David Copperfield By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Chapters 43-44

Summary

David reminisces about his life and remembers how his love for Dora continued to grow. He is now twenty-one and has "tamed that savage stenographic mystery [shorthand]" and reports the debates in Parliament for "a morning newspaper." He is also writing for magazines with some success and says, "Altogether, I am well off." His greatest happiness, however, is due to his coming marriage.

Miss Lavinia and Miss Clarissa, Dora's aunts, have given their consent to the marriage and are now in a state of frenzy trying to make the bride's wardrobe. Aunt Betsey helps by hunting for furniture in the London stores while Peggotty cleans and re-cleans the cottage where David and his new wife will live. Tommy Traddles attends the wedding. Sophy, Traddles' fiancée, and Agnes Wickfield are bridesmaids. After David reaches the church door, "The rest is all a more or less incoherent dream." However, after the wedding breakfast, David and Dora drive away together, and he awakens from the dream to realize, "It is my dear, dear, little wife beside me, whom I love so well!"

The glamour of the wedding wears off almost at once. Their servant, Mary Anne Paragon, is a poor cook. David tells Dora to talk to her about the preparation of meals, but Dora's only recourse is to cry. David asks his aunt to explain housekeeping to his wife, but she refuses and tells David that he must have patience with "Little Blossom" and to "estimate her . . . by the qualities she has, and not by the qualities she may not have." She goes on to say, "This is marriage, Trot; and Heaven bless you both in it, for a pair of babes in the wood as you are!"

A line of incompetent servants comes and goes at the cottage. When David and Dora go shopping, the merchants cheat them. One night Traddles comes to dinner, but the house is so cluttered that David wonders if there is enough room for Traddles to use his knife and fork. Jip walks on the table, "putting his foot in the salt or the melted butter." The mutton is barely cooked, and the oysters that Dora bought cannot be opened. When Traddles leaves, Dora says she is sorry, but David confesses, "I am as bad as you, love." Later, David is "assisted" in his writing by his "child-wife," who sits beside him and holds the pens while he writes.

Analysis

The first part of Chapter 43 draws upon Dickens' own beginnings as a writer. He became a parliamentary reporter for the London Morning Chronicle, and during this time his first articles about London life were published in magazines. Shortly after this, in 1836, he married Catherine Hogarth, although he apparently cared more for Mary Hogarth, his wife's sister. This relationship is somewhat paralleled in David Copperfield by that between David and Agnes, whom David loves here as a sister.

Dickens' description of the wedding no doubt pleased Victorian audiences, but his method of presenting it as a mere backward glance severely underplays the action so that the description seems quaint and artificial, like a faded photograph.

Chapter 44 continues with this same sort of autobiographical paralleling. Although the circumstances of David's courtship are based largely on Dickens' involvement with Maria Beadnell, the incompetence of Dora reflects Dickens' attitude toward his own wife, Catherine Hogarth. It is interesting also to note the similarity in the names of Maria Beadnell and Martha Endell, which may indicate another subconscious reference by the author.

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Barkis, the cart driver, asks David to tell Peggotty: Barkis is willin'. This means Barkis is




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