Saturday, August 05, 2006
Endeavoring to do a Proper Review
It has been several days since I finished David Copperfield, so I have had a bit of time to mull it over, consider my overall opinion, and formulate a review. I do not think it would be worth my time to rewrite what everyone else already has written on the topic, but I will try to make a proper review of it (though it will mostly just be opinion).
I will say from the start, that I liked the book. It was certainly not my favorite Dickens (keeping with what I said in an earlier post); Nicholas Nickleby was. It did, however deliver strongly in the character department. Good characters nearly equal good books to me. Anyone who has read any Dickens, or even seen "A Christmas Carol" knows that characterization is Dicken's strong suit. My favorite character was Agnes, the good, calm, patient, loving, "good angel" in David Copperfield's life, the girl who he loved as his sister all the way through the book until the very end, when he realizes his love for her. I highly value books in which there are characters that are perfect, or apparently so, because I believe that we all have a craving inside of us for goodness and perfection -- due to the craving we have for the goodness and perfection of Christ.
I always find a character that I relate with, or see myself as, and it certainly was not Agnes. I felt more like David's eccentric, spinster Aunt Betsey Trotwood, who comes on the scene with a splash. I thought she was going to somehow be the villain, but she actually is David's savior when he is orphaned and his stepfather sends him away to work. Aunt Betsey takes David in (after he has run away to find this aunt he has never met), stands up to his evil Stepfather, and his sister and henceforth devotes herself to his welfare, education and "mothering". (Even though she is not very motherly). She names him Trotwood after herself, and calls him that the rest of her life. She is very strong and outspoken, the strongest good female character I have read of Dickens. She readily advises men as to what to do with themselves, and on the whole everyone respects her and heeds her council. Her husband had left her very early in life, and married another woman, but still has some bit of power over her, because she supports him financially throughout the book. This is something she keeps secret from David until after her husband has died. It is interesting to see that such an independent woman has defects of "an undisciplined heart".
David is an endearing main character. The story is told in first person, so the reader is all too familiar with David's shortcomings and foolishness. Several anecdotes made me laugh out loud -- such as the scene where 17-year-old David is daydreaming about 30-year-old Miss Black, wishing her house could catch on fire just so he can rescue her, and go back in for something she forgot and then die while she is watching. Ha ha! Because you know David's faults (the undisciplined heart chief among them), you can appreciate it so much more as he matures and becomes a wise patron to everyone around him. He is famous and wealthy, but so generous and loving!
David Copperfield was a little darker than Nicholas Nickleby, and lacked a strong underdog character to pour your sympathies upon. I cannot imagine loving a character as I loved Smike in NN, so that may be just as well. Nonetheless, I enjoyed DC as an engaging, not to say, compelling read. In short -- (as Mr. Micawber would say), if you can bear up under several technical and dull passages, endure through a bit of wandering plot and avoid paper cuts from the 806-plus pages, you may find this book quite delightful!