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David Copperfield > Copperfield, Chapters 32-34

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message 1: by Kim (new)

Kim Dear Pickwickians,

Hello to all. Tristram and I have traded weeks so I will be starting this week's thread and Tristram will take my week. At least I hope that is how it works out. Our poor moderator (the grumpy one, not me) has just come home from a two week stay in the hospital after having his appendix rupture resulting in a trip to the hospital and a middle of the night operation. He had kept up on our DC reading while in the hospital, but isn't quite up to opening the thread this week so we have traded. He expects to be his old self by next week, hopefully his old grumpy self. I will say he certainly had me worried disappearing like that for two weeks, and now you're stuck with me two weeks in a row.

We are now at Chapter 32 titled "The Beginning of a Long Journey". Although I understand some of how David feels about Steerforth I do not understand all of what he tells us in the first paragraph:

"What is natural in me, is natural in many other men, I infer, and so I am not afraid to write that I never had loved Steerforth better than when the ties that bound me to him were broken. In the keen distress of the discovery of his unworthiness, I thought more of all that was brilliant in him, I softened more towards all that was good in him, I did more justice to the qualities that might have made him a man of a noble nature and a great name, than ever I had done in the height of my devotion to him. Deeply as I felt my own unconscious part in his pollution of an honest home, I believed that if I had been brought face to face with him, I could not have uttered one reproach. I should have loved him so well still—though he fascinated me no longer—I should have held in so much tenderness the memory of my affection for him, that I think I should have been as weak as a spirit-wounded child, in all but the entertainment of a thought that we could ever be re-united. That thought I never had. I felt, as he had felt, that all was at an end between us. What his remembrances of me were, I have never known—they were light enough, perhaps, and easily dismissed—but mine of him were as the remembrances of a cherished friend, who was dead. "

I would be sad for the loss of a friendship that had meant so much to me and I would have felt like that friend had died; however I am pretty certain that I would not love Steerforth better than ever. I think the present Steerforth and the past Steerforth would seem like two different people to me. But that's just how I felt when I read it, you all may have read it differently. The next morning David finds Mr. Peggotty and Ham on the beach. They have been deciding what they should now do and tell David that Mr. Peggotty is going in search of Emily, Ham will continue working as before and live with Peggotty, and Mrs. Gummidge will stay at the old boat alone. Mr. Peggotty says:

'My wishes is, sir, as it shall look, day and night, winter and summer, as it has always looked, since she fust know'd it. If ever she should come a wandering back, I wouldn't have the old place seem to cast her off, you understand, but seem to tempt her to draw nigher to 't, and to peep in, maybe, like a ghost, out of the wind and rain, through the old winder, at the old seat by the fire. Then, maybe, Mas'r Davy, seein' none but Missis Gummidge there, she might take heart to creep in, trembling; and might come to be laid down in her old bed, and rest her weary head where it was once so gay.'

I could not speak to him in reply, though I tried.

'Every night,' said Mr. Peggotty, 'as reg'lar as the night comes, the candle must be stood in its old pane of glass, that if ever she should see it, it may seem to say "Come back, my child, come back!" If ever there's a knock, Ham (partic'ler a soft knock), arter dark, at your aunt's door, doen't you go nigh it. Let it be her—not you—that sees my fallen child!'


That evening Miss Mowcher visits David and relates her part in the disaster that has struck the Peggotty family. She tells David that when she ran into him and Steerforth in Yarmouth, she believed that David, not Steerforth, was in love with Little Em’ly.

" I saw Steerforth soothe and please you by his praise of her! You were the first to mention her name. You owned to an old admiration of her. You were hot and cold, and red and white, all at once when I spoke to you of her. What could I think—what DID I think—but that you were a young libertine in everything but experience, and had fallen into hands that had experience enough, and could manage you (having the fancy) for your own good?"

Miss Mowcher agreed to give Little Em’ly a letter, which she thought David had written which was Emily's first contact with Littimer and began the affair. Miss Mowcher apologizes for causing such a nightmare and cautions David not to judge her based on her size. She reminds him that it is not her fault that she was born a dwarf and that she must act the way she does to get by in the high society she keeps. When Miss Mowcher leaves, he reflects that he has a very different opinion of her than before. The reason Dickens now gives us a different opinion of her is because the woman who Miss Mowcher was based upon had threatened to sue him, this is what Forster says about it:

"That he felt nevertheless he had done wrong, and would now do anything to repair it. That he had intended to employ the character in an unpleasant way, but he would, whatever the risk or inconvenience, change it all, so that nothing but an agreeable impression should be left. The reader will remember how this was managed, and that the thirty-second chapter went far to undo what the twenty-second had done."

The next morning, Mr. Peggotty, Peggotty, and David leave for London, where they decide to visit Mrs. Steerforth. Mrs. Steerforth is quite unmoved by Em'ly's letter and her wish to return a "lady."

'"Unless he brings me back a lady,"' said Mr. Peggotty, tracing out that part with his finger. 'I come to know, ma'am, whether he will keep his wured?'

'No,' she returned.

'Why not?' said Mr. Peggotty.

'It is impossible. He would disgrace himself. You cannot fail to know that she is far below him.'

'Raise her up!' said Mr. Peggotty.

'She is uneducated and ignorant.'


Mrs. Steerforth swears that her son will never marry her and states emphatically that her son's marriage to Emily is "impossible." Such a marriage would irretrievably blight his career, and ruin his prospects. If Steerforth returns without Emily, she will forgive him; otherwise "he never shall come near me." Rosa stops them as they leave and says this about Emily:

'I would trample on them all,' she answered. 'I would have his house pulled down. I would have her branded on the face, dressed in rags, and cast out in the streets to starve. If I had the power to sit in judgement on her, I would see it done. See it done? I would do it! I detest her. If I ever could reproach her with her infamous condition, I would go anywhere to do so. If I could hunt her to her grave, I would. If there was any word of comfort that would be a solace to her in her dying hour, and only I possessed it, I wouldn't part with it for Life itself.'

The chapter ends with Mr. Peggotty going in search of Emily:

"He said this solemnly, bare-headed; then, putting on his hat, he went down the stairs, and away. We followed to the door. It was a warm, dusty evening, just the time when, in the great main thoroughfare out of which that by-way turned, there was a temporary lull in the eternal tread of feet upon the pavement, and a strong red sunshine. He turned, alone, at the corner of our shady street, into a glow of light, in which we lost him.

Rarely did that hour of the evening come, rarely did I wake at night, rarely did I look up at the moon, or stars, or watch the falling rain, or hear the wind, but I thought of his solitary figure toiling on, poor pilgrim, and recalled the words:

'I'm a going to seek her, fur and wide. If any hurt should come to me, remember that the last words I left for her was, "My unchanged love is with my darling child, and I forgive her!"



message 2: by Kim (new)

Kim Chapter 33 "Blissful" has us back to Dora. David tells us that Dora is "related to a higher order of beings"; the star of Dora shines brighter and purer high above the world; all kinds of silly stuff like that. He walks around the house the first night he is back in London for two hours " looking through crevices in the palings, getting my chin by dint of violent exertion above the rusty nails on the top, blowing kisses at the lights in the windows, and romantically calling on the night, at intervals, to shield my Dora—I don't exactly know what from, I suppose from fire. Perhaps from mice, to which she had a great objection." And he is back to wearing boots that are too tight again and I still haven't figured out why.

Something very strange happens in this chapter. David takes Peggotty to the "Commons office" to pay her bill and is startled to meet, as I also am, Mr. Murdstone in Mr. Spenlow's company. Mr. Murdstone is there to get a marriage license, but it seems quite the coincidence that he would arrive just when David and Peggotty are there and although I enjoy Peggotty's remarks I'm confused as to why we needed Murdstone back in the story.

'I hope,' he said, 'that you are doing well?'

'It can hardly be interesting to you,' said I. 'Yes, if you wish to know.'

We looked at each other, and he addressed himself to Peggotty.

'And you,' said he. 'I am sorry to observe that you have lost your husband.'

'It's not the first loss I have had in my life, Mr. Murdstone,' replied Peggotty, trembling from head to foot. 'I am glad to hope that there is nobody to blame for this one,—nobody to answer for it.'

'Ha!' said he; 'that's a comfortable reflection. You have done your duty?'

'I have not worn anybody's life away,' said Peggotty, 'I am thankful to think! No, Mr. Murdstone, I have not worrited and frightened any sweet creetur to an early grave!' "



David and Mr. Spenlow go into court to settle a divorce case and afterwards they engage in a lengthy conversation about the law. David feels that many aspects of the law are in need of reform and suggests some changes, but the conservative Mr. Spenlow considers it "the principle of a gentleman to take things as he found them.

" He said, Look at the world, there was good and evil in that; look at the ecclesiastical law, there was good and evil in THAT. It was all part of a system. Very good. There you were! "

Eventually Mr. Spenlow tells David it is almost Dora's birthday and invites him to his house for Dora’s birthday party. At the party, David makes a great show of not being jealous as another man "Red Whisker" pays attention to Dora, making her salad, eating next to her and getting her wine. David attaches himself to a "young creature in pink" and flirts with her. Dora’s friend Julia Mills forces David and Dora to reconcile.

'Mr. Copperfield and Dora,' said Miss Mills, with an almost venerable air. 'Enough of this. Do not allow a trivial misunderstanding to wither the blossoms of spring, which, once put forth and blighted, cannot be renewed. I speak,' said Miss Mills, 'from experience of the past—the remote, irrevocable past. The gushing fountains which sparkle in the sun, must not be stopped in mere caprice; the oasis in the desert of Sahara must not be plucked up idly.'

As the picnic ends, Julia Mills tells David that Dora will be staying at her home for a few days, and she invites him to come to call on them. David is elated and Miss Mills arranges for them to meet at her house when Dora comes to visit. When David calls on them he tells Dora of his feelings for her:

"I don't know how I did it. I did it in a moment. I intercepted Jip. I had Dora in my arms. I was full of eloquence. I never stopped for a word. I told her how I loved her. I told her I should die without her. I told her that I idolized and worshipped her. Jip barked madly all the time."

David and Dora become engaged but secretly. The chapter ends:

"What an idle time! What an insubstantial, happy, foolish time! Of all the times of mine that Time has in his grip, there is none that in one retrospect I can smile at half so much, and think of half so tenderly."


message 3: by Kim (new)

Kim Chapter 34 begins with David writing to Agnes to tell her about Dora. He tells her of his engagement to Dora, of how happy he is and of Dora being a darling. He also tells her of Emily's flight from her home but doesn't mention Steerforth, only saying there had been sad grief at Yarmouth, on account of Emily's flight.

At this time Mrs. Crupp resents Peggotty being in David's room so often and Mrs. Crupp resigns"everything appertaining to her office (the salary excepted) until Peggotty should cease to present herself." She tells David this in a letter:

"She named no names, she said; let them the cap fitted, wear it; but spies, intruders, and informers, especially in widders' weeds (this clause was underlined), she had ever accustomed herself to look down upon. If a gentleman was the victim of spies, intruders, and informers (but still naming no names), that was his own pleasure. He had a right to please himself; so let him do. All that she, Mrs. Crupp, stipulated for, was, that she should not be 'brought in contract' with such persons. Therefore she begged to be excused from any further attendance on the top set, until things were as they formerly was, and as they could be wished to be; and further mentioned that her little book would be found upon the breakfast-table every Saturday morning, when she requested an immediate settlement of the same, with the benevolent view of saving trouble 'and an ill-conwenience' to all parties.

After this, Mrs. Crupp confined herself to making pitfalls on the stairs, principally with pitchers, and endeavouring to delude Peggotty into breaking her legs. I found it rather harassing to live in this state of siege, but was too much afraid of Mrs. Crupp to see any way out of it."


Traddles soon visits David and tells him more about his fiancée Sophy, who is the fourth of ten children of a curate in Devonshire and who cares for her mother, who has lost the use of her limbs, and her sisters. Traddles tells David that Mr. Micawber has come into severe financial difficulties and has been forced to move and change his name to Mortimer. He also has taken to wearing glasses, and only goes out at night in order to avoid his creditors. The authorities have seized all of Mr. Micawber’s things, including Traddle's flower pot and table. Traddles asks Peggotty to go purchase these items from the pawnbroker because the broker knows how much Traddles wants them and so raises the prices when Traddles tries. Peggotty agrees to help and is able to buy them on "easy terms".

When they arrive home they first notice that all the "pitfalls" on the stairs are gone and they hear voices in his room. When they open the door they find Miss Betsey and Mr. Dick are there with all of their things and with the news that she has been ruined by faulty business decisions. This chapter ends with:

"I was roused from my amazement, and concern for her—I am sure, for her—by her falling on my neck, for a moment, and crying that she only grieved for me. In another moment she suppressed this emotion; and said with an aspect more triumphant than dejected:

'We must meet reverses boldly, and not suffer them to frighten us, my dear. We must learn to act the play out. We must live misfortune down, Trot!'


And now I am once again finished and on my way to find the illustrations.


message 4: by Peter (new)

Peter Kim wrote: "

Mr. Peggotty and Mrs. Steerforth

"She sat upright in her arm-chair, with a stately, immoveable, passionless air, that it seemed as if nothing could disturb. She looked very stedfastly at Mr. Pe..."


First I am picturing Tristram sitting in a chair, his copy of David Copperfield in his hands, healing well and not at all grumpy. Indeed, is that a smile on his face? Definitely. What part of the book has occasioned that? We will never know. Take care, Tristram. I know we will hear from you soon.

Kim. Thank you for taking over the Pickwick bus. We are a merry crew and appreciate your presence.

Now to this illustration. Since Kim has posted the illustrations I have been trying to look at them more closely. Everyone in this illustration is looking at someone else, except David, who is looking down to the floor, perhaps in shame as it is he who first introduced Steerforth to Little Em'ly? In the bottom right of the picture is a cat that seems to be starting to climb up the curtain. In the top right seems to be a birdcage. Is the cat trying to get to the bird? Steerforth and Little Em'ly?

Behind the tableau of the characters over the fireplace appears to be a picture and on both sides of that picture a bust. These items form a "V" shape that point directly down to the slumping posture of David. The characters of Rosa, Mrs. Steerforth and Mr. Peggotty also form a triangle shape. While none of the characters is looking directly at David, he is in the centre of their triangle point of vision as well.

David is in the centre position of the picture but the only person or figure not in eye contact with any other person in the illustration. His slumping posture suggests the weight of his guilt.


message 5: by Kim (new)

Kim These are some of the things I find in different commentaries I read in looking for the illustrations, I myself never notice most of these things, I almost never can see them good enough to notice.

"Emily's story is continued in "We are disturbed in our cookery" (ch. 28), in which the slimy Mr. Littimer appears and asks about his master's whereabouts; only the rather comical print of Damocles with his sword about to descend hints at the impending disaster of Emily's flight with Steerforth. The sword has descended already in "Mr. Peggotty and Mrs. Steerforth" (ch. 32) which contains a set of significant details commenting upon the action in general terms: the large portrait of Steerforth as a small child provides (in the innocence of the child and the carefreeness of the butterfly beside him) a contrast to the present situation, while just below the portrait is one of those Father Time clocks common in Browne's etchings. Here the figure most clearly illustrates the transitoriness of human existence by his resolute step. A less hackneyed image is the kitten attempting to get at the caged bird, for although one might think this refers simply to the abduction of Emily, Hogarth's use of similar emblems in The Graham Children suggests that it is also relevant to the theme of time passing. In Hogarth's painting, as Ronald Paulson describes it, "a tiny figure of Cupid with a scythe like Father Time's rests atop the clock at the left, and opposite him a cat eyes the bird in its cage -- these, flanking the happy, smiling children, constitute an admonitory allegory" on the transitory nature of youth, beauty, happiness and innocence, the illusion of a world where birds aren't killed by cats (Hogarth, 1: 459.). Phiz makes the allegory more complex by drawing a kitten which, like the infant Steerforth, will have to grow up in order to do harm to other living creatures. Finally, the male and female busts may simply represent adult sexual life, but Johannsen identifies the male one as Apollo, and it does resemble conventional heads of that god. The allusion might either suggest Steerforth's exceptional male beauty or the pagan gods' tendency to become enamored of mortal women -- just as Steerforth has stooped from his social height to choose a fisherman's daughter.(Dicken & Phiz, Michael Steig")

Another notices these things:

"The text announces their time of arrival as "two o'clock in the afternoon", but the clock on the mantelpiece behind David shows the beginning of the interview as occurring an hour later." I have no idea why.

"Phiz positions David in the centre, hat in hand to emphasize how David feels caught in the middle, appreciating the feelings of both distraught parents. Sympathizing with Mrs. Steerforth because he still loves her son, though not as uncritically as before, and David silently commiserates with Dan'l Peggotty, a parent determined to rescue his adopted daughter from a life of disgrace and exploitation."

"In her physical rigidity, which foreshadows Mrs. Steerforth's refusal even to contemplate permitting her son to marry beneath him socially, she reminds the viewer of Jane Murdstone. David, who stands below the painting above the mantelpiece portraying James Steerforth as an infant, appears stricken, his intense inner gaze perhaps reflecting his sense of personal responsibility for introducing Steerforth to the Peggottys. David is dressed exactly as in the previous illustration, "I find Mr. Barkis 'going out with the tide'", whereas Mr. Peggotty, although looking much the same and again in profile, is wearing a travelling jacket rather than a nautical smockfrock. He is now a far more serious and less jovial Dan'l Peggotty."



message 6: by Peter (new)

Peter Kim wrote: "These are some of the things I find in different commentaries I read in looking for the illustrations, I myself never notice most of these things, I almost never can see them good enough to notice...."

Wow! Thanks Kim. The illustrations do offer great commentary to the story as well.


message 7: by Peter (new)

Peter David's rememberences of Steerforth are "the remembrances of a cherished friend, who was dead." Mr. Peggotty comments at the end of the chapter, referring to Little Em'ly, that "my unchanged love is with my darling child, and I forgive her!" On the other hand, Mrs Steerforth says that as long as her son returns without Little Em'ly she will forgive him and Rosa unleashes a vitriolic speech against Em'ly.

The House of Steerforth is certainly one whose foundation is built on hatred and class consciousness. The world of Peggotty and David is built upon love and forgiveness. How these homes' foundations will withstand the events to come is yet to be determined.


message 8: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2034 comments Kim wrote: " it seems quite the coincidence that he would arrive just when David and Peggotty are there and although I enjoy Peggotty's remarks I'm confused as to why we needed Murdstone back in the story."

Yes, that struck me too as being too much of a coincidence even for Dickens, who excels in coincidences. So we now have both Murdstones, who are living separately, diving back into the story. A bit much even for our beloved CD.


message 9: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2034 comments Kim wrote: "Mrs. Steerforth swears that her son will never marry her and states emphatically that her son's marriage to Emily is "impossible." Such a marriage would irretrievably blight his career, and ruin his prospects."

Mrs. S. needs to be roasted over a slow fire. How can a woman not have any care at all for her son ruining another woman, and even hoping that he will presumably bed her and then leave her destitute and ruined, and probably pregnant and alone somewhere on the continent. How any mother could wish this on a child is beyond my ability to comprehend, let alone to forgive.


message 10: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2034 comments Kim wrote: "After this, Mrs. Crupp confined herself to making pitfalls on the stairs, principally with pitchers, and endeavouring to delude Peggotty into breaking her legs. I found it rather harassing to live in this state of siege, but was too much afraid of Mrs. Crupp to see any way out of it." "

Did anybody else reading this think back to Mrs MacStinger?


message 11: by Ami (last edited Apr 28, 2015 10:45AM) (new)

Ami Everyman wrote: "Kim wrote: "Mrs. Steerforth swears that her son will never marry her and states emphatically that her son's marriage to Emily is "impossible." Such a marriage would irretrievably blight his career,..."

Peter wrote: "David's rememberences of Steerforth are "the remembrances of a cherished friend, who was dead." Mr. Peggotty comments at the end of the chapter, referring to Little Em'ly, that "my unchanged love..."

On the other hand, Mrs Steerforth says that as long as her son returns without Little Em'ly she will forgive him and Rosa unleashes a vitriolic speech against Em'ly.
I found Rosa's speech to come out of left field, for me...I don't know why I was under the impression she would have felt empathy for Em'ly? It was the punishment by "branding" comment which threw me. I thought of it as a play on the word "brand..." The significance of the "brand" on Rosa's upper lip and the "branding" of Em'ly's reputation, both at the hands of Steerforth.

Regardless of any detailed accounts between Em'ly and Steerforth, she's already been given a mark by society.

The House of Steerforth is certainly one whose foundation is built on hatred and class consciousness. The world of Peggotty and David is built upon love and forgiveness. How these homes' foundations will withstand the events to come is yet to be determined.
Well, I think this boils down to those who have everything to lose and nothing to gain (in their eyes), versus those who have nothing and everything to gain?

How any mother could wish this on a child is beyond my ability to comprehend, let alone to forgive.
The kind who raise monsters...The kind who see their child with its hand in a forbidden honey pot, and then blame the sweetness of the honey for enticing her child? She blames Em'ly for seducing her son, I find this to be deplorable. Maybe she has taken this stand because she doesn't want to pay for her son's mistake by being under the microscope of society. This shall pass for Steerforth, but will society let it go for the mother...Doesn't it all fall on the mother in the end? I see now who Steerforth gets his selfish nature from.


message 12: by Ami (new)

Ami Does anybody have an guesses as to whom Mr. Murdstone is to be betrothed? Boy, I was so worried it was Dora at the time...Whew! :) I really enjoyed the words which passed between David, Peggotty (Barkis), and Mr. Murdstone; regardless of the fact them phasing the man at all. I don't think this is the last we will hear from him, unfortunately.


message 13: by Peter (new)

Peter Ami wrote: "Everyman wrote: "Kim wrote: "Mrs. Steerforth swears that her son will never marry her and states emphatically that her son's marriage to Emily is "impossible." Such a marriage would irretrievably b..."

Ami

I like your idea/insight on the word "brand." Yes, a brand can be physical, but being branded by society is equally, and I would argue, often worse than any physical brand.


message 14: by Ami (last edited Apr 28, 2015 11:09AM) (new)

Ami Peter wrote: "Ami wrote: "Everyman wrote: "Kim wrote: "Mrs. Steerforth swears that her son will never marry her and states emphatically that her son's marriage to Emily is "impossible." Such a marriage would irr..."

I still can't answer for Rosa's bitter words, or what fueled them. In every interaction with Rosa, she's made it a point to reveal Steerforth's true nature, but now that a full beam of light is shown upon him, she reacts as we've just read...I'm confused by her. I wonder if Steerforth is really Rosa's son by birth, and not Mrs. Steerforth's (pure speculation)? This would answer her current behavior, but not the past...I really don't know, Peter? :S

Edit: I must have forgotten and it just came to me, but isn't Steerforth a spitting image of Mrs. Steerforth...Nevermind the theory above? LoL!


message 15: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Winn | 364 comments Kim wrote: "Hello to all. Tristram and I have traded weeks so I will be starting this week's thread and Tristram will take my week....

I would be sad for the loss of a friendship that had meant so much to me and I would have felt like that friend had died; however I am pretty certain that I would not love Steerforth better than ever. I think the present Steerforth and the past Steerforth would seem like two different people to me. "


Thanks for doubling up your weeks, Kim. I'm sorry to hear about Tristram; that happened to my grandfather, and I recall hearing it was very painful.

I agree with you about David's reaction to Steerforth's betrayal. I was disappointed David would not have reproached him. When he describes himself as a 'spirit-wounded child', my impression is that he views Steerforth as a big brother, or surrogate father, not as a friend.

The reason Dickens now gives us a different opinion of her is because the woman who Miss Mowcher was based upon had threatened to sue him, this is what Forster says about it...

Although I find Miss Mowcher's change of character inconsistent, I have to confess some delight that a woman, especially a very small one, could compel Dickens to rewrite a character :)


message 16: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Winn | 364 comments Peter wrote: "David's rememberences of Steerforth are "the remembrances of a cherished friend, who was dead." Mr. Peggotty comments at the end of the chapter, referring to Little Em'ly, that "my unchanged love..."

I felt Mr. Peggotty's speech to Mrs. Steerforth was powerful -- much more dignified than her stateliness and pride. And what a contrast to his modesty when meeting Steerforth for the first time at Creakle's school.


message 17: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Winn | 364 comments Everyman wrote: "How can a woman not have any care at all for her son ruining another woman, and even hoping that he will presumably bed her and then leave her destitute and ruined, and probably pregnant and alone somewhere on the continent..."

That's a very good point that a child might be involved -- Mrs. S's own grandchild, making her appear even colder.


message 18: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Winn | 364 comments Ami wrote: "I still can't answer for Rosa's bitter words, or what fueled them. In every interaction with Rosa, she's made it a point to reveal Steerforth's true nature, but now that a full beam of light is shown upon him, she reacts as we've just read....."

I have the uneasy suspicion she's jealous, and maybe even 'loves' him, despite her understanding of his character. Ugh. When she strikes her throbbing scar, is it anger at Steerforth and/or Em'ly, or self-loathing?


message 19: by Peter (new)

Peter Vanessa wrote: "Peter wrote: "David's rememberences of Steerforth are "the remembrances of a cherished friend, who was dead." Mr. Peggotty comments at the end of the chapter, referring to Little Em'ly, that "my ..."

Yes. Mr Peggotty's two speeches show much breadth of character.


message 20: by Peter (new)

Peter Thanks for the pics, Kim. Is it me or does the portrait of Steerforth make him look older than his mother?


message 21: by Kim (new)

Kim He looks very similar to her now that I'm looking at the portrait closer. However he looks - he certainly doesn't look the way I have him pictured in my mind. He just looks like her without the hat to me.


message 22: by Peter (new)

Peter Kim's posting of the illustrations have me fascinated. Working with H.K. Browne's illustrations I found the comparison of Peggotty's boathouse in Ch. 21 and the Steerforth residence in Ch. 32 offer much contrast, and are, consequently, very informative. The boathouse illustration shows a rather poor home with little furnishing or accessories. What is found within this residence is, however, very impressive. This home is a place where people of various backgrounds and abilities, all of whom are, in some way, orphaned, alone or widowed, can be together and welcome. The illustration has rounded features. From the arch of the roof (the upturned boat) to the relaxed stance and groupings of the people, we feel this is an inclusive place, a place to gather and be together.

The illustration in Ch. 32 is much different. With the backdrop of opulence and wealth we notice that the people are all rigid. Their stance and attitude is angular, sharp, and defensive. Here, people are excluded. If we take Little Em'ly as our fulcrum, we learn much. Mrs. Steerforth makes it very clear that Em'ly will never ever be welcome in her home. Rosa remains rigid and hostile. On the other hand, even though Em'ly has left the boathouse, Mr. Peggotty makes it very clear that she will always be welcome. Indeed, while Peggotty plans to search the world to find Em'ly, Mrs. Steerforth fully intends to lock Em'ly out. The illustrations and the text work in concert to present the readers with not only a written narrative, but a visual one as well.


message 23: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Peter wrote: "Kim's posting of the illustrations have me fascinated. Working with H.K. Browne's illustrations I found the comparison of Peggotty's boathouse in Ch. 21 and the Steerforth residence in Ch. 32 off..."

Very good point, Peter! This, once more, shows that H.K. Browne really gave a lot of thought to what he was doing in his collaboration with Dickens. Unfortunately my Penguin edition of DC does not give the complete illustrations but just a selection of them.


message 24: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy I was thinking about what you - in this and the preceding thread - said about the parallelism between the Steerforhts and the Heeps as well as about class consciousness.

My tuppence:

Uriah Heep is clearly meant to be seen as more repulsive than Steerforth, and here Dickens makes free use of social stereotype as well e.g. by having Uriah drop his aitches and thus hinting at his low origins. Add to this the ghastly outward appearance, his writhing and convulsive movements and some forms of odd behaviour (cf. the pony) and we have the upstart creep who does not know his place but wants to better his social position - in Uriah's case by hook or by crook.

Steerforth is even permitted his moment of redemption when he muses on never having had a father and all that - some moment on insight, of showing the character's motivations that has, as yet, been denied to Uriah, who is like a caricature of evil.

And yet, I have something nice to say about Uriah: Unlike Steerforth, he seems to have a close and loving relationship with his mother (as can be seen in the chapter where David is corkscrewed by the two of them). They might try to take advantage of everyone around them, but I have not seen Uriah manipulate his mother the same way I have seen Steerforth do it. - There's a trace of humanity!

The importance of class for Dickens - for all his social awareness - can be seen in a little passage in Chapter 11:

"Yet I held some station at Murdstone and Grinby's too. Besides that Mr. Quinion did what a careless man so occupied, and dealing with a thing so anomalous, could, to treat me as one upon a different footing from the rest, I never said, to man or boy, how it was that I came to be there, or gave the least indication of being sorry that I was there. That I suffered in secret, and that I suffered exquisitely, no one ever knew but I. How much I suffered, it is, as I have said already, utterly beyond my power to tell. But I kept my own counsel, and I did my work. I knew from the first, that, if I could not do my work as well as any of the rest, I could not hold myself above slight and contempt. I soon became at least as expeditious and as skilful as either of the other boys. Though perfectly familiar with them, my conduct and manner were different enough from theirs to place a space between us. They and the men generally spoke of me as 'the little gent', or 'the young Suffolker.' A certain man named Gregory, who was foreman of the packers, and another named Tipp, who was the carman, and wore a red jacket, used to address me sometimes as 'David': but I think it was mostly when we were very confidential, and when I had made some efforts to entertain them, over our work, with some results of the old readings; which were fast perishing out of my remembrance. Mealy Potatoes uprose once, and rebelled against my being so distinguished; but Mick Walker settled him in no time."

In short: David, although forced to do menial work, can never be made to be a menial worker because he is a middle class boy. Bearing this in mind, it might be argued that Dickens was hardly implying any parallels between Uriah's ambitions and his pursuit of Agnes and David's pursuit of his employer's daughter - since David's class background would have given him a right to Dora whereas Uriah's background, in Dickens's eyes, would never have done so with regard to Agnes.

Another thing in this context is the use of accent or dialect: Dickens has both Mr. Peggotty and Ham speak with a broad accent, the same goes for Mrs. Gummdige. But why does not Emily, who has spent all her life among these people, speak the same way? Magic? Any influence by Professor Higgins? Or is it simply the fact that for Dickens, an idealized woman could never speak in a local dialect, which was regarded, after all, as uncouth and low? Female characters like Mrs. Gummidge, or Mrs. Gamp, could because they are funny. But Emily can't, and neither can Lizzy Hexam, another case of unaccountable dialect-freeness. And why did Oliver Twist never speak like all the people around him to whom he was exposed from the day of his birth - but rather like Mr. Brownlow, whom he would not meet before many years? - There is snobbery in this, I'd say.


message 25: by Kim (new)

Kim Tristram wrote: "Uriah Heep is clearly meant to be seen as more repulsive than Steerforth, and here Dickens makes free use of social stereotype as well e.g. by having Uriah drop his aitches and thus hinting at his low origins. Add to this the ghastly outward appearance, his writhing and convulsive movements"

Reading what you said about Uriah Heep's movements reminded me of something I read about him:

"Heep is repeatedly described as ugly and repulsive, even in his youth - tall, lank and pale with red hair and lashless eyes. Dickens negatively emphasizes Heep's movements as well, described as jerking and writhing; this leads some literary scholars to believe Dickens is describing a form of dystonia, a muscular disorder, to increase Heep's snakelike character."

Yes, I had to look up dystonia, I never heard of it before:

"Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder in which sustained muscle contractions cause twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal postures. The movements may resemble a tremor. Dystonia is often initiated or worsened by voluntary movements, and symptoms may “overflow” into adjacent muscles. The term "dystonia" was first used in 1911, by Hermann Oppenheim.

Symptoms vary according to the kind of dystonia involved. In most cases, dystonia tends to lead to abnormal posturing, in particular on movement. Many sufferers have continuous pain, cramping, and relentless muscle spasms due to involuntary muscle movements. Other motor symptoms are possible including lip smacking."



message 26: by Peter (new)

Peter Tristram wrote: "I was thinking about what you - in this and the preceding thread - said about the parallelism between the Steerforhts and the Heeps as well as about class consciousness.

My tuppence:

Uriah Heep i..."


Tristram

Lots to consider here. Child-parent relationships, class consciousness, language/class identification and medical issues. The best part is the length and depth of your insight. I think my non-medical diagnosis would be you are feeling much better.

A dose of Dickens is the best tonic!


message 27: by Peter (new)

Peter Kim wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Uriah Heep is clearly meant to be seen as more repulsive than Steerforth, and here Dickens makes free use of social stereotype as well e.g. by having Uriah drop his aitches and thu..."

Kim

I never heard of dystonia either. Thanks for the medical research. I'm betting this is a condition that Dickens saw first hand on one of his many rambles around London.


message 28: by Linda (new)

Linda | 712 comments Peter wrote: "Now to this illustration. Since Kim has posted the illustrations I have been trying to look at them more closely."

Kim wrote: "These are some of the things I find in different commentaries I read in looking for the illustrations..."

Kim, thank you for the excellent recap. I did finish reading last week, but am just now getting to read through the thread. Thank you also for the illustrations. And that was an interesting bit of history concerning the change in Miss Mowcher's character.

Peter, I enjoyed your commentary on the illustration, and then the additional commentary that Kim found furthered my appreciation for the illustrations. In the past I have generally just glanced at the illustrations to see what the take was on how the characters looked and which scenes were chosen to be sketched. But slowly I'm beginning to actually study the illustrations more to see if I can pick more out of them.

With all the talk last week concerning David's "instant love" of Dora and if it could actually be love or not, I have to say that I found myself quite happy for him to have gone on the picnic with Dora in such an ecstatic state of mind, and then to subsequently get engaged. My favorite bit was David's keen observation of the so-called Red Whisker (I couldn't help but laugh at the nickname) and how David observed that Red Whisker pretended he could make a salad (which I don't believe).


message 29: by Linda (new)

Linda | 712 comments Everyman wrote: "Did anybody else reading this think back to Mrs MacStinger?"

Regarding Mrs. Crupp - yes! Not having ever read a biography on Dickens, I'm wondering at what time in his was he so terrified and harassed by such a landlady?


message 30: by Linda (new)

Linda | 712 comments Peter wrote: "The House of Steerforth is certainly one whose foundation is built on hatred and class consciousness. The world of Peggotty and David is built upon love and forgiveness. How these homes' foundations will withstand the events to come is yet to be determined."

Peter, this is perfect. I like the apparent ease with which you pick out and state such contrasts like this.


message 31: by Linda (new)

Linda | 712 comments Ami wrote: "Does anybody have an guesses as to whom Mr. Murdstone is to be betrothed? Boy, I was so worried it was Dora at the time...Whew! :)"

Oh my, no I did not suspect it was Dora while reading this part. And I'm glad, I would have been on pins and needles! lol.

It is suspicious Mr. Murdstone has entered the picture again, though. So as to who he is to marry is curious indeed. Is it someone we have already met, or is it too late in the book for Dickens to introduce new characters (I don't think so)?


message 32: by Linda (new)

Linda | 712 comments Peter wrote: "Tristram

Lots to consider here. Child-parent relationships, class consciousness, language/class identification and medical issues. The best part is the length and depth of your insight. I think my non-medical diagnosis would be you are feeling much better."



Tristram's post concerning class and dialect got me thinking, but being near the end of the evening for me I was ready to "think about it tomorrow". Then I read your post, Peter, and I got quite the chuckle. :)

Yes, Tristram. I'm glad you are feeling better. Thank Dickens!


message 33: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Peter wrote: "A dose of Dickens is the best tonic!"

It definitely is, Peter - and it's also difficult to think of something such as an overdose of Dickens :-)


message 34: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Linda wrote: "Everyman wrote: "Did anybody else reading this think back to Mrs MacStinger?"

Regarding Mrs. Crupp - yes! Not having ever read a biography on Dickens, I'm wondering at what time in his was he so ..."


If I remember right there was a stern old landlady when Dickens was a child and working in the blacking warehourse, but that lady stood model for Mrs. Pipchin - and Dickens was apparently so impressed with his childhood memories that not only did he have Mrs. Pipchin appear in many parts of Dombey and Son, which was a bit contrived to me, but he also gave his illustrator a lot of instructions as to what Mrs. Pipchin was supposed to look like.


message 35: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Linda wrote: "Yes, Tristram. I'm glad you are feeling better. Thank Dickens! "

To be fair, in the hospital my reading diet not only consisted of Dickens but also of my other favourite Conrad, and of Arthur Conan Doyle. Must be the mixture!


message 36: by Peter (new)

Peter Tristram wrote: "Linda wrote: "Yes, Tristram. I'm glad you are feeling better. Thank Dickens! "

To be fair, in the hospital my reading diet not only consisted of Dickens but also of my other favourite Conrad, and ..."


Confession time for me. I'm not sure at what age I first read the stories of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, but every time I'm sick that is who I read. Perhaps it's the length of the stories, perhaps the time period, perhaps the style, but I overdose on Doyle. I don't get sick too often ( touch wood) but when I do I know one of the remedies.


message 37: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy No wonder we read Doyle when we are sick: After all he was a doctor!


message 38: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2034 comments Linda wrote: "Is it someone we have already met, or is it too late in the book for Dickens to introduce new characters (I don't think so)? "

It never seems to be too late for Dickens to introduce new characters. Somewhere I read, long ago, that Dickens had a practice of introducing at least one significant new character in each episode (each weekly or monthly sections), though I can't confirm that it was true.


message 39: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2034 comments Tristram wrote: "No wonder we read Doyle when we are sick: After all he was a doctor!"

And so was Watson. Fortunately for his patients, he was apparently a better doctor than a detective!


message 40: by Peter (new)

Peter Thanks guys. I feel better already and I'm not even sick!


message 41: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) Sorry I haven't been contributing. Accompanied my husband to Strasbourg as he had some meetings there. Lovely
time only my chronic back pain has taken a turn for the worse so I can nearly walk.
Bulging discs etc. at least I've now got an MRI
referral and a neurosurgery referral, well I don't have dates yet so
I hope that it's not too long a wait.

Concerning this section, Mrs Steerforth's outright prejudice towards little Em'ly was disturbing. It's all about Mrs S's feelings. James Steerforth didn't fall far from the tree...


message 42: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) * hardly


message 43: by Peter (new)

Peter Hilary wrote: "Sorry I haven't been contributing. Accompanied my husband to Strasbourg as he had some meetings there. Lovely
time only my chronic back pain has taken a turn for the worse so I can nearly walk.
..."


Hilary

I hope your discomfort is not due to carrying the big Dickens novels around.

Take care of yourself.

Peter


message 44: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Hilary wrote: "Sorry I haven't been contributing. Accompanied my husband to Strasbourg as he had some meetings there. Lovely
time only my chronic back pain has taken a turn for the worse so I can nearly walk.
..."


Hi Hilary,

I'm sorry to hear about your health problems and hope that you will be better soon. Straßburg is a very beautiful place to visit (the cathedral, the Gerberviertel etc.), but I especially like Alsatian cuisine.


message 45: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) Thanks for your well wishes, Peter. Maybe I oughtn't to have attempted to carry 3 tomes by DC under each arm. :D

Thanks Tristram. It's a pretty city. We had one day of sunshine when everything was at its best. The cathedral is really fascinating. At first I found it very dark inside, but I got used to it. I loved the pinkish tinted stone and the magnificent pipe organ. The local people are very friendly and helpful. I'm not sure how much authentic food I had, but the beer was lovely! [g]


message 46: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) Oh I don't know if we were in the Gerbervertiel. I love the mix of languages: French, German and Alsatian. I hadn't known that the latter existed. I know it's had a troubled history, so in your honour I'll refer to it as Straßburg this time! ;-)


message 47: by Kim (new)

Kim Hilary wrote: "Oh I don't know if we were in the Gerbervertiel. I love the mix of languages: French, German and Alsatian. I hadn't known that the latter existed. I know it's had a troubled history, so in your ..."

I'm so sorry for your back pain, if you need any advice on which really, really strong pain medications to take just let me know, I'm practically an expert on them. :-)

As to the MRI, I had one once on my brain to see if there were any reasons for my headaches and seizures such as a brain tumor, although since at the time I had headaches and seizures for twenty-five years and if it was a brain tumor I didn't see what it would matter, anyway a few days later the doctor called and told me they didn't see anything. I'm still laughing about that.


message 48: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) Thanks so much, Kim. Any pain med suggestions would be gladly received! The new lot I'm on are scarcely hitting the spot!

Wow, so glad they found no tumour.
Thanks again.


message 49: by Kim (new)

Kim Hilary wrote: "Thanks so much, Kim. Any pain med suggestions would be gladly received! The new lot I'm on are scarcely hitting the spot!

Wow, so glad they found no tumour.
Thanks again. "


Yes, but did they find the brain?


message 50: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2034 comments Kim wrote: "Yes, but did they find the brain?
"


Bite tongue, Everyman. Bite hard. Don't say it. Just don't.


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