Wednesday, August 29, 2007

David Copperfield and the Disciplined Heart

So why was I still reading David Copperfield at 3:30 in the morning?!

I just couldn't believe he married Dora! How could he?!!! And yet, I see it happen in real life - and even more of near misses.

For the edification of those who've never read David Copperfield (being too tired to articulate it in my own words) I'll quote from the Afterword:
David's endeavor to "form Dora's mind" serves only to depress and alarm her, and it gradually dawns on him "that perhaps Dora's mind was already formed." Thenceforth he can have no other course than to form himself, and this he sets out resolutely to do "But it would have been better for me if my wife could have helped me more, and shared the many thoughts in which I had no partner; and that this might have been, I knew." In the midst of these emotional changes... David is present at that crucial scene of explanation between Dr. Strong and his wife in which she uses words that afterward reverberate like a mournful bell in his memory. "There can be no disparity in marriage," she says, "like unsuitability of mind and purpose" and she calls her childhood affection for Jack Maldon "the first mistaken impulse of my undisciplined heart." David does not cease to love his child-wife, but he knows... He has grown in sympathy and understanding. He is no longer the naive boy who could fall in love with a pretty face and a head of curls and childish charms. He knows and feels the deeper qualities of mind and heart. He has disciplined his own heart.

Of course there are many, many more threads to the story. But that's the part that riveted me to the book well past my bedtime.


Sarah Mae said...

yes, I was very annoyed at David's marrying Dora after reading the book several years ago. (esp. when there were other sensible possibilites he could have chosen)

Joy's in the middle of reading the book now.

Laurie Elliot said...

How come he couldn't notice Agnes was a possibilty a little sooner?!

And I wish the young men I know would notice the "Agnes" in their life!