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David Copperfield Essay

September 3rd, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Throughout David Copperfield, the majority of the characters are not described in great depth. David appears to be the only character that Dickens truly makes dimensional. The changes that I see as evident among characters are their personalities and the way they interact with others. For example, Dickens made Clara Copperfield’s change in behavior quite pronounced, especially after she married Mr. Murdstone. Her usual loving and energetic behavior towards David was forced to an end. She could no longer show emotion towards David or much else for that matter. Clara must begin to act as a “lady” and not as a child. Mr. Murdstone couldn’t comprehend how she ever ran an efficient household before he and his sister came into the picture. Clara and David were not equipped to run a house of their own, and someone looking as beautiful as Clara was not supposed to do chores around the house, as she was accustom, so the Murdstone’s thought.

The changes that become evident in the characters, seem to be changed by someone else’s influence upon them. David becomes a much more closed individual as does his mother. They are both changed due to the influence that the Murdstone’s have on them. The general love that they felt towards each other seems to have been removed, and the two are no longer allowed to show affection towards one another.

When a person reflects on their lifetime, they see many things in which they may or may not like. David, having a hard and difficult childhood, hopefully looks at the things that were unpleasant at the time, and realizes that he grew and matured. Nothing ever seems to come easy, and life is full of many bumps and bruises. Unfortunately for David, he acquired many bruises along the way, and not just to the heart. It seems unfortunate that a child like David, who appears to be bright and loving, would have to be put through so many horrors.

Learning to be a strong person and to believe in one’s self is an important lesson that David seems to have come to understand. One of the lessons that David learned was never to take a person’s word for granted. To many times he was taken advantage of, simply due to the fact that he assumed every person would be kind and willing to help him along the way. There are many things that a person learns throughout their lifetime: not to always take a person’s word for granted, not everything that you hear is true, each person is an individual, even if they seem to conform to a group or society itself, and there are many more. I believe that these are just a few of the more important lessons that were apparent in David’s life.

The entire Victorian community wanted to be upper class, so it seemed. These were the people who appeared to “have it all”. Not necessarily did this come into view through out the whole book of David Copperfield, but some parts. Particularly when he went on his trip with Peggotty, to see Ham. David could not believe that they would be staying in an up-side-down boat, since it wasn’t something that was considered normal for society. On the other hand, it was very exciting and adventurous. During the same adventure when Little Emily said that she wanted to be a lady, and that was really all that she seemed to want. Then again when he was sent away, he saw and stayed with poor families. They might only have had the clothing on their backs, but they were happy together, not trying to be something that they were not. In deed, they all might have wished that they were rich, and able to take part in what was considered to be society at the time, yet they happily lived day to day as they were. Simply accepting that they were lower class, and that was going to be their place in society. It seems that people always secretly wished that they were something they were not, yet lived in the fact of knowing there would be no change to their place in society. Possibly it was the simple fact of knowing that there was not going to be a change in their families’ economic standing, so they tried to live happily anyway.

Once again I am brought back to when David was living at home. David wanted to please his mother and Mr. Murdstone, he tried excessively hard for as much as these Murdstone’s intimidated him, yet he just seemed to fall short of their approval. The same seemed to be true with his mother. Clara wanted to be everything that Ms. Murdstone was trying to teach her, yet she still yearned to be a young freehearted soul, secretly. The rules of society appeared to be very rigid and unbreakable, but the other side of this, was they never seemed to be openly spoke of. Everyone knew of these rules, and how to abide by them, yet no one sat down to write them out for the poor Copperfield’s. David caught on to how he was supposed to act as he grew older and the longer he was out in society.
I was getting the feeling that all of these people wanted to form to the rules and regulations of society, yet there was an urge to be something completely different. The thought of bending the rules to some was exciting and thrilling. Rebelling against the strict society was interesting.

Evil. This was something that seemed to be implied throughout the book, yet not discussed in to many words. The Murdstone’s seemed to be evil in the eyes of the young Copperfield. These were the people who changed everything that he had ever known, especially his mother. Once he got back from his trip with Peggotty, she was expected to be quiet and reserved. Although it appeared that Dickens’ seems to make references to evil being the ability to imagine. As with David’s aunt and Mr. Dick, many thought that they were crazy. His aunt seemed to be a bright and intelligent woman, yet she would always ask Mr. Dick what he thought should be done, and that would stand. Whatever Mr. Dick’s answer to her question was, she would take that answer and follow it. So it seems that those people who were around the two of them, or had heard of them, thought that they were crazy, due to some imagination. And does anyone really know why his aunt and her maid hated those donkeys so terribly?

Continuing with the thought that evil is due to imagination, it would appear that children, those who have the most imagination, would be the most evil thing on the planet. So one would think that original sin was created with each new generation. As Mr. Murdstone somewhat proves, children are nothing but an annoyance, and only get in the way. David would serve him by going to work, this way he would no longer be in anyone’s way. Thus the household could run effectively and have no distractions.

I do not think that anyone becomes evil; I believe that they are simply evil, or in this case, portrayed evil. This might just be that person’s personality as seen fit by the writer. Dickens had the Murdstones’ evil, since David didn’t have anything else wrong in his life. There was the fact that he didn’t have a father, but other then that, no one really wants to read a book about how a child lives a perfectly happy life.

Agnes was a person that David adored and looked up to with great admiration. She was someone that was in his heart since he was little and in school, into his manhood. David thought of her and used her as his motivation. Agnes was the type of person who appeared to be a very shy and quiet person, one who did not openly share her feelings. It seemed that she kept her feelings about David to herself due to being afraid. After her father told David the story about her mother, I understood a little more clearly.

Agnes’s mother was in love with her father, yet she was not happy. This is something that I think everyone fears. Love doesn’t fix or make up for everything, and it truly isn’t everything. A person cannot live just on love. So even though Agnes was in fact in love with David, she didn’t want to be unhappy like her mother. Granted the circumstances were different, Agnes’s mothers’ father did not approve of Agnes’s father, Agnes still didn’t want to live a life of unhappiness, like her poor mother.
The Victorian Era and today, as far as how Agnes kept her feelings to her self, are not all that uncommon. Many people will keep their feelings to themselves for fear of being hurt, or that the other person may not feel the same way. People are becoming more and more independent, especially women, who do not want to be looked at as sappy or a ball of feelings. The work place is somewhere that women are still competing to be equals with men, and so not showing as much emotion can help.
I will have to say that the other side to that is, that women want to make their own decisions, and choices. So, voicing feelings and opinions is much more accepted then it used to be. It can go both ways, since this merely depends upon the person.

Dickens used the effect of having people appear and then disappear, to only resurface somewhere later in the story, to show real life. As we go through life, we come in contact with many people; some that we assume will never be present in our lives again, to only show up somewhere unexpected. This happens with David’s aunt, Little Emily, and also with Peggotty. These three people are spoke of and then disappear. All of them pop up unexpectedly through out David’s life.

Little Emily and Peggotty are people that David never forgets about, but they were not present or thought of or mentioned until later. As for his aunt, she played a small role in the very beginning, and then appeared to play a major role in the rest of his life. This also makes for a more interesting plot, and keeps people asking where they went. Who knows, Dickens may have just forgot about them for some time, and then brought them back, just because he simply remembered that he had used them previously.

Life is a roller coaster with many turns and lopes. A person never knows whom they may run into or what might happen.
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