by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield Guilt and Blame Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Tan't that I forgive her. 'Tan't that so much. 'Tis more as I beg of her to forgive me, for having pressed my affections upon her. Odd times, I think that if I hadn't had her promise fur to marry me, sir, she was that trustful of me, in a friendly way, that she'd have told me what was struggling in her mind, and would have counselled with me, and I might have saved her. (52.106)
When Ham Peggotty hears that little Emily has returned to Mr. Peggotty, he seeks out David in Yarmouth. He wants David to carry word to Emily that Ham is all right, and that she hasn't done him any lasting harm (which is not true, but Ham wants to comfort Emily). Ham is such a good man that he has no thought of revenge. He totally blames himself for what happened between him and Emily. What do you think is the primary cause of Emily's running off? Does Ham bear any blame for her departure?
"In the meantime, sir," said Mr. Chillip, "[Mr. and Miss Murdstone] are much disliked; and as they are very free in consigning everybody who dislikes them to perdition, we really have a good deal of perdition going on in our neighbourhood! However, as Mrs. Chillip says, sir, they undergo a continual punishment; for they are turned inward, to feed upon their own hearts, and their own hearts are very bad feeding." (59.139)
David runs into his old doctor, Mr. Chillip, by accident at Gray's Inn in London once he returns from Europe. Mr. Chillip has news of the Murdstones. Mr. Murdstone has remarried and he and his sister have bullied his poor wife into completely obedient idiocy. But Mr. Chillip also reports that the Murdstones are not popular. They respond to this unpopularity by damning everyone who doesn't like them. Still, the Murdstones have isolated themselves, and have nothing to do but think about their own hearts. While the Murdstones have not been punished by any kind of law for their abuses, their social isolation has brought about a kind of prison. They are trapped with each other and their own bad natures, which Mr. Chillip seems to think is punishment enough. What do you think – is this enough justice for the Murdstones? How might you have ended their narrative thread?
My love for my dear child was a diseased love, but my mind was all unhealthy then. I say no more of that. (60.77)
After clearing away Uriah Heep, Mr. Wickfield's mind improves. He can recognize that the cause of all of his weakness has been his obsessive love for his daughter. And this love, in turn, arises from his grief over the death of her mother. Mr. Wickfield clearly feels a strong sense of guilt that his behavior has caused those he loves so much pain. Do we see any signs that Mr. Wickfield is trying to make amends? What do we make of this "diseased love" of Mr. Wickfield's? Is there any way we can connect his "all unhealthy" mind to his intense suspicion of other people's motives at the beginning of the novel?