I wish to God I had had a judicious father these last twenty years!'

Category: Education | Type: Discussion | Title: David Copperfield (in Context) | Author: Charles Dickens | Ch: Some Old Scenes, and Some New People

The absence of a "judicious father" as an explanation is weak, for David lacks a father, suffered from Murdstone, experienced his mother's death, and suffered miserably.  

Moments later Steerforth refines his analysis. He wishes that he had been "better guided," which might implicate his mother, yet that still shifts responsibility to someone else. Steerforth had to do as David did: erect an appropriate image. Had Steerforth not been so class-conscious, Mr. Mell might have sufficed. Or even David, who, however, has chosen Steerforth as "theguidingstarofmy existence."

Absent a living image, Steerforth could have turned to the Bible and his namesake James, the disciple chosen by Jesus to be one of three to witness His transfiguration when, upon the mountain, He radiates light. To Steerforth's credit he finally voices the reality: "I wish with all my soul I could guide myself better." Nowhere does his surname appear more ironic than in that observation.

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