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Thread: Dora Copperfield

  1. #1
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Dora Copperfield

    Don't tell me what happens to her, because I have not got to that bit yet. I have heard, but I don't want to know the details.

    I was reading about her and David just after their wedding. I had worked out their marriage would be unsatisfactory; I was just surprised how. She is really well brought to life. It was heart breaking to read her tell David that he is such a clever man and to regard her as a wife-child. It shows how much she worried about her insufficiencies and how they had lowered her self-esteem. Being married to someone as clever and energetic as Charles Dickens himself might do that to many women I expect. She might not be the sharpest tool in the box, but she had no mother to teach her house-keeping, and her father was negligent. He did not leave a will or actually very much money, and her education appears to have been all music and painting. Her father loved her as a charming child, but did not prepare her for adult life very well. When she struggled to do her housekeeping accounts and could not get them right, or concentrate on David's explanation, I did think think that she could master them if she continued working at it. David Copperfield mastered shorthand, even though that took him a lot of practice. Ordering servants to do what they're paid for, or giving them their notice if they don't, is something very difficult to do. She would have to learn how to do that too, though maybe David could do the actual firing.

    Something that occurred to me is that Dora is actually like David Copperfield's mother. She was rather pretty, little-girlish, and easily dominated. Was this deliberate on Dickens' part. It seems a bit Freudian.

    It is a really good plotline.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Yes, I always feel terrible about Dora, sometimes I think Dickens' most interesting characters are the ones that he doesn't care enough about. Personally, I always thought that the relationship between David and Dora was autobiographical, since Dickens himself left his wife, and I feel that the story with Dora was a way of 'justifying' his behaviour to himself by saying that they were an ill-suited couple and married too young/decided too fast. There's a bit where David calls Dora 'the first mistaken impulse of an undisciplined heart', which is an admirable sentiment as in 'we shouldn't have rushed into a relationship we weren't ready for', but at the same time, David's heart being 'disciplined' comes at the expense of Dora. It would be very reasonable to assume that Dora could learn to change, but unfortunately, Dickens' novels tend to accommodate the change of only one character (the young male protagonist) and it's just not going to happen in Dickens' world.

    I think the likeness to David's mother was deliberate, Dickens seems to be concentrated on showing how this helplessness and passivity is both highly attractive and highly destructive to relationships and people.

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    It's said all men marry their mother and that is the case here certainly. After so many sentiental young women, it is a relief that in Dora Dickens could laugh at one - without malie

    I won't comment further until kev has read on except to say that eventually Dora does reveal a depth and self knowledge, within her limitations.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I think marriage was the only option for Dora, except for the dreaded governess or lady's companion options, which do not bear thinking about. Three or four per cent interest on the 1000 her father left her would only be 30 or 40 a year. There were plenty of people who lived on less, but certainly it would be a lot less genteel. Being so adorable, some gentleman would want her. Then he would have to cope with her shortcomings; like her, his. She would have to grow up one way or another. At some point, I suppose David Copperfield would think he had better insure his life. I wonder if at that point, when he tries to work out how much he can afford, he realises he has married a copy of his mother.

    I have to say I don't like the Dr Strong /Mrs Strong plotline so much. It would be like me marrying my best mate's teenage daughter.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I thought I would find the Little Emily plotline more moving, but I am finding it a bit melodramatic. Instead I find myself more upset about what is happening to Dora. It sounds like she has had a miscarriage, but what is it that is making her so weak? She must have picked up some infection. It's strange because she's simple, but also she's not so simple. Dickens had a lot of working class readers who led pretty tough lives. I wondered what they thought of this privileged, quite silly girl, who never had to work, and cares more about her dog than any other living thing. It must have been an exercise in sympathy.

    It's an odd sort of bildungsroman. I expect by the end of the book, David Copperfield is a wiser and sadder man, but at a very high price. He will have been the unwitting agent of several people's downfall.

    I have to identify the chapter Dora passes away, because I am not reading that on the train or coffee shop.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    It is never made clear what is damaging Dora's health. She has a miscarriage and just gets weaker and weaker. You would have thought they would call a doctor, but DC does not mention one. If a doctor had been called, either he would know what the sickness was or he wouldn't, but it would at least be mentioned.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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