making up their own imaginative world. In his novel, Dickens wants to draw attention to this fact and make his readers think about it. He finally comes to the conclusion that not looking away is a means to change the world, but that only by facing the social problems in reality, a decent solution can be provided. Especially for this purpose, the person of Mr Micawber has been created. It is an almost “Comic Character”[17], whose real situation in life differs a lot from the way he sees himself.

First of all he has a very huge family. A wife, “The baby was one of twins; (and) There were two other children.”[18] Of course, this is nothing unusual, as extended families are very common at that time in the 19th century. Furthermore, “Mr Micawber’s difficulties are almost overwhelming at present (…) If Mr Micawber’s creditors will not give him time.”[19], as Mrs Micawber states herself, in the novel. So one can see that he has huge monetary and financial problems, as well as many depts, which make life for a big family even more complicated. Neither does he have a proper job and thus is moving from job to job and lodging to lodging, just to keep his family going. And how difficult that is, we can learn from statements like “(…) there is nothing to eat in the house.”[20]

[17] Priestley, J.B., Readings On Charles Dickens, p118    [18] Dickens, Charles, David Copperfield, p.158
[19] Dickens, Charles, David Copperfield, p.158    [20] Dickens, Charles, David Copperfield, p.160

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