For it was quite delightful to me, to find him so pleasant.

Category: Writing & Reading | Type: Discussion | Title: David Copperfield (in Context) | Author: Charles Dickens | Ch: I Am Sent Away from Home

Elements of Victorian society don't spare children any more than they do women. To remain sweet and trusting is difficult, for the predators see that condition only as an invitation. Central to the novel is the question of how David can exist in such a society without becoming prey. One alternative is to become cynical, hypocritical, and avaricious. The polite terms David will use for cynical are "old" and "respectable." The other alternative is to find a haven such as the Ark where goodness is not a liability. The Rookery had been that haven until it was invaded. As the novel progresses David will become ashamed of his inexperience, his "youth" amd intimidated by those who seem knowing and condescending. For Dickens, innocence should never be a cause for shame, for it is the wellspring of goodness in the adult.

The illustration by Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz) of a small David seated before his food, the convivially devouring waiter poised, captures the latter's ease and little David's timid awe.

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