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David Copperfield
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The Dickens Project - Archives > David Copperfield, Chapters XXIV-XXVII (24-27) - November 24 - November 30

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Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Page-wise, we are nearly at the zenith of the book. This week we are discussing chapters 24-27 (XXIV-XXVII). Post away!


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Oh, David, David, David … The school of life has tested you again. Alcohol is possibly one of the iconic, not necessarily desirable, rites of passage. The first drink, the first intoxication, the first emotional and disgraceful outburst, and the first hangover. You are a grown-up man … living on your own, having friends for dinners, drinking, and going to the theater … And who is at the heart of this problem? Steerforth! Why can't you steer away from Steerforth? Why do you idolize this young man? Why are you so naïve and trust this young man implicitly? Why are you still a Daisy?
Conversely, Dickens through David does not sound too harsh or censorious of these failings. Of course, David is ashamed of his behavior; of course, Agnes is quite magnanimous and never mentions his public disgrace, but it seems like this was one of necessary lessons one should learn, and hopefully David will.
Now it becomes more and more obvious that David's life is not a straight-line journey, but a journey of many re-entrances and reminiscences of his past. Steerforth is back and mostly 'ensconced' in David's life, Traddle is back, and what a noble heart he is. His life is austere but honest and high-minded. He has not changed a bit. The Micawbers are back again, and Jane Murdstone is back, chaperoning Dora Spenlow. The past holds a tight grip on David and obviously is an important ingredient in his new life. Will it shape his life or will David's determination and will mold his life? It is as if David is stranded in the eternal literary dilemma of Fate vs. Free Will.
And the ultimate test of David's heart is Dora Spenlow. David falls in love … with the most charming, naïve, spoiled young lady, whom he, according to his confession, loves to distraction. To me, she is another Clara … and that leads to S. Freud and his psychoanalysis … It seems like Dickens is a Freudian precursor :-)
Oh, and the cold winds of Heepish darkness penetrate David's comfortable abode. And it is a physical intrusion as well. If you remember, Uriah was 'umble enough to sleep over in David's living room on the floor, and he wants to be Mr. Wickfield's PARTNER! So much for his 'umbleness …


Sarah | 269 comments As we get to revisit some earlier characters, the various members of the story are further fleshed out and their personalities developed more deeply. Steerforth continues to be a fun-loving instigator, but for the first time David’s impression of him is darkened by the ominous warning given by Agnes. He remains unconvinced that Steerforth is a “dark angel,” but inevitably at some point later on this naiveté will be shattered. Meanwhile, Uriah is undoubtedly villainous, and much like Mr. Carker from “Dombey and Son.” He disguises himself as a humble person, but he is power-hungry and is starting to exercise a dangerous power and control over Mr. Wickfield, including the impending proposal (and likely reluctant acceptance) to poor Agnes.

Miss Murdstone also reappears, this time as a companion and protector to Dora Spenlow, who does not care for her. Obviously Miss Murdstone has not changed and has no intention of doing so, despite her suggestion to David that they “meet here as distant acquaintances” (chapter 26). David continues to demonstrate his immaturity through his infatuation with Dora: “If the boots I wore at that period could only be produced and compared with the natural size of my feet, they would show what the state of my heart as, in a most affecting manner” (chapter 26). These little romantic interludes provide a welcoming humorous light in the midst of the dark shadows brought about by the less desirable characters and circumstances.

Lastly, Traddles and the Micawbers are again introduced into this stage of David’s life. Traddles, despite his poor situation, is a better person and friend than Steerforth will ever be, as are the Micawbers. The simplicity of these characters results in their happiness; just like today, many of the happiest people are those who have little in the way of material possessions. Hopefully they will continue to pepper David’s narrative with humor and compassion.


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Robin P | 2203 comments Mod
I keep reading ahead in this book because it flows so naturally. In earlier books, Dickens would cut back and forth between protagonists but with the first-person narrative, everything seems natural, even the many coincidences.

The drinking party reminded me of a similar scene with the young doctors in Pickwick Papers. In spite of the disgrace, there's a certain fondness in the writer looking back on his youth, in terms of the party and also the infatuation. He portrays so well the overwhelming nature of young love. We already saw David become obsessed with several young women, arranging his life to see or speak to them. Now he is at a whole new level. Fortunately she seems to like him and she would be a great catch - the boss's daughter, as we saw in Dombey.

Agnes lives with her widowed father as does Dora but their personalities couldn't be more different. Agnes is responsible and serious, Dora flighty and self-centered. It's hard to imagine that she wouldn't have used her wiles to get her father to provide a pleasanter chaperone than Miss Murdstone, But maybe she feels the chaperone is irrelevant as she will just ignore her. I suppose Miss Murdstone is civil to Dora because of her class and money. I appreciated that David told Miss Murdstone (politely) just what he thought of her and her brother.


Hedi | 978 comments Unfortunately, I am currently a little behind and will not have any Internet connection starting on Sunday. However, I am going to read on and will be back with comments on the 8th at the latest.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Sarah wrote: "David continues to demonstrate his immaturity through his infatuation with Dora: “If the boots I wore at that period could only be produced and compared with the natural size of my feet, they would show what the state of my heart as, in a most affecting manner” (chapter 26). "

He is such a child. He is infatuated with Dora, and he is also deeply attached to his other angel, Steerforth.

I wonder whether David, the more mature narrator, actually accepts these foibles of his youth or he is simply nostalgic about Steerforth and Dora. He usually foreshadows many events in his story, but when it comes to Dora and Steerforth, his lips are sealed. Are they still with him? Are they a part of his life? Have they changed David? The answers are shrouded in wispy fog.


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Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Robin wrote: "The drinking party reminded me of a similar scene with the young doctors in Pickwick Papers. In spite of the disgrace, there's a certain fondness in the writer looking back on his youth, in terms of the party and also the infatuation. "

Dickens seems to be quite forgiving when it comes to vagaries of youth: infatuations, partying, and naivete. This is the time to find your way, and if you feel wobbly, so be it. Life is a set of trials, and it does not come with the manual.


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Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Hedi wrote: "Unfortunately, I am currently a little behind and will not have any Internet connection starting on Sunday. However, I am going to read on and will be back with comments on the 8th at the latest."

Hedi, I hope the interweb will be kind to you,and we will hear from you soon. I have found it quite challenging to post or even read this week with the ongoing and upcoming holidays, and no, I did not go shopping on Thursday and Friday (Black Shopping Days).


Hedi | 978 comments Zulfiya wrote: "Hedi wrote: "Unfortunately, I am currently a little behind and will not have any Internet connection starting on Sunday. However, I am going to read on and will be back with comments on the 8th at ..."

I am back now, but have not read much at all during the last week. So I will have to catch up next week. It is incredible how time passes by.


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Hedi | 978 comments Zulfiya wrote: "Robin wrote: "The drinking party reminded me of a similar scene with the young doctors in Pickwick Papers. In spite of the disgrace, there's a certain fondness in the writer looking back on his you..."

I think these - let us call it - flaws make the character more human. We have discussed so many angelic, passive characters in his novels before, e.g. Oliver Twist and Nell, that David Copperfield feels much more realistic, even with the self-analysis and regrets he feels for his actions.

I also liked the bad angel - good angel motive in chapter 25. Agnes alludes to Steerforth's true character (bad angel), to whom David is still so devoted. David calls Agnes his good angel, and Agnes calls Steerforth his bad angel.


Another human feature of David is shown when he would have liked to pitch Uriah over the banisters.

Uriah is still the representative of creepiness and coldness in this novel. It is interesting that we have encountered a lot of these persons in the previous novels, e.g. Quilp and Mr. Carker. I wonder whether Dickens had personal experiences with this type of mankind.

BTW, I got the biography "Charles Dickens: A Life" by Claire Tomalin yesterday. So I am ready to start that after our David Copperfield read. :-)


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Hedi wrote: "I also liked the bad angel - good angel motive in chapter 25. Agnes alludes to Steerforth's true character (bad angel), to whom David is still so devoted. David calls Agnes his good angel, and Agnes calls Steerforth his bad angel."

His angels, dark and good, shape David's life. What if there was no Steerforth and only Agnes? What is there was no Agnes and only Steerforth. They introduce a certain sense of balance or harmony into David's life. They also have quite prophetic name: the name 'Agnes' is similar to Angel, especially if you look at the way the words are spelled; 'Steerforth' sounds like a warning and an instruction what to do - steer away!


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Hedi | 978 comments Good point, Zulfiya! Steerforth sounds like steer further on/ away and Agnes is indeed an angelic name.

I am at chapter 28 at the moment, so it will take me some days to catch up. ;-)


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Robin P | 2203 comments Mod
Zulfiya wrote: "Hedi wrote: "I also liked the bad angel - good angel motive in chapter 25. Agnes alludes to Steerforth's true character (bad angel), to whom David is still so devoted. David calls Agnes his good an..."

Agnes is related to the Latin word for "lamb" as in Lamb of God, so that goes with her saintly nature.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Oh, goodness, of course I knew this one some time ago. Agneti or agna are Latin words for a lamb. Dah! Excuse my oversight.

I hope she is not the lamb to slaughter and will not be sacrificed by her father. But I still think my explanation holds water - an angelic and innocent lamb:-)


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Hedi | 978 comments I could no remember this either, but my Latin classes were quite a while ago.it's maybe worth checking a dictionary once a while. :-)

Really great point, Robin!


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