Love and Marriage: in The Novel David Copperfield

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      Love and Marriage. Dickens describes love and marriage but not like a psychoanalyst who goes deep into the mental complexities or like a sexually starved sensualist gloating over the seductive charms of beautiful women. All types of love that a father has for his daughter, a mother for her son, a brother for his sister and vice versa — are described by Dickens in his novels very successfully. But when it comes to the physical side of the mutual love of a man or woman, perhaps he had no inclination for it or he did not possess the necessary capacity. There are many romantic situations in his novels but the behavior of his heroines and heroes during these situations is not as if they were persons of warm blood and sensitive flesh. Sexless love has been described in detail by this typical Victorian author.

      Psychology of Love Absent. Knowledge of the psychological functions of the minds of women is conspicuous by its absence in Dickens, or at least imperfect and inadequate. Perhaps the author is too obsessed with the humorous and satirical flourishes to do justice as a sympathetic observer and faithful narrator of the tragic reality of the futile passion of a jilted lover or a neglected beloved. Dickens, who could draw with force and tenderness the tragic situations of ill-used children, fails in the portrayal of the noblest emotion, a man or a woman is capable of.

      Portrayal of Marriage. The married life and estranged relations of married people are described by Dickens no doubt, but he has not expatiated upon them to the fullest extent. Aunt Betsey has a blackmailing husband who visits her secretly only to squeeze some monetary compensation from her. David's mother contracts a foolish marriage with a ruthless man of Murdstone's caliber. David and Dora marry but their marriage is a tragic failure. His second marriage with Agnes, it is asserted, is successful but the author does not describe it in detail. Peggotty and Barkis enter into marriage without any formal courting worth naming or mention, but both of them are practical-minded and their marriage apparently is successful. However, the author has not described but only stated it. Impulsive marriages like that of Dora and David, Clara and Murdstone become failures while prudent marriages like that of Agnes and David, Traddles and Sophy etc, become successful. This is what Dickens perhaps wanted to bring home to his readers. Impulsive marriages are the sources of troublesome domestic life. Infinite happiness is in store for those who select their partners in life carefully and prudently.

      Portrayal of Female Characters. The Victorian era is noted for its highly orthodox nature. Women then had not attained political and social emancipation. Hence we have a very realistic portrayal of the scores of unintelligent, ill-tempered and quarrelsome women that could be seen in plenty in nineteenth-century London. If they speak unpolished slang it is not Dickens's mistake. He has faithfully reproduced the language he evidently used to often hear. Unless Dickens had the ability to reproduce what he saw in the society with admirable fidelity we would not have had these marvelous pen portraits.

      Women of lower middle class, the working class etc, are portrayed by Dickens true to life. Their ill-educated, ill-tempered and uncouth atmosphere has been held before us as though reflected in a mirror. Mrs. Gummidge in David Copperfield is a perfect antithesis to Peggotty. Whereas the former causes untold suffering to her benefactors, Peggotty is a source of inspiration and a model of sincerity on the domestic front. Mrs. Joe Gargery, Mrs. Nickleby etc, are examples of the uneducated shrewdish and irresponsible types of women characters.

      Eccentric women like Bestey Trotwood live for ever in our mind's eye. Their picture remains indelible. Her hatred for donkeys is an obsession often noticed in old maids. In spite of being disappointed in her married life, aunt Betsey never exhibits sour in temper and bitterness. She is a woman of good sense and helping nature. Little Emily is a typical country lass carried away by the lure of a romantic lover. Dora is a simple innocent girl who is ignorant of all the dark sides of life.

      Conclusion. Dickens writes of love and marriage and allied topics in his works but he miserably fails in the detailed explanation of sexual love and the romanticism attached to it. It is totally beyond his range. He describes female characters, no doubt, only as a casual observers. And because his portrayal of women lacks subtlety, his portrayal of love and marriage too lacks reality.

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