Agnes And Dora; A Study In Character
Charles Dickens', David Copperfield recorded the journey of a human being from before birth to a happily prosperous marriage. In the way he suffered tortures from his stepfather and one of his closer friends. He obtained comfort, however from his aunt, his nurse and her family, and the Micawbers. David had two marriages. One to the beautiful yet immature Dora Spenlow, and to Agnes Wickfield, his perennial confidante. These two women both contributed to fulfilling Davids' different needs.
Many people would say that Dora was a very sensitive, fragile, child-wife. She was unable to keep up a house-even with the help of her husband-because she just did not understand how to do simple chores. When David came home one day, Dora came up to him and asked to be taught what she had to know o be able to do housekeeping. David sat down and started explaining everything to her, but after a few minutes she broke down crying, because she could not comprehend. The attraction that David had for Dora was to her beauty, which misled him into thinking that she would be a good spouse for him. Although, Dora seemed like a girl who did not have much insight, towards the end of her life she realized that her marriage to David was a mistake, and her immaturity would eventually make David lose his love for her.
I was very happy, very. But, as years went on,
my dear boy would have wearied of his child-
wife. She would have been less and less a
companion for him. He would have been more
and more sensible of what was wanting in his
home. She wouldn't have improved. (p, 711)
On the other hand, we have Agnes. She was a very intelligent woman, who had also been very close with David. We see in the book David considered her a sister because at a point in his life he lived in her house and came to like her very much. "The spirit of Agnes so pervaded all we thought, and said, and did, in that time of sorrow, that I assume I may refer the project to her influence." (P, 713) Agnes was a very special woman, who had a loving feeling toward David, but she tried to hide it. While David was married to Dora, Agnes still behaved like a very close friend to both of them. After Dora died, David finally went to ask Agnes to marry him. Agnes broke down and told David how much she had always loved him. "I have loved you all my life" (p, 801)
Dickens creates two wives to fulfill David's needs. Dora fulfilled David's desire to have a wife who was beautiful and would act like his mother had acted. David's mother was very immature and was unable to do housekeeping. Agnes fulfilled his desire to have a wife that would keep a house, and be his confidante. He no longer had to bring home instruction books on housekeeping as he had done with Dora.
According to G. K. Chesterton, by giving David these two totally opposite wives, Dickens was trying to show us that it is not possible to have one wife who can be all. Therefore, Dora filled one aspect of David's needs and Agnes filled the other. I disagree with this; I feel that every person is different. Every person has different needs. When David married Dora that was what he needed then: somebody to remind him of his mother. Then, when Dora died, he married Agnes because he needed somebody who would comfort him, not somebody who could not do anything on her own.
Chesterton goes on to say that he feels that Davids marriage to Dora was a real marriage; and that his marriage to Agnes was a nothing. I disagree with this analogy, because I feel that the only reason David married Dora was because of her beauty. This is not a good basis for marriage. This kind of marriage does not last very long. On the other hand, Davids marriage with Agnes was a good marriage that I feel could last forever.
With Dora, David was reliving his past with his mother. Even though he loved Dora dearly, he was under constant psychological stress. Dora was totally inept as a helpmate. Davids mother was also totally inept and that is why he was sent away, his mother was unable o control her own son in her own house. Part of David and his tempestuous past died with Dora. Davids marriage to Agnes starts his rebirth, she helps David remember his past painlessly. This allows David to go on into a new horizon.