The Old Curiosity Club discussion

18 views
David Copperfield > DC Chp 25-27

Comments Showing 1-50 of 103 (103 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1 3

message 1: by Peter (last edited Sep 19, 2020 04:53PM) (new)

Peter | 3277 comments Mod
Chapter 25

Good and bad Angels


As David recovers from his dinner party he receives a letter from Agnes. She asks David to see her. He agrees, with embarrassment in his heart. When he see Agnes she is calm. Rather than reflecting on what a fool David was at the theatre, Agnes offers David solace and kindness. In response, David calls her his “good Angel.” Agnes responds by telling David that there is a bad angel in his life and that person is Steerforth. Agnes does not judge Steerforth solely from what she saw the other night but rather from “many things - trifles in themselves, but they do not seem to me so to be so, when they are put together.” Agnes is very uncomfortable with the influence Steerforth has over David and warns David, that in Steerforth, David has “made a dangerous friend.” Agnes then deflects the conversation to another more gentle tone and tells David that he can always tell her if he is in trouble or falls in love.

Agnes then changes the topic and asks David if he has seen Uriah Heep in London. She then drops a bombshell and tells David that Uriah Heep is about to enter into a partnership with her father. Agnes explains that Uriah has weaselled his way into the partnership by “mastering papa’s weaknesses, fostering them and taking advantage of them, until ...papa is afraid of him.” Agnes fears that Heep makes “a hard use of his power.”

Agnes unburdens her own fears and worries to David, and David sees Agnes cry. Agnes asks David to be friendly towards Heep and to think of her and her papa. Next, Mrs Waterbrook, the lady who was Agnes’s companion at the theatre, enters the room and invites David to dine with her the next evening. The dinner turns out to be a dinner party and among the guests we find Uriah Heep and none other than David’s old Salem House school friend Mr Traddles. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves, and so we pause for a moment.


Thoughts

The title of the chapter is Good and bad Angels. So far we have seen two bad angels - Uriah and Steerforth - and one good angel who is Agnes. To what extent do you think Uriah and Steerforth are bad angels? Why? Do you think Agnes is a good angel or is she perhaps someone who should keep her opinions more to herself?

To what extent do you find David’s narrative in this chapter reliable?

Is it best if David keeps Agnes’s revelations to himself?


And now back to the dinner party where Traddles is reintroduced to the reader. We learn that Traddles is reading for the bar. The dinner party is a sober affair, and David manages to get through it and the conversation that revolved around one’s bloodline and class. David has the opportunity to speak with Traddles, tell him about Steerforth, and make arrangements to meet again in a month. David then asks Uriah Heep to return to his home, not because he wants to, but rather David remembers Agnes’ request. I imagine the phrase to keep your enemies closer to you than your friends applies here. Otherwise, who would want to associate with Heep?

What follows in the conversation is that Uriah Heep alternates between referring to David as “Master Copperfield” and “Mr Copperfield.” The interplay between these two forms of address is intriguing. Is this a form of verbal insult of Heep meant to be a jest, reflective Heep’s furtive nature, or simply meant by Dickens to be humourous? How one “reads” the manner and motive of the appellation colours how we read the rest of the chapter.

Heep writhes his way to David's home and what follows is a grand bit of writing. I writhed reading the remainder of the chapter. Through clever questioning Heep learns that Agnes is aware of his new position with her father, teases out of David some of his inner feelings, and, most horrifying, recounts to David how “with what pure affection do I love the ground my Agnes walks on!” What? ... “my Agnes.” Uriah says he has not made his feelings known to Agnes. In a not so subtle way Uriah Heep warns David away from a too close association with Mr Wickfield and, worse, from forming too close a bond with Agnes. This is the perfect time to say Poor Agnes.

If we thought the night could not get worse, it does. Uriah Heep spends the night at David's residence. David tells us that the nightcap he lent Uriah for the night he never wore again. During the night David fantasizes running Heep through with a red hot fire poker. Regretfully, he does not. As Heep leaves the next morning David reflects on how hopeless his life has become.


Thoughts

For those who have read The Old Curiosity Shop ... does Uriah Heep remind you in any way of Quilp?

Do you find the tone of this chapter sexually charged at all?

Good and bad angels. To this point in the novel the bad angels Steerforth and Uriah Heep hold David in their grasp. We do have Agnes, and in the country we have the Peggotty family. Dickens has also reintroduced Traddles to the plot. What do you foresee some of the conflicts may be as we move forward?


message 2: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3277 comments Mod
Chapter 26

I fall into Captivity


Well, the title of this chapter is rather ominous. Sometimes the chapter title focusses on the upcoming plot, sometimes the title is playful, and sometimes ominous. This title apparently falls into the ominous category but we will find that there is more to the word captivity than a suggestion of physical incarceration.

Perhaps this chapter could have been titled “Partings and Arrivals.” Our chapter begins with David seeing Agnes safely off from the coach office. What is so upsetting is that Uriah Heep was travelling on the same coach. While he will travel on the back seat of the roof and Agnes will be more comfortable inside, David likens how Heep overshadowed his parting from Agnes as “like a great vulture forging himself on every syllable that I said to Agnes or Agnes said to me.” As they coach departs David sees Heep as being an “evil genius writhing on the roof as if he had her in his clutches and triumphed.” Empty rook nests and now great vultures. Dickens does enjoy using birds to aid his descriptions.

With Steerforth at Oxford, David does admit to “some lurking distrust” towards Steerforth but still corresponds with him and is seemingly unwilling to take the warning of Agnes seriously. David feels lonely and is pleased when Mr Spenlow invites him to his home in Norwood to celebrate David becoming articled. Prior to going to visit David was involved in a case whose evidence was twice as long as Robinson Crusoe. Have you noticed the number of times this David refers to this specific novel? Why do you think that could be? When David asks Mr Spenlow what he considered the best sort of professional business the reply was “a disputed will.” We shall see such a will and such a price when we read Bleak House.

Mr Spenlow’s home is, of course, delightful, and the garden lovely. David finds it “enchanted.” When they enter the house Spenlow asks where his daughter Dora is and our David's first thought is “[w]hat a beautiful name!” David then sees Dora and [a]ll was over in a moment. I had fulfilled my destiny. I was a captive and a slave. I loved Dora Spenlow to distraction! ... she was a Fairy, a Sylph.” Well, that was fast. We have mentioned before how a tone of a fairy tale seems to linger in this novel. Here is the most direct manifestation of it. Many fairy stories come with an old hag, a witch-like person, or an ogress. Well, so does this one as who is it that fulfills the role of Dora’s confidential friend but Miss Murdstone. We are not free of the Murdstone’s yet. David and Miss Murdstone acknowledge each other and Mr Spenlow, who of course is unaware of any connection between the two, is glad to see they are already acquainted. David’s distress over meeting Miss Murdstone is unsettling but love conquers all. And so, David becomes a captive of love once again. By my count this is the third or fourth time so far in the novel.

In Dora’s presence David is lost in a “blissful delirium” and loses his appetite. The next morning David goes for a stroll in the Spenlow garden and encounters both Dora, who renders David into a stammering admirer and her dog Jip who barks at him. We learn that Dora finds Miss Murdstone a “tiresome creature.” I like that Dora used the word “creature. Did you note how loving Dora was to Jip. I found that a nice binary moment. Jip is hugged and loved like a person while Murdstone is called a creature. Dora, David, and Jip stroll among the flowers and David likens the moment to being in “Fairyland.” Miss Murdstone finds them in the garden and David recounts how she “marched us in to breakfast as if it were a soldiers funeral.” David has yet again fallen in love. I found that this time Dickens was much more obvious in creating a mood and template of a fairy tale.

Back at the office David’s mind and imagination remains captivated by his time at the Spenlow’s. He sees himself as a “mariner ... and the ship to which I belonged had sailed away and left me on a desert island.” Here again we find an allusion to Robinson Crusoe. Unlike Crusoe, however, David goes on a spending spree for clothes and a repeated odyssey of walks in the direction of Dora’s home. David's changed manner is noticed by his landlady Mrs Crupp who tells him he is “a young gentleman to be smiled on ... and you must learn your value, sir.” She calls David Mr Copperfull to which David suspects the mistake has something to do with “washing-day.” As our chapter ends we learn that Mrs Crupp does have motherly feelings and some insight into the loves of young men. For David's part, he resolves not to be so obvious in his feelings and emotions towards Dora.

As we leave this chapter I realized how many people have different names for David Copperfield. We have Trot, Daisy, Copperfull and the mixing of Mr and Master Copperfield. Are there any others I have forgotten? I know there are more nicknames yet to come.

Thoughts

I thought that Dickens consciously created a fairy tale like atmosphere in this chapter complete with a beautiful young maiden, a young innocent man, a beautiful home an enchanting garden, a witch-like overseer of the young maiden all presented with touches of evocative language. To what extent do you think Dickens was consciously trying to evoke such a setting in this chapter?

Why do you think we have the title and references to Robinson Crusoe popping up so much in the novel so far?

And now, a thought on “companions” and what they might mean in a novel. Miss Murdstone turns up in this chapter as Dora’s companion. We also find that Mrs Steerforth has a companion in Rosa Dartle. The presence of a companion is not an unusual occurrence in other Dickens novels or Victorian literature but, for sake of focus, let's stay within the novel David Copperfield. How does the presence of a companion contribute to the novel’s narrative structure? To what extent is the presence of a companion successful? What would be lacking in the novel without Dickens employing a companion as a character?


message 3: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3277 comments Mod
Chapter 27

Tommy Traddles


What's not to like about Tommy Traddles? David sets out to visit his old school friend and notes that “the street was not as desirable as one could have wished it to be, for the sake of Traddles.” The neighbourhood reminds David of the days when he lived with the Micawber’s. David finds a milkman at Traddle’s door trying to collect an overdue bill. When David enters Traddles’ rooms he finds a neat, but sparsely furnished space. The room also reminds David of his Micawber days. We learn that at work, Traddles shares a fourth of a room for his law chambers. Traddles does not seem to be too successful in terms of his work or home situations.

I find Traddles a refreshing character, one who is proud of who he is and yet fully aware that his economic state of well-being is, well, tenuous at best. As Traddles says himself “I am fighting my way on the world against difficulties, and it would be ridiculous if I made a pretence of doing anything else.” David and Tom remember their days at Salem House school and Traddles recalls how much he used to enjoy the stories that David told. Now, it would not be a spoiler to pause at this point. From this remark we learn that David loved to tell stories even from his early days in school. Our novel is told from the first person so here is a clear indication of the genesis of David’s life as an author. From their conversation we also see how Tommy Traddles has been able to put his painful and humiliating past behind him. As he says “But it’s all over, a long while.” We also learn that Traddles knows he is “a plodding kind of fellow” who realizes that he has “no invention at all.”

To supplement his income, At present, Tommy Traddles is helping compile an Encyclopedia. Traddles compiles whereas David reads and, as we have just learned, has the ability to create stories. Traddles thinks that if was ever to get connected with a newspaper it would be “the making of my fortune.” To me, it appears that Dickens may be setting Traddles up as a counterpoint to David and his ambitions in life. Further, Traddles tells David that he is engaged to a curate’s daughter. It appears that the engagement may be a long one and their motto is “Wait and hope.” I found it interesting that David's initial though when he heard Traddles was engaged was “Engaged! Oh Dora!” Here’s an insight into David’s state of mind. Traddles proceeds for show David the first meagre possessions he and his fiancée have managed to purchase.

And then a revelation! Traddles boards with the people downstairs who are none other than Mr and Mrs Micawber. Ah, Dickens and his coincidences. The Micawber’s are delighted to make David's acquaintance again. The Micawber’s have not changed. Mr Micawber is loquacious as ever and still expects something or some will turn up in his life to ease his constant economic hardships. As the chapter ends plans are made for David and the Micawber’s to dine soon and we also learn that Mrs Micawber is expecting another child.


Thoughts

We have noted before how David constantly refers to novels, and Robinson Crusoe in particular. Crusoe was a survivor, a person of seemingly infinite guile and resources. Who do you think is more like Robinson Crusoe, David or Tommy?

As Traddles reflects back to his time at Salem House he comments about a character named Yawler that “all the noses were straight, in my day.” Does anyone know what that expression might mean?

After reading this chapter and discovering the poverty of Traddles and the Micawber’s, I reflected on David’s earlier visit to Steerforth’s home. What are the main differences between these two households and those that live within the separate households? In what ways are the households of Traddles, Micawber and the Peggotty’s the same? Can we make any assumptions as to Dickens’s intent in creating and presenting such households to the reader?


message 4: by Mary Lou (last edited Sep 20, 2020 05:47AM) (new)

Mary Lou | 2490 comments Peter wrote: "Chapter 25..."

From the notes I made whilst reading:

"Go, Agnes!" when she warned David against Steerforth. I also have to ask, who among us could be as forgiving and non-judgemental of David's intoxication as Agnes? She's a classy lady, and I don't see her as the stereotypical Dickens heroine, thank God.

"It all comes down to blood, as I was saying the other day. Bad blood will out." is the first thing that popped into my mind while reading all the talk of Blood at the dinner party. Harry Potter's step-aunt compares him here to a badly-bred dog. What's up with English and their bloodlines? I understand knowing about one's ancestors, but Dickens, Rowling, and I (and I daresay most people these days) all seem to agree that "good breeding" has little to do with good character. That said, what is Dickens' larger point here? Is all the talk of blood symbolic of something? Is this some foreshadowing of some aristocratic character suffering an ironic downfall?

This quote also stood out, and made me wonder what future event was being alluded to:

...for I was young then, and unused to disguise what I so strongly felt. Hmmm...

Peter, I think you were mistaken about Heep taking David's bed. David says:

As no arguments...had the least effect upon his modesty in inducing him to accept my bedroom, I was obliged to make the best arrangements I could, for his repose before the fire.

So while Heep isn't symbolically taking over David's life to that extent, I still got a feeling of creepy encroachment, as if David and Uriah's fates are somehow wrapped up together, and nothing David can do will extricate him.

This one just made me chuckle:

...his mouth open like a post-office... :-)

The poker really does figure prominently in David's thoughts, both conscious and unconscious. Makes me wonder what end Uriah may come to in a few hundred more pages.

As I read the descriptions of Uriah, I think back to my daughter's reading assignment in elementary school. The book in question was "Matilda" by Roald Dahl. Elizabeth had to do a comparison of, in Dickens' words, the story's good angel and bad angel in side-by-side columns. The way she differentiated at her young age was not by the characters actions, but by appearance. The bad character was fat, had warts, etc., while the good angel was young and pretty. Now, I can't blame Elizabeth for this entirely, because she accurately reported the way the author had portrayed them. It's so common as to be trite, but somehow I'd never given it much thought until that moment. So now, as I read descriptions of Uriah's clammy hands, red-rimmed eyes, and writhing, I get a little angry with Dickens for resorting to the easy bad=ugly. Then I remind myself that Steerforth is, too, being set up as a villain, and he's handsome and charming. Redemption!


message 5: by Mary Lou (last edited Sep 19, 2020 09:50AM) (new)

Mary Lou | 2490 comments Peter wrote: "Chapter 26..."

Some Bleak House foreshadowing here, when David asks Mr. Spenlow the best sort of professional business, and he replies, "a good case of a disputed will." Indeed.

I was stunned to find Miss Murdstone as Dora's "confidential companion"! What on earth?! Of all people. Why did these 19th-century gentlemen feel the need to pay for companions for their daughters? I know he thought she needed some guidance from a more mature woman (thinking now of the P-word lady in Little Dorrit -- what was her name? Mrs.... something), but really... Miss Murdstone? I remember in the mini-series "Victoria" that a big deal was made about who could be in Victoria's court. Of course, politics played a big part in that. Still - I can't think of anything worse than having the company of someone I don't like foisted on me. As to Peter's question, "What would be lacking in the novel without Dickens employing a companion as a character?", certainly Miss Murdstone casts a shadow over David's Eden -- we see it there, even if he doesn't yet. Their agreement to not speak of their past connection tells me Miss M may have something to hide, other than her nasty temperament. Having Miss M as a "confidential companion" is a whole different situation than, say, Dolly Varden and Emma Haredale in Barnaby Rudge.

If DC is autobiographical, what is the consensus about who Dora represents? Catherine? Mary? Maria Beadnell? Too early for Ellen, I think, isn't it?

Last week someone mentioned similarities between Mrs. Crupp and Sarah Gamp. Definitely saw that in this chapter. The bit about the "tincture of cardamums mixed with rhubarb, and flavoured with seven drops of the essence of cloves" gave me a good chuckle. Perhaps a little less Gamp-like, I appreciated Mrs. Crupp's advice to David:

...to cheer up, sir, to keep a good heart, and to know your own walue.

Good advice for all of us.

Does anyone want to take a stab at what kind of dog Jip is? The three descriptions David gives us are little, black, and with a blunt nose. I picture a Pekinese.


message 6: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2490 comments Peter wrote: "Chapter 27..."

I'm delighted to see Traddles, and hope that he'll be a bright spot in David's world. He seems to be a good egg. I'm not as happy for the convenient reunion with the Micawbers. I'm sorry to say that I haven't been enjoying that family as I thought I might. Perhaps something will turn up to change that opinion.

As for the coincidences, I enjoyed Miss M being thrown back into the mix. Having the Micawbers show up again so soon after becoming reaquainted with Traddles and Miss M was just too much, though.

How many times has Dickens mentioned Robinson Crusoe so far? Three? I've never read it -- the closest I've come is watching Gilligan's Island. :-) But based on the little I know and your description, Peter, I'd say Traddles was much more like Crusoe. He doesn't have £90 a year from a generous aunt. I didn't get far with The Arabian Nights; perhaps I should make Robinson Crusoe my next non-Dickens book.

Peter wrote: “all the noses were straight, in my day.” Does anyone know what that expression might mean?

Short answer: no.
But... I'm thinking back to the Blood conversation. One of the men says, "We see Blood in a nose, and we know it." There was a time when a person's nose somehow indicated something about their worthiness, though I don't know how. I recall something about aqueline noses being a good thing. (Frankly, I've never heard the word "aqueline" used to describe anything but noses.) I hate to suggest it, but perhaps it's to do with anti-Semitism?


message 7: by Jantine (new)

Jantine (eccentriclady) | 618 comments I thought the same, Mary Loo. At least I think it has to do with them thinking it points out good breeding, and Yawler basically saying 'at least only the rich entitled boys got into school in my time', as opposed to a (in his eyes) lowlife like Traddles?

Traddles certainly is more like Robinson Crusoë. It has been at least 25 years since I read the book, but from what I remember Crusoë built up his residence, and all around it, up piece by piece, and he took years of hard work to kind of complete the place, and then find a companion, just like Traddles seems to do now.

Oh and I loved seeing Traddles back, I was delighted! I had to chuckle at Ms. Murdstone who now worked for her upkeep basically, in a household where David was a guest, even if one who also worked for them, he was a guest nonetheless while she was not. The Micawbers ... was just a bit too much of a Dickensian coincidence for me too. I've learned to go with the flow, because it just happens in Dickens' books, but still. I do hope they don't impose too much of their problems on Traddles too, now he has to save up for his own marriage.


message 8: by Peter (last edited Sep 19, 2020 04:55PM) (new)

Peter | 3277 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "Peter wrote: "Chapter 25..."

From the notes I made whilst reading:

"Go, Agnes!" when she warned David against Steerforth. I also have to ask, who among us could be as forgiving and non-judgementa..."


Hi Mary Lou.

You are right about the sleeping arrangements at David's rooms. I have made the correction. Thanks. Uriah is so odious. Can one fumigate a floor?

I don’t know much about dogs but your idea of Jip’s breed is logical. Jip is, no doubt, a purebred. He also is very annoying.

Yes. It is too early for Dora to be a reflection of Ellen. She came on the scene in 1858-9. My guess is she would not be in any way based on Mary. Dickens saw Mary as a perfect woman. At one point he expressed the desire to be buried beside her. I wonder what Catherine’s honest reaction was to that? I don’t think it was Catherine either. Even if the bloom was fading from the marriage rose Catherine had given birth to many children and was, if anything, a rather quiet, introverted and grounded woman. Dickens is believed to have satirized Maria in an upcoming novel. That said, he could well have taken her into David Copperfield as well.

You ask a great question to which my memory cannot recall anyone asking. I wonder if it were based on another person in Dickens’s circle of acquaintances. Let's see what other people think.


message 9: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3277 comments Mod
Jantine wrote: "I thought the same, Mary Loo. At least I think it has to do with them thinking it points out good breeding, and Yawler basically saying 'at least only the rich entitled boys got into school in my t..."

Jantine and Mary Lou

There are so many references to the novel Robinson Crusoe that I’m convinced it must be an allusion. Which character in the novel fits best I’m still puzzling out. At this point in time my thinking is leaning towards David seeing himself as Crusoe. There may well be further references forthcoming. Let’s keep an eye out for future links.


message 10: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2490 comments Peter - As I understand it, Dickens was forced to stop seeing Maria, and it was many years later that he met her again. Apparently, she'd put on weight and had become a bit ditzy (or maybe the extra pounds caused Dickens to take off his rose-colored glasses?), at which point she was rather cruelly satirized as Flora Finching.

Perhaps if his reunion with Maria came in the five years between the publication of Copperfield and Little Dorrit, Dickens may have based Dora (rhymes with Flora - coincidence?) on his idealized memories of the younger Maria. Just a theory.


message 11: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4719 comments Mod
I really wonder at all those references to Robinson Crusoe because I would never have made a connection between the island hero and any character in David Copperfield. It's interesting that David compares his first set of chambers with the shelter Robinson build for himself, and this is probably on the grounds that David felt himself all on his own now and was dithering between feelings of exuberance at the newly-won freedom and independence on the one hand and the sense of loneliness on the other. Nevertheless, David is anything but a Robinson in my eyes: Whereas Robinson had to fend for himself, and used what little means he could salvage from the wrecked ship to eke out his existence on the island, David's only independent move was to run away from the Murdstones and present himself to his Aunt, hoping that she would take up cudgels for him. He is living off his aunt's means and whatever he will reach in life, the starting point is his aunt's munificence towards him. Robinson, on the other hand, had to do everything on his own and to use his wits and his determination in order to survive.

In a way, the character closest to Robinson seems Traddles to me because Traddles had to start his way into life with a meagre 50 Pounds and he even had to save the money he needed to get his articles.


message 12: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4719 comments Mod
Another thing that I found quite interesting was that, at least it seemed so to me, David was actually inclined to fall in love with Dora before he even set eyes on her. And when he finally did set eyes on her, he fell so much in love as to be absolutely spooney. He didn't even do justice to the dinner that was set before him; with me, love, be it unrequited or fulfilled, fresh or inveterate, had never ever interfered with my appetite.


message 13: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3277 comments Mod
As readers we know one thing for sure about the novel Robinson Crusoe and its main character. There seems to be many references to them, more than one would think mere coincidence, in the novel David Copperfield. The questions are then why and does it really matter? As curious readers such questions both haunt and tease us. There are also numerous references to fairy tales in the novel. Is this another anomaly or of some importance?

Well, during this Covid crisis my mind is both blanker than usual and tends to wander, so here's a peek inside it.

The first sentences of the novel, spoken in the adult David’s voice sets the course for what is to come. “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anyone else, these pages must show.” David questions his role in his own life within the framework of being cast as a hero.

There is a constant duality in the novel between the narrative voice of the adult author looking back on his life and the voice of an evolving and growing child who will grow into the author of the story. The duality will be finally resolved when the adult author brings himself as maturing individual to finally meet his adult self. To me, this is a fascinating bit of chronological writing. Dickens must balance everything that will happen with everything that is happening with everything that has happened.

How does this link with Robinson Crusoe? Well, to this point in the novel I see David as seeing himself as Robinson. Both find themselves in a strange situation that they have no control over. Both must make the best of their scant resources in order to survive. Both face challenges and dangers that only can be be resolved by their own wile and actions. There situations are, on the surface, dissimilar. Crusoe is an adult and David begins as a child and slowly grows. At each challenge and each step in David's life he is able and chooses to act in a similar fashion to Robinson. David is resourceful, he is brave, he must make assessments of his surroundings.

I don’t think that David believes he is Robinson Crusoe but I do think he frames his life and surroundings in a manner that reflects the challenges that he faces with those of Crusoe. David was a reader. We know this from his references to his relationship with books from an early age. If we take as a premise that David has read to the end of Robinson Crusoe then I think it reasonable to assume he can frame his own life to shadow that of the fictional Crusoe.

I can also see how Traddles can fit the Crusoe profile but would question why Dickens would not have his principle character fit the role of the hero of another book when the novel begins with the question of whether the title character is a hero or not.

I really love these puzzles and Gordian knots of questions. “What larks!”


message 14: by Ulysse (new)

Ulysse | 73 comments Peter wrote: "Chapter 25

Good and bad Angels


As David recovers from his dinner party he receives a letter from Agnes. She asks David to see her. He agrees, with embarrassment in his heart. When he see Agnes s..."


Peter, I felt the sexual tension in this chapter as well. Twice does David mention the red-hot fire poker he would like to run through Heep. A nice choice of words. Plus he keeps getting up in the middle of the night to check up on the sleeping Heep snoring away in his parlour. The fascination of disgust really seems to have David in its grip here. All that writhing and hissing too. Very unsettling I must say.


message 15: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4719 comments Mod
Ulysse wrote: "Peter wrote: "Chapter 25

Good and bad Angels


As David recovers from his dinner party he receives a letter from Agnes. She asks David to see her. He agrees, with embarrassment in his heart. When ..."


The conversation between Uriah and David is one of this week's highlights for me in that it really shows Uriah's dangerous resourcefulness and the determination hid beneath a veneer of mock humility. First of all, he slyly tricks David into betraying Agnes's confidence and then he shows as much of his true colours as he can by threatening David with making things worse for Mr. Wickfield and Agnes if David dare interfere. And then, to top it all, there is this picture of Uriah's sleeping in David's room and defiling the sense of home his rooms have given him with his very presence. Uriah is like a haunting evil spirit, like the stench of a bedbug-infested room.

And then there is that other Evil Angel Agnes warns David against. As has been said above, Steerforth may not have the cadaverous outward appearance we'd expect such an Evil Angel to wear, but then was not Lucifer also beautiful of aspect at first? What Uriah is up to is quite clear; what Steerforth is, is not so much - or is it?


message 16: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4719 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "As readers we know one thing for sure about the novel Robinson Crusoe and its main character. There seems to be many references to them, more than one would think mere coincidence, in the novel Dav..."

I have always read Robinson Crusoe not so much as a tale of adventure but more as a praise of the new class of businessman that made England great, of industry, thrift, longheadedness and reason. Robinson is a very rational man, and one who easily masters his emotions and passions. This enables him to survive on his island, and this also sets him aside from the more romantic, impulsive David. I also envisage David as a rather passive observer, because there is hardly anything he does, and it's mostly others around him who act, which may justify the initial sentence of the novel quoted here by Peter. I doubt whether David would survive on a solitary island, especially since there'd be no woman he could fall in love with ;-)

And yet, when I read Peter's comment, it struck me that in a way, Robinson's story is also some kind of coming-of-age-story, like David's, because it shows us the coming-of-age of a man in a completely hostile, or at best indifferent, environment. That man had to reinvent himself and come to terms with the world around him, like David has. David's need of reinventing himself, of finding his own identity, may be reflected in the fact that he is given so many different names by various characters. His aunt calls him Trotwood, thus laying a claim on him - in exchange for all the things she does for him -, and also Steerforth forces his own interpretation of David on our first person narrator, by calling him Daisy.

David is also isolated and alone in some ways, e.g. in the way that he cannot treat Uriah as he'd please but has to play along with Agnes for fear of aggravating the Wickfield's position.

Interesting.


message 17: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3277 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "Peter wrote: "As readers we know one thing for sure about the novel Robinson Crusoe and its main character. There seems to be many references to them, more than one would think mere coincidence, in..."

Hi Tristram

I have been puzzling why there is such an abundance of direct references to the novel Robinson Crusoe. There are also embedded phrases like “as if I were a mariner myself, and the ship to which I belonged had sailed away and left me on a desert island” which occurs in chapter 26. For me, the direct references and embedded phrases like the above have become an itch. I keep scratching my head. Both you and Mary Lou are certainly helping broaden my thoughts.

Your mentioning of David’s nicknames puzzle me as well. What’s that all about? This is a fascinating novel.


message 18: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1301 comments Tristram wrote: "And yet, when I read Peter's comment, it struck me that in a way, Robinson's story is also some kind of coming-of-age-story, like David's, because it shows us the coming-of-age of a man in a completely hostile, or at best indifferent, environment."

This take makes a lot of sense to me; I am starting to see David Copperfield as an earlier experiment in the direction of what you see whole-hog in Joyce's Ulysses a half-century or so later. Joyce takes the story of Odysseus surviving 20 years of war and disaster at sea and adapts it as the story of a pretty ordinary guy wandering around Dublin for a day. Dickens might be doing something similar here: taking the adventurous, very extraordinary self-invention that Robinson Crusoe does and comparing it to the generally average (at least so far) self-invention that David does. Everyday life becomes the adventure.


message 19: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1301 comments While we are accounting for reappearing themes, could somebody please explain to me what the thing is with this book and donkeys and the ill-treatment of donkeys?

he [Traddles] lived in a little street near the Veterinary College at Camden Town, which was principally tenanted, as one of our clerks who lived in that direction informed me, by gentlemen students, who bought live donkeys, and made experiments on those quadrupeds in their private apartments.

:(


message 20: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1301 comments Mary Lou wrote: "I also have to ask, who among us could be as forgiving and non-judgemental of David's intoxication as Agnes? She's a classy lady, and I don't see her as the stereotypical Dickens heroine, thank God."


Say a little more about that, Mary Lou? I found her angelic self-sacrifice for her father to be pretty standard Dickens heroine, but would be curious why she didn't strike you that way. Because she has more judgment than the hero of the story?

Unrelated: I love how many times Dickens uses the word "writhe" in conjunction with Heep. Also what a name, Uriah Heep. It would make a good (if unfair) name for a donkey.


message 21: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3277 comments Mod
Julie wrote: "Tristram wrote: "And yet, when I read Peter's comment, it struck me that in a way, Robinson's story is also some kind of coming-of-age-story, like David's, because it shows us the coming-of-age of ..."

Julie

Yes. The intertextuality of David Copperfield and Robinson Crusoe works for me. Both David and Bloom can be seen as ordinary people fitting into an extraordinary pattern.

As for the donkeys, I have no idea. :-)


message 22: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie | 315 comments I am keeping up with the reading but having a hard time keeping up with the threads. Too many real life issues at the moment. Just read through the comments and found them very interesting. Yes, I find it very hard to see how Agnes is the passive daughter as some others of Dickens women. Agnes seems too intelligent to not at least attempt to give some good advice to her father. She is certainly giving advice to David regarding Steerforth.

I just completed Little Women and found it interesting that it refers to characters from DC and also a reference to Oliver Twist. I enjoyed seeing those references.

I have a question about a character from a Dickens novel that I cannot quite identify. I remember an old man, a father or grandfather who rings a bell or something on the hour, or has to do with cannons possibly? I thought that might be from DC and might refer to Spenlow's family but it appears not. Can someone clear that up for me?


message 23: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2490 comments Bobbie wrote: "I have a question about a character from a Dickens novel that I cannot quite identify. I remember an old man, a father or grandfather who rings a bell or something on the hour, or has to do with cannons possibly? ..."

I think you're referring to the Aged Parent - Wemmick's father in Great Expectations. If no one else can fill in details before I look up the pertinent passages, I'll come back with those later.

Your description also reminds me of the Banks' neighbor in Mary Poppins, shooting off his cannon at a certain hour every day. :-)


message 24: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3277 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "Julie wrote: "Say a little more about that, Mary Lou? I found her angelic self-sacrifice for her father to be pretty standard Dickens heroine, but would be curious why she didn't strike you that wa..."

Mary Lou

You are so right about the word “little” as it is applied to many of Dickens’s females. Little Nell, Little Dorrit, Little Em’ly ... am I missing others?

Excuse the bad pun but Dickens’s use of the word “little” does diminish their stature as not only women but humans as well.


message 25: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2490 comments Julie wrote: "Say a little more about that, Mary Lou? I found her angelic self-sacrifice for her father to be pretty standard Dickens heroine, but would be curious why she didn't strike you that way. Because she has more judgment than the hero of the story?.."

Well, now you're forcing me to actually think, Julie!

Without going back and rereading, it seems to me that Agnes is, first, a quiet character. She's one of those women who doesn't make a fuss or draw attention to herself -- she just gets things done to the best of her ability. Agnes seems to have both intelligence and common sense. One might say the same for Esther Summerson or Amy Dorrit, but they're the protagonists of their books, so the reader has a lot more exposure to them.

I have no problem with women choosing to make sacrifices for the men in their lives (well... within reason), but we aren't subjected to the nitty-gritty details of Agnes, Uriah, and Mr. Wickfield. There's a subtle difference between David going on and on about how angelic Agnes is, versus a third-person narrator doing so. It's less grating somehow.

And I haven't kept score, but I'd be willing to bet that we haven't heard the word "little" used to describe Agnes nearly as much as we get it with other Dickens heroines! Not to say it hasn't been used at all, but I don't recall any waves of nausea in this case. :-)


message 26: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie | 315 comments Thanks, Mary Lou, GE is probably right and Aged Parent certainly sounds right. I will have to look at the book to find it. I knew it was definitely Dickens but that's about all I could come up with at the moment.


message 27: by Kim (last edited Oct 15, 2020 11:54AM) (new)

Kim | 6079 comments Mod
Dora was Maria Beadnell, at least according to John Forster she was. Dickens met her when he was seventeen. She was the daughter of a banker in Lombard Street, and was resident there until she was separated from Dickens by being sent to be 'finished' at Paris in 1832. Re-met as Maria Winter in 1855, she becomes Flora Finching in Little Dorrit. Dickens named his daughter Dora Annie Dickens after the character on her birth in 1850, but she died the following year at the age of eight months.Also, Freud may have used her name in one of his Case Histories.


message 28: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6079 comments Mod


Uriah persists in hovering near us, at the dinner party.

Chapter 25

Phiz

Commentary:

For the first illustration in the ninth monthly part, January 1850, Phiz introduces into the narrative-pictorial sequence the significant figure of the young attorney Tommy Traddles (in the group of figures to the right which includes David Copperfield, Agnes Wickfield, and, behind them, Uriah Heep, at Mrs. Waterbrook's London dinner-party), and reaffirms Uriah's romantic interest in his employer's daughter, Agnes. Much to David's disgust, Uriah has assumed a social footing equal to that of the other young guests despite his "common" — that is, lower class — accent. According to J. A. Hammerton (1910), the plate illustrates this passage in the text:

I found Uriah Heep among the company, in a suit of black, and in deep humility. He told me, when I shook hands with him, that he was proud to be noticed by me, and that he really felt obliged to me for my condescension.I could have wished [Uriah] had been less obliged by me, for he hovered about me in his gratitude all the rest of the evening; and whenever I said word to Agnes, was sure, with his shadowless eyes and cadaverous face, to be looking gauntly down upon us from behind.

The text enables the reader to identify Mrs. Henry Spiker, "a very awful lady in a black velvet dress, and a great black velvet hat" (extreme left in the illustration) and Uriah Heep "in a suit of black" (extreme right); David, Agnes, and Tommy, the youngest members of the party, are identifiable by elimination; the rest of the company are Phiz's low-keyed caricatures of the metropolitan professional class to which young legal clerk and shorthand reporter Charles Dickens had himself aspired to be a member two decades earlier. These are not individuals but representatives of a class: unemotional, complacent, affluent, self-confident, self-centred, and elegantly dressed. Since Dickens does not specify much about the natures or even the number of figures at Mrs. Waterbrook's dinner-party, telling the reader only that "there were other guests — all iced for the occasion, as it struck me, like the wine." Phiz has taken the opportunity to dress his stage with a total of eighteen bourgeoisie, fourteen of them being middle-aged males and their wives, supplying details where Dickens has merely stated that David was not the Waterbrooks' only guest. While Dickens accords the few women whom he names some prominence by describing their fashion sense (or lack thereof), Phiz emphasizes the masculine members of the dinner-party, drawing with care their swallowtail coats and waistcoats, high collars, starched shirtfronts, and ties. Of the eighteen figures in the scene, only seven are females. The tall, thin man in the group left of centre resembles Mr. Spenlow in the next illustration, both in terms of hair and clothing, for example, so that Phiz may be using his presence to create visual continuity, just as the scenes are thematically linked, as Steig notes, by the clerk's desire to "marry the boss's daughter":

Uriah as the double of David, the other side of his respectable ambition to be a gentleman, is suggested in two [January 1850] etchings. In "Uriah persists in hovering near us, at the dinner party" (ch. 25), the ostensible meaning implies that Uriah threatens Agnes with his lecherousness and his ambition to marry the boss's daughter; but Browne's introduction of the statuette of an angel standing protectively behind a child (itself probably inspired by the chapter title, "Good and Bad Angels") makes matters less simple. In the text, David's "good angel" is Agnes, his bad one, according to her, Steerforth; but in the illustration the angel and child visually parallel the positions of Uriah and Agnes, implying that Uriah is at once a threat to Agnes and possibly also another "bad angel" for David. [Steig 121]

Having finished school at Canterbury and "looked about him" as his aunt suggested, David has taken up an obscure branch of the legal profession as an articling proctor for the Doctors' Commons, a vestige of medieval England's ecclesiastical courts. His aunt has paid the thousand pound premium for articling her nephew "Trot" in the firm of Spenlow and Jorkins. Now an urban professional, David attends a dinner party of fellow lawyers, including (to his delight and surprise) ex-school mate Tommy Traddles. One might assume that the good angel standing behind David (as in the inset pair of statues immediately above the group at the right) is Agnes Wickfield and the bad Uriah Heep. However, the text makes plain that Agnes, having seen David on the previous evening drunk and disorderly at the theatre under Steerforth's influence, feels that the bad angel in David's life is Steerforth. The moment realized occurs two evenings after that dinner-party in David's Adelphi rooms in Buckingham Street that had deteriorated into a debauch, with David now contritely discussing his uncharacteristic behaviour. Here, to reintroduce a character who will be important in the novel's plot, Dickens has David recount seeing a young attorney who looks like a young adult version of Tommy and inquires as to whether the youth is indeed his former school chum from Salem House. This is the class to which David was born, for which his public schooling at Salem House and Dr. Strong's has prepared him, and into which his aunt's wealth has propelled him, the professional middle class, there being but one person present (a "solicitor connected with the Treasury" in some vague capacity) who may one day enter the ranks of the aristocracy.


message 29: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6079 comments Mod


Hamlet's aunt betrays the family failing, and indulges in a soliloquy on "blood."

Chapter 25

Fred Barnard

1872 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

My reflections on this theme were still in progress when dinner was announced. Mr. Waterbrook went down with Hamlet’s aunt. Mr. Henry Spiker took Mrs. Waterbrook. Agnes, whom I should have liked to take myself, was given to a simpering fellow with weak legs. Uriah, Traddles, and I, as the junior part of the company, went down last, how we could. I was not so vexed at losing Agnes as I might have been, since it gave me an opportunity of making myself known to Traddles on the stairs, who greeted me with great fervour; while Uriah writhed with such obtrusive satisfaction and self-abasement, that I could gladly have pitched him over the banisters. Traddles and I were separated at table, being billeted in two remote corners: he in the glare of a red velvet lady; I, in the gloom of Hamlet’s aunt. The dinner was very long, and the conversation was about the Aristocracy—and Blood. Mrs. Waterbrook repeatedly told us, that if she had a weakness, it was Blood.

It occurred to me several times that we should have got on better, if we had not been quite so genteel. We were so exceedingly genteel, that our scope was very limited. A Mr. and Mrs. Gulpidge were of the party, who had something to do at second-hand (at least, Mr. Gulpidge had) with the law business of the Bank; and what with the Bank, and what with the Treasury, we were as exclusive as the Court Circular. To mend the matter, Hamlet’s aunt had the family failing of indulging in soliloquy, and held forth in a desultory manner, by herself, on every topic that was introduced. These were few enough, to be sure; but as we always fell back upon Blood, she had as wide a field for abstract speculation as her nephew himself.

We might have been a party of Ogres, the conversation assumed such a sanguine complexion.

‘I confess I am of Mrs. Waterbrook’s opinion,’ said Mr. Waterbrook, with his wine-glass at his eye. ‘Other things are all very well in their way, but give me Blood!’

‘Oh! There is nothing,’ observed Hamlet’s aunt, ‘so satisfactory to one! There is nothing that is so much one’s beau-ideal of—of all that sort of thing, speaking generally. There are some low minds (not many, I am happy to believe, but there are some) that would prefer to do what I should call bow down before idols. Positively Idols! Before service, intellect, and so on. But these are intangible points. Blood is not so. We see Blood in a nose, and we know it. We meet with it in a chin, and we say, “There it is! That’s Blood!” It is an actual matter of fact. We point it out. It admits of no doubt.’

The simpering fellow with the weak legs, who had taken Agnes down, stated the question more decisively yet, I thought.

‘Oh, you know, deuce take it,’ said this gentleman, looking round the board with an imbecile smile, ‘we can’t forego Blood, you know. We must have Blood, you know. Some young fellows, you know, may be a little behind their station, perhaps, in point of education and behaviour, and may go a little wrong, you know, and get themselves and other people into a variety of fixes—and all that—but deuce take it, it’s delightful to reflect that they’ve got Blood in ‘em! Myself, I’d rather at any time be knocked down by a man who had got Blood in him, than I’d be picked up by a man who hadn’t!’



message 30: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6079 comments Mod


I fall into captivity

Chapter 26

Phiz

Commentary:

"I fall into captivity," the second illustration for the ninth monthly number (chapters 25, 26, and 27), realizes the scene in chapter 26 in which David Copperfield meets Dora Spenlow, daughter of his employer, at Mr. Spenlow's estate at Norwood:

There was a lovely garden to Mr. Spenlow’s house; and though that was not the best time of the year for seeing a garden, it was so beautifully kept, that I was quite enchanted. There was a charming lawn, there were clusters of trees, and there were perspective walks that I could just distinguish in the dark, arched over with trellis-work, on which shrubs and flowers grew in the growing season. ‘Here Miss Spenlow walks by herself,’ I thought. ‘Dear me!’

We went into the house, which was cheerfully lighted up, and into a hall where there were all sorts of hats, caps, great-coats, plaids, gloves, whips, and walking-sticks. ‘Where is Miss Dora?’ said Mr. Spenlow to the servant. ‘Dora!’ I thought. ‘What a beautiful name!’

I heard a voice say, "Mr. Copperfield, my daughter Dora, and my daughter Dora's confidential friend!" It was, no doubt, Mr. Spenlow's voice, but I didn't know it, and I didn't care whose it was. All was over in a moment. I had fulfilled my destiny. I was a captive and a slave. I loved Dora Spenlow to distraction!

She was more than human to me. She was a Fairy, a Sylph, I don’t know what she was—anything that no one ever saw, and everything that everybody ever wanted. I was swallowed up in an abyss of love in an instant. There was no pausing on the brink; no looking down, or looking back; I was gone, headlong, before I had sense to say a word to her.


Although David is appalled at the notion of Uriah Heep's courting Agnes Wickfield, and, indeed, seems obsessed with the impropriety of the putative relationship, he does not hesitate to be smitten at first sight with the daughter of his own employer, a Proctor in Doctors' Commons and partner in the firm of Spenlow and Jorkins, where David is articling. By sheer Dickensian coincidence the chaperon of the young lady, just home from "finishing" in Paris, is none other than Miss Jane Murdstone, the bane of David's childhood after his mother's second marriage, last seen "The momentous interview" in chapter 14.

David's courtship of Dora is probably the activity to which the hero devotes the most passion in the novel, and it is given a series of important and carefully worked out illustrations, most of which are thick with emblematic details. In the one already mentioned, "I fall into captivity," perhaps the only strictly emblematic detail is the diorama of birds under glass, suggesting the exceedingly preserved and sheltered life of Dora. But a piano is also present which in view of the rest of the series may represent Dora's eternal singing of "enchanted ballads ... generally to the effect that, whatever was the matter, we ought always to dance, Ta ra la, Ta ra la!" (ch. 26).

Since David at this point has not even shared a conversation with Dora Spenlow, the reader should conclude that the protagonist once again has exhibited a preference for a stylish veneer over the underlying substance, as has been the case with James Steerforth. Phiz underscores Dora's vanity and superficiality as well as her physical attractiveness by including an oil painting of her (or her mother) immediately above her father's head. Her piano music, strewn on the floor, suggests her mental untidiness. Here as in later plates, Phiz associates Dora with domestic disorder and carelessness, qualities that he has also associated with David's mother in "Changes at home" in the July number. Born to a life of privilege, raised by a stylish widower, and hence without a suitable female role model, the charming and well-meaning Dora is utterly inept as a housekeeper and useless as a moral guide and intellectual companion. Thus, although as physically attractive as Agnes, the only young woman in the number's companion plate, Dora is a complete contrast to David's other good angel.


message 31: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6079 comments Mod


Dora

Chapter 26

Fred Barnard

1872 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

It was a fine morning, and early, and I thought I would go and take a stroll down one of those wire-arched walks, and indulge my passion by dwelling on her image. On my way through the hall, I encountered her little dog, who was called Jip—short for Gipsy. I approached him tenderly, for I loved even him; but he showed his whole set of teeth, got under a chair expressly to snarl, and wouldn’t hear of the least familiarity.

The garden was cool and solitary. I walked about, wondering what my feelings of happiness would be, if I could ever become engaged to this dear wonder. As to marriage, and fortune, and all that, I believe I was almost as innocently undesigning then, as when I loved little Em’ly. To be allowed to call her ‘Dora’, to write to her, to dote upon and worship her, to have reason to think that when she was with other people she was yet mindful of me, seemed to me the summit of human ambition—I am sure it was the summit of mine. There is no doubt whatever that I was a lackadaisical young spooney; but there was a purity of heart in all this, that prevents my having quite a contemptuous recollection of it, let me laugh as I may.

I had not been walking long, when I turned a corner, and met her. I tingle again from head to foot as my recollection turns that corner, and my pen shakes in my hand.

‘You—are—out early, Miss Spenlow,’ said I.

‘It’s so stupid at home,’ she replied, ‘and Miss Murdstone is so absurd! She talks such nonsense about its being necessary for the day to be aired, before I come out. Aired!’ (She laughed, here, in the most melodious manner.) ‘On a Sunday morning, when I don’t practise, I must do something. So I told papa last night I must come out. Besides, it’s the brightest time of the whole day. Don’t you think so?’

I hazarded a bold flight, and said (not without stammering) that it was very bright to me then, though it had been very dark to me a minute before.

‘Do you mean a compliment?’ said Dora, ‘or that the weather has really changed?’

I stammered worse than before, in replying that I meant no compliment, but the plain truth; though I was not aware of any change having taken place in the weather. It was in the state of my own feelings, I added bashfully: to clench the explanation.

I never saw such curls—how could I, for there never were such curls!—as those she shook out to hide her blushes. As to the straw hat and blue ribbons which was on the top of the curls, if I could only have hung it up in my room in Buckingham Street, what a priceless possession it would have been!

‘You have just come home from Paris,’ said I.

‘Yes,’ said she. ‘Have you ever been there?’

‘No.’

‘Oh! I hope you’ll go soon! You would like it so much!’

Traces of deep-seated anguish appeared in my countenance. That she should hope I would go, that she should think it possible I could go, was insupportable. I depreciated Paris; I depreciated France. I said I wouldn’t leave England, under existing circumstances, for any earthly consideration. Nothing should induce me. In short, she was shaking the curls again, when the little dog came running along the walk to our relief.

He was mortally jealous of me, and persisted in barking at me. She took him up in her arms—oh my goodness!—and caressed him, but he persisted upon barking still. He wouldn’t let me touch him, when I tried; and then she beat him. It increased my sufferings greatly to see the pats she gave him for punishment on the bridge of his blunt nose, while he winked his eyes, and licked her hand, and still growled within himself like a little double-bass. At length he was quiet—well he might be with her dimpled chin upon his head!—and we walked away to look at a greenhouse.



message 32: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6079 comments Mod


"Here," drawing the cloth off with great pride and care, "are two pieces of furniture to commence with."

Chapter 27

Fred Barnard

1872 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

‘Oh dear, yes!’ said Traddles. ‘I got fifty pounds. I had never been brought up to any profession, and at first I was at a loss what to do for myself. However, I began, with the assistance of the son of a professional man, who had been to Salem House—Yawler, with his nose on one side. Do you recollect him?’

No. He had not been there with me; all the noses were straight in my day.

‘It don’t matter,’ said Traddles. ‘I began, by means of his assistance, to copy law writings. That didn’t answer very well; and then I began to state cases for them, and make abstracts, and that sort of work. For I am a plodding kind of fellow, Copperfield, and had learnt the way of doing such things pithily. Well! That put it in my head to enter myself as a law student; and that ran away with all that was left of the fifty pounds. Yawler recommended me to one or two other offices, however—Mr. Waterbrook’s for one—and I got a good many jobs. I was fortunate enough, too, to become acquainted with a person in the publishing way, who was getting up an Encyclopaedia, and he set me to work; and, indeed’ (glancing at his table), ‘I am at work for him at this minute. I am not a bad compiler, Copperfield,’ said Traddles, preserving the same air of cheerful confidence in all he said, ‘but I have no invention at all; not a particle. I suppose there never was a young man with less originality than I have.’

As Traddles seemed to expect that I should assent to this as a matter of course, I nodded; and he went on, with the same sprightly patience—I can find no better expression—as before.

‘So, by little and little, and not living high, I managed to scrape up the hundred pounds at last,’ said Traddles; ‘and thank Heaven that’s paid—though it was—though it certainly was,’ said Traddles, wincing again as if he had had another tooth out, ‘a pull. I am living by the sort of work I have mentioned, still, and I hope, one of these days, to get connected with some newspaper: which would almost be the making of my fortune. Now, Copperfield, you are so exactly what you used to be, with that agreeable face, and it’s so pleasant to see you, that I sha’n’t conceal anything. Therefore you must know that I am engaged.’

Engaged! Oh, Dora!

‘She is a curate’s daughter,’ said Traddles; ‘one of ten, down in Devonshire. Yes!’ For he saw me glance, involuntarily, at the prospect on the inkstand. ‘That’s the church! You come round here to the left, out of this gate,’ tracing his finger along the inkstand, ‘and exactly where I hold this pen, there stands the house—facing, you understand, towards the church.’

The delight with which he entered into these particulars, did not fully present itself to me until afterwards; for my selfish thoughts were making a ground-plan of Mr. Spenlow’s house and garden at the same moment.

‘She is such a dear girl!’ said Traddles; ‘a little older than me, but the dearest girl! I told you I was going out of town? I have been down there. I walked there, and I walked back, and I had the most delightful time! I dare say ours is likely to be a rather long engagement, but our motto is “Wait and hope!” We always say that. “Wait and hope,” we always say. And she would wait, Copperfield, till she was sixty—any age you can mention—for me!’

Traddles rose from his chair, and, with a triumphant smile, put his hand upon the white cloth I had observed.

‘However,’ he said, ‘it’s not that we haven’t made a beginning towards housekeeping. No, no; we have begun. We must get on by degrees, but we have begun. Here,’ drawing the cloth off with great pride and care, ‘are two pieces of furniture to commence with. This flower-pot and stand, she bought herself. You put that in a parlour window,’ said Traddles, falling a little back from it to survey it with the greater admiration, ‘with a plant in it, and—and there you are! This little round table with the marble top (it’s two feet ten in circumference), I bought. You want to lay a book down, you know, or somebody comes to see you or your wife, and wants a place to stand a cup of tea upon, and—and there you are again!’ said Traddles. ‘It’s an admirable piece of workmanship—firm as a rock!’ I praised them both, highly, and Traddles replaced the covering as carefully as he had removed it.

‘It’s not a great deal towards the furnishing,’ said Traddles, ‘but it’s something. The table-cloths, and pillow-cases, and articles of that kind, are what discourage me most, Copperfield. So does the ironmongery—candle-boxes, and gridirons, and that sort of necessaries—because those things tell, and mount up. However, “wait and hope!” And I assure you she’s the dearest girl!’



message 33: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6079 comments Mod


Phiz in color obviously


message 34: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3277 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "

Uriah persists in hovering near us, at the dinner party.

Chapter 25

Phiz

Commentary:

For the first illustration in the ninth monthly part, January 1850, Phiz introduces into the narrative-pic..."


Kim. Thanks for the illustrations. A pre-Christmas treat for us.

I like how in this illustration Phiz has placed the grouping of Traddles, David, and Agnes in such a way that with David in the middle he has Agnes and Traddles, his two good angels, one on each side, next to his shoulders. In the background, hovering, we see the bad angel Uriah Heep. While the plate’s title bears Heep’s name he is one of the most indistinguishable people in the picture. Very clever.


message 35: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3277 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "

Phiz in color obviously"


Ah, Phiz in colour. Well, in this colouration we might find a hint as to who the female is in the portrait behind Dora. In the b&w commentary for the same plate in message 32 there is a question as to whether the female in the portrait is of Dora or her mother. Well, the dress colour is the same so I’m guessing the portrait should be of Dora. Then again, perhaps the colourist simply used the colour that on the brush. :-)


message 36: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3277 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "Dora was Maria Beadnell, at least according to John Forster she was. Dickens met her when he was seventeen. She was the daughter of a banker in Lombard Street, and was resident there until she was ..."

Kim

Thanks for the detective work regarding who Dora was patterned after. The fiction and the fact fit nicely together. It’s interesting that while Dickens as a mature writer realized that Maria Beadnell was rather flighty he still wanted to connect with her in 1855 five years after the publication of the novel. Was Dickens simply curious?


message 37: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6079 comments Mod
Here are David and Uriah Heep from the 1935 movie. The now grown-up David is played by Frank Lawton, and Uriah Heep is Roland Young. What do you think?




message 38: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6079 comments Mod
This is from a silent film from 1913, I don't know what they are doing:




message 39: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6079 comments Mod
Here's what I've found out about the film, what I can show that's not a spoiler anyway:

David Copperfield is a 1913 British black-and-white silent film based on the 1850 novel David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. It is the second-oldest known film adaptation of the novel. Running six reels, it is significant as a very early British feature film at a moment when the world film industry was beginning its move away from traditional short films towards longer and more ambitious works.

The film was made by the Hepworth Manufacturing Corporation, was produced by Cecil Hepworth and was written and directed by Thomas Bentley. In the United Kingdom it was released in August 1913, and in the United States it was released on 1 December 1913. It ran at 67 minutes on seven reels.

A review of the film in The Dickensian said:

"It occupies close upon two hours to exhibit and is divided into six parts, telling the story of David's life. Obviously the part of David is enacted by three different actors, Master Eric Desmond, Mr Len Bethel and Mr Kenneth Ware. The first-named being one of the cleverest child actors we have seen. We have no space to speak of all the characters presented. Each and all of them were Dickens' creations to the life and not mere exaggerations as is often the case.

The film not only includes all of the most prominent characters and all the necessary incidents of the book to make the story intelligible to the lay reader, but they have been enacted in the actual places in which the novelist laid them."


This 67 minute film took 7 reels? It must have seemed like it was taking forever just sitting there while they changed the reels.


message 40: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6079 comments Mod
Figure this one out, I give up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9C0m...


message 41: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4719 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Peter wrote: "As readers we know one thing for sure about the novel Robinson Crusoe and its main character. There seems to be many references to them, more than one would think mer..."

I'm sure that as soon as we have read the whole novel, those references to Robinson Crusoe might become clearer to us. At least, I hope so.


message 42: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4719 comments Mod
Julie wrote: "While we are accounting for reappearing themes, could somebody please explain to me what the thing is with this book and donkeys and the ill-treatment of donkeys?

he [Traddles] lived in a little s..."


I noticed this detail, too, but really cannot make head or tail of it. No pun intended, but none avoided, either ;-)


message 43: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4719 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "Here's what I've found out about the film, what I can show that's not a spoiler anyway:

David Copperfield is a 1913 British black-and-white silent film based on the 1850 novel David Copperfield by..."


Kim,

A reel of film would generally play for about ten minutes, and so 67 minutes of film would require seven reels. People were very skilled at changing the reels without the audience noticing it, by using two projectors, but I don't know whether this was already done this way with the early films. When you see old movies, you will see, every ten minutes roughly, a little white sign on the upper right (or left?), and this showed the projector-guy that it was time to start the next reel. There is a Columbo murder mystery based on this little detail, which is basically the reason I know about this :-)


message 44: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6079 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "He didn't even do justice to the dinner that was set before him; with me, love, be it unrequited or fulfilled, fresh or inveterate, had never ever interfered with my appetite".

Obviously.


message 45: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4719 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "This is from a silent film from 1913, I don't know what they are doing:

"


The background construction surely looks like a submarine from a Verne novel, but it is supposed to be the Peggotty home, isn't it, and so the lady must be Emily, and the guy next to her ... well?


message 46: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4719 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "Here are David and Uriah Heep from the 1935 movie. The now grown-up David is played by Frank Lawton, and Uriah Heep is Roland Young. What do you think?

"


I do think that the actor playing Uriah is way too old!


message 47: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4719 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "Tristram wrote: "He didn't even do justice to the dinner that was set before him; with me, love, be it unrequited or fulfilled, fresh or inveterate, had never ever interfered with my appetite".

Ob..."


In my country they say that good food is the sex of the old.


message 48: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6079 comments Mod
I'm just sitting here wondering what would have happened to David if there was no Aunt Betsey? Or if there had been when he first went to her, but now had died? I wonder if he could have made it on his own.


message 49: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6079 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "I do think that the actor playing Uriah is way too old!..."

So is David.


message 50: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6079 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "In my country they say that good food is the sex of the old."

I'm thinking about that. Your country doesn't know words that short,


« previous 1 3
back to top