by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield Family Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Me leave you? I think I see myself. Peggotty go away from you? I should like to catch her at it [...] I'll stay with you till I am a cross cranky old woman. And when I'm too deaf, and too lame, and too blind, and too mumbly for want of teeth, to be of any use at all, even to be found fault with, than I shall go to my Davy, and ask him to take me in. (8.60)
Peggotty seems to regard Mrs. Copperfield as her own. She swears never to leave her, and she keeps that promise, even though she has received a proposal of marriage and sharing the house with Jane Murdstone is agony. What do you guys think about this idea that servants can be part of the family? Can they truly belong to the family that employs them? And how do the other characters in the novel feel about Peggotty's place in the Copperfield-Murdstone household?
Because his brother was a little eccentric—though he is not half so eccentric as a good many people—he didn't like to have him visible about his house, and sent him away to some private asylum-place: though he had been left to his particular care by their deceased father, who thought him almost a natural. And a wise man he must have been to think so! Mad himself, no doubt. (14.53)
Here, Miss Betsey is describing Mr. Dick's back-story. His own brother shuts Mr. Dick up in a mental institution because he doesn't "like to have [Mr. Dick] visible about his house." In other words, Mr. Dick's brother is too ashamed of him to allow Mr. Dick to continue living with him. Does Mr. Dick's role in this novel offer explicit criticisms of the treatment of the mentally ill in Dickens's day and age? Or is the object of this critique the general importance of family loyalty?
I tell you, my good fellow, once more, that it would have been well for me (and for more than me) if I had had a steadfast and judicious father! (22.26)
Steerforth admits that he could really have used more discipline growing up – the guidance of a "steadfast and judicious father." We see several images of loving, steadfast father figures – Doctor Strong and Mr. Peggotty, for example. Where are the loving, tough, positive mother figures? The only one we can think of is Miss Betsey, and she is described at one point in the text as "masculine" (41.127). Does Dickens imply that women cannot be authoritative parent figures? Or can you think of counterexamples?