First Person Narration: in The Novel David Copperfield

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      There are many ways of narrating a story. In one of the methods, the narrator is omniscient. He is all-knowing like God. This is the most common practice amongst novelists. Another mode of writing a novel is that of memoir where the character narrates his own story. A third way of writing novels is the epistolary method where the characters correspond by letters between themselves. The story of David Copperfield has been narrated in the first person. David, who is the central figure of the plot is the narrator and, recounts his past experiences.

      The first person narrative in David Copperfield gives a truly personal character to the story. This method gives scope to the author to record minute details which have affected his hero. In David Copperfield Dickens has described the minute details of David's life. The unpleasant and bitter experiences of a child and the amorous experiences of youth have been gracefully presented in the novel.

      The first person narrative has an advantage, that it enlists our sympathy for the narrator. We may not like him initially but ultimately we like him since he concentrates our attention on himself. It is thus that David manages to strike a rapport with the readers. This subjective method has another advantage as well. It compels the novelist to stick to his point because he can tell us only what the narrator character has himself seen, heard or done. This method has made David Copperfield, a well-constructed novel, even though it was written and published in a serial form.

      A disadvantage of the subjective method is that the narrator; when he is also the hero, cannot, without seeming to be vain-glorious, present himself in a very favorable light. The narrator is liable to be forced into a false position. Then again the novelist has all along two characters to support. He has to keep in mind while writing how his hero felt at the time of the events related and how he feels at the time of its narration. We can see that David appears pallid in comparison with Mr. Micawber, when the story moves toward the time of his life when he is supposed to writing it. Thus we can conclude by saying that Dickens has made good use of the first person narrative in David Copperfield but has failed to avoid some of its defects.

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