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Dickens’s David Copperfield – Part III

This last part of Dr. White’s conference on David Copperfield opens with a discussion of an episode at David’s school which emphasizes the importance of boys’ early friendships and how David chooses a bad model in Steerforth, who defies his teacher and leads the boys in rebellion. The other possible friend for David, Traddles, is presented by Dr. White as an important character by reason of his normality and decency. Dickens’ talent for foreshadowing is again touched upon, then Dr. White explains the duality running through the novel: David very often much choose between two people, and he always seems to choose the wrong one. Dr. White presents Uriah Heep as David’s “dark side,” and shows the influence of Scripture on Dickens. He treats of the meaning of marriage as illustrated by David’s rather foolish first marriage, and presents a central theme of the novel springing from this and other situations throughout the book: that one’s emotions must be educated and disciplined if one is to be happy. The lecture ends appropriately with a discussion of the ending of the book.

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