Study Guide

David Copperfield Chapter 45

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 45

Mr. Dick Fulfills My Aunt's Predictions

  • Since David is now living so close to Doctor Strong, he sees the Doctor all the time.
  • Mrs. Markleham has come to live in Doctor Strong's house permanently.
  • She is a selfish woman who constantly needs to be amused. She often claims to want to go out for Annie's sake, when really, she just wants excursions and pleasant times.
  • One day, Mrs. Markleham tells Doctor Strong that Annie must be bored being shut up in his house.
  • After all, as an older man, he doesn't have the same interests that Annie has.
  • Take his dictionary, for example, Mrs. Markleham continues. Dictionaries are useful, but they're not designed to interest young people like Annie.
  • Mrs. Markleham compliments Doctor Strong's good sense in letting Annie go out often: clearly, he understands that Annie is bored with him.
  • Because Annie is so bored, Mrs. Markleham offers her own services: she would be happy to go with Annie to the opera, to concerts, to museums – whatever is necessary.
  • And indeed, she does go out, all the time – even if Annie says she's tired and doesn't want to go.
  • Occasionally, Jack Maldon goes along, but this is rare; sometimes, Dora and/or Miss Betsey accompany Mrs. Markleham and Annie.
  • David has decided that Doctor Strong is right, and that he shouldn't mistrust Annie.
  • Miss Betsey thinks that Mrs. Markleham is interfering in Doctor Strong and Annie's happiness.
  • But Miss Betsey also thinks Mr. Dick has an idea to make things better, so she waits patiently for him to act.
  • David isn't so sure that this is going to happen, but one night, Mr. Dick drops by and asks if David has time to chat.
  • Mr. Dick asks what David considers Mr. Dick to be?
  • David says that he is a dear friend.
  • But, Mr. Dick adds, perhaps a little bit mentally challenged? Perhaps he is "simple" (45.37)?
  • David tries to soft-peddle this a little bit, but he does eventually agree that Mr. Dick is somewhat challenged.
  • Mr. Dick continues: Doctor Strong is a great man and a fine scholar, and Annie is a lovely, shining girl.
  • Mr. Dick asks David why it appears as though clouds have come between them?
  • David tells Mr. Dick that there is a secret separating them. Doctor Strong is devoted to Annie, but there is still some problem.
  • The reason that neither David nor Miss Betsey have gotten involved is because it is too delicate a subject for outsiders.
  • Mr. Dick hears this and is delighted: sure, maybe David and Miss Betsey can't get involved, but he, Mr. Dick, can. Because Mr. Dick knows that he is mentally challenged, he also knows that no one will object if he says something that might seem out of place.
  • Just then, Miss Betsey and Dora come in.
  • Mr. Dick swears David to secrecy and promises that he will solve everything.
  • One evening after about two or three weeks, David and Miss Betsey walk over to Doctor Strong's house.
  • It is twilight, and Annie is coming in from the garden. Mr. Dick is still in the garden, and the Doctor is in his study.
  • Mrs. Markleham bustles in and scolds Annie for not telling her that Doctor Strong is seeing guests in his study.
  • Apparently, Mrs. Markleham surprised Doctor Strong in the act of drawing up his will.
  • She then tells everyone in the room that Doctor Strong plans to leave everything to Annie, because he has total confidence in her.
  • Annie immediately gets up and goes outside.
  • Mrs. Markleham keeps on talking about how lovely it is, given Doctor Strong's age, that he is thinking ahead about such matters.
  • Mrs. Markleham invites David and Miss Betsey to come in and see Doctor Strong; they arrive just as Mr. Dick is supporting Annie into the room on one arm. Doctor Strong is sitting at his desk and doesn't notice them.
  • Mr. Dick escorts Annie to Doctor Strong and then lays his hand on Doctor Strong's arm.
  • Annie drops to her knees in front of her seated husband.
  • Mrs. Markleham scolds Annie, and tells her to get up immediately – why should she humble herself so much?
  • Annie tells her mother to be quiet: her words are for her husband.
  • Doctor Strong tells Annie that if anything has gone wrong with their marriage, it is all his fault. Annie should stand up immediately.
  • Annie asks if there is anyone in the room who can speak out about the suspicions that seem to hover around Annie and Doctor Strong.
  • At last, David speaks softly of some of the doubts voiced by Uriah Heep that fatal evening.
  • Annie stays silent and then takes her husband's hands.
  • Annie promises to tell him everything that has been in her heart since their marriage.
  • Mrs. Markleham tries to interrupt, but Annie is determined to lay it all before Doctor Strong.
  • Annie explains that her first memories of learning were from a patient friend and teacher – Doctor Strong – who molded her young mind, and whose approval she was proud of.
  • She looked up to him as a father, and so when she heard that he wanted to propose marriage to her, she hesitated.
  • Annie felt sorry, at first, that Doctor Strong's relationship with her had changed this way.
  • But after a time, Annie felt honored by Doctor Strong's affection, and so she married him.
  • Annie never thought for a moment of the wealth that marrying Doctor Strong would mean; indeed, the first idea that some people might be suspicious of her motives in marrying Doctor Strong came from Mrs. Markleham herself.
  • More and more, Annie has worried over their difference in wealth.
  • Even though Annie is sure that Mrs. Markleham never meant anything by it, by constantly asking Doctor Strong to help various members of her family, Annie has become more and more aware of the suspicions of Mr. Wickfield.
  • Mrs. Markleham starts to weep, offended at the implication that it's wrong for her to care for her family.
  • Annie continues: she knows that Mrs. Markleham has been very caring with Jack Maldon.
  • She also admits that, when they were young, she might have persuaded herself that she loved Jack Maldon – which would have been disastrous, because they aren't a bit alike.
  • Annie says something that really hits David, though he can't say why: marriage between two people with very different characters causes the worst problems.
  • She explains that she and Jack Maldon have literally nothing in common.
  • But it's not until the night before Jack Maldon left for India that Annie realized his false heart and Mr. Wickfield's suspicions of her.
  • Doctor Strong protests that he had no such suspicions.
  • Annie agrees, but she still felt guilty and ashamed that someone who Doctor Strong had helped so much – Jack Maldon – had tried to seduce her under the Doctor's own roof. She was so ashamed that she couldn't tell Doctor Strong.
  • Mrs. Markleham groans and drops back into her easy chair.
  • Annie confesses to Doctor Strong that sometimes she wishes she had just stayed his student, because then she might have learned enough to be worthy of him.
  • She has seen that Doctor Strong has been growing unhappy, and she's worried that he might have begun to doubt her.
  • So, Annie must tell Doctor Strong that she has never stopped loving him, nor has she ever been unfaithful to him.
  • Annie begs Doctor Strong not to think that there is any difference between them, except maybe for Annie's own faults.
  • After this declaration, there is silence.
  • Miss Betsey walks up to Mr. Dick and hugs and kisses him.
  • Miss Betsey tells Mr. Dick that he is a remarkable man.
  • With that, Miss Betsey, Mr. Dick, and David leave the room.
  • Miss Betsey is glad that Mrs. Markleham has at last gotten her comeuppance.
  • David is still thinking over that odd phrase Annie used, that "there can be no disparity in marriage like unsuitability of mind and purpose" (45.143).

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