Compare Dora & Agnes in David Copperfield

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      Agnes and Dora are parallel characters in the novel. David Copperfield, the hero marries Dora first. When she dies, after three years he marries Agnes. Thus they are dearly placed on either side of the hero's heart. A comparison and contrast of, the two characters Agnes and Dora is thus a study in natural affections.

      David meets Agnes first, for his aunt Miss Betsey has Agnes's father Wickfield as her lawyer. She consults the lawyer about David's education. As for Dora, David knows her only after he settles down for legal training in the office of Messrs Spenlow and Jorkins. Dora is the only daughter of Spenlow.

      Both Dora and Agnes are thus the daughters of lawyers. While Agnes is the daughter of an unsuccessful lawyer, a failure in life due to his weak habits. Dora is the daughter of a shrewd lawyer who goes on bluffing till the end he gets wealth. Naturally, Dora's father being a dominating personality she is brought up luxuriously. She has no opportunities for facing the battle of life. She is brought up like a luxurious garden flower. On the other hand, Wickfield's temperamental defects like drink and hope and professional indifference forces Agnes into a little protecting angel for her unsteady father. Her father lost his wife when Agnes was a baby. So he also puts the burden of domestic responsibilities on Agnes while yet a girl of a dozen years.

      The domestic positions of Agnes and Dora thus form the characters of the two girls. Agnes cultivates a strong business-like character of self-control, shrewdness, forethought and an eye for detail. On the other hand, Dora is a sort of spoiled daughter. She has her education at Paris, picks up the fashionable French language and joyful fashions. She must have a maid or a confidential friend attending on her. She does not look after even her own wants. Everything is provided for her as if she is a little princess. But the case is different with Agnes. She has to take care of her father and almost protect him. She is neck-deep in domestic responsibilities. She has control of her feelings. She always appears calm and cheerful. But Dora who has no burden on her mind can afford to laugh gaily, pet her dog and play at love. To her love is a joy of life. Dora is dramatic where Agnes is calm, Dora is funny where Agnes is serious; but to Agnes love is deeper.

      Both Agnes and Dora are beautiful girls. They are the beloved ones of the hero David and the pets of their fathers. In figure, both are pleasing and good-looking girls. Agnes is the type of placid beauty calm, mild and thoughtful, inspiring a lover with hope and confidence. Dora is lovely like a rose. She has curly hair and has rolling laughter. She is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. No wonder that David falls in love with her at first sight. But it is different with Agnes. David's love for Agnes grows by stages. At first, he loves her as a little sister and then he loves her as a trusted friend. Thus his love takes root in the depths of his soul, till at last it grows into a beautiful large tree. His love for Dora may be compared to a lofty oak tree.

      David loves his wife Dora very heartily. But when they settle down in their home, the couple face domestic problems. Dora does not know how to cook or get work done by the maid. Food is offered late and of poor quality. David has to go to his office without it. But fortunately for him, all such annoyances are drowned by her smiles, laughs or kisses.

      Thus David's life with Dora is a happy dream, too brief and too delightful, his life with Agnes is lasting. It has been Dora's dying request that Agnes and David must marry. The two are ripe for it. Agnes confesses it later on that she has always loved David. Dora's wish confirms the feeling of her own heart. Thus they marry. And now David leads a calm life, for Agnes is his little angel.

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