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SEBASTIAN LEHNER
David Copperfield as an example of the Victorian socio-critical novel
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Page 26

7. “Oddities” – People Outside Society


The following point of criticism is not necessarily only related to the society of the 19th century, but is still very topical up to today. In those days, just as nowadays, the society was a very superficial one, judging only by looks and outer appearance, being of the opinion that the oustide unavoidably reflects the inside of  a person. Subsequently, people who suffered from injuries, physical disabilities or anomalities were not accepted in society and usually excluded from public life completely.
Dickens, however, wants to make clear in his novel that one should not let onself to be fooled by looks, but should look at the person itself instead, before making a judgement.

One of those so-called “oddities” in the novel is Miss Mowcher. She suffers from hyposomia, which is commonly called stunted growth and therefore has the appearance of a dwarf. So when David Copperfield meets her for the first time he is very amazed and surprised and describes her as a “pursy dwarf (…) with a very large head and face, a pair of rougish grey eyes, and (…) extremely little arms”[34]. At a first glance, as can easily be seen, she does not make a very good impression on him and to him she does probably not look very intelligent or capable of very much. But Dickens has designed her character in a special way, so she makes a completely different impression after some more observation.

[34] Dickens, Charles, David Copperfield, p.306

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