by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield Gender Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
There was dust, I believe. There was a good deal of dust, I believe. I have a faint impression that Mr. Spenlow remonstrated with me for riding in it; but I knew of none. I was sensible of a mist of love and beauty about Dora, but of nothing else. He stood up sometimes, and asked me what I thought of the prospect. I said it was delightful, and I dare say it was; but it was all Dora to me. The sun shone Dora, and the birds sang Dora. The south wind blew Dora, and the wild flowers in the hedges were all Dora's, to a bud. My comfort is, Miss Mills understood me. Miss Mills alone could enter into my feelings thoroughly. (33.62)
David falls in love with Dora pretty much at first sight. When the three of them drive to some green space to have a birthday picnic for Dora with a bunch of friends, David is totally consumed by the sight of her. We're not too surprised that David's main attention is on Dora's appearance, which he keeps comparing to various lovely aspects of the natural world. If he talked to Dora a little more before they got married, and listened a bit more to the warning signs that they weren't made for each other, they both could have avoided a lot of heartbreak.
I thought I had killed her, this time. I sprinkled water on her face. I went down on my knees. I plucked at my hair. I denounced myself as a remorseless brute and a ruthless beast. I implored her forgiveness. I besought her to look up. I ravaged Miss Mills's work-box for a smelling-bottle, and in my agony of mind applied an ivory needle-case instead, and dropped all the needles over Dora. (37.47-8)
What's freaking out Dora here is that David has asked her to read a cookbook and study some accounts now and then, so that they can keep house without necessarily relying on servants. Dora flips out and David totally blames himself for just springing all of this on her. But seriously, this is a truly unflattering image of womanhood as being connected to weakness, childishness, and so on. Does Dora's characterization represent a more general assessment of the quality of women throughout the novel? Does Agnes Wickfield seem like a better or fairer model of womanhood to you? Are there problems with Agnes's depiction as well?
If I say I've an ambition to make your Agnes my Agnes, I have as good a right to it as another man. I have a better right to it than any other man!' (39.143)
Uriah Heep jumps the gun on his plans a little bit by announcing to Mr. Wickfield that he wants, some time in the distant future, to marry Agnes. Mr. Wickfield groans and yells and confesses his sense of guilt about hiring Uriah Heep, and Uriah Heep subsides for a little while. But he also warns Mr. Wickfield that he has "as good a right" to Agnes as another man – "better" even! Why might Uriah Heep imagine that he has a "better" right than another man to Agnes?