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Although David narrates his story as an adult, he relays
the impressions he had from a youthful point of view. We see how
David’s perception of the world deepens as he comes of age. We see
David’s initial innocence in the contrast between his interpretation
of events and our own understanding of them. Although David is ignorant
of Steerforth’s treachery, we are aware from the moment we meet Steerforth
that he doesn’t deserve the adulation David feels toward him. David
doesn’t understand why he hates Uriah or why he trusts a boy with
a donkey cart who steals his money and leaves him in the road, but
we can sense Uriah’s devious nature and the boy’s treacherous intentions.
In David’s first-person narration, Dickens conveys the wisdom of
the older man implicitly, through the eyes of a child.
David’s complex character allows for contradiction and
development over the course of the novel. Though David is trusting
and kind, he also has moments of cruelty, like the scene in which
he intentionally distresses Mr. Dick by explaining Miss Betsey’s
dire situation to him. David also displays great tenderness, as
in the moment when he realizes his love for Agnes for the first
time. David, especially as a young man in love, can be foolish and
romantic. As he grows up, however, he develops a more mature point
of view and searches for a lover who will challenge him and help
him grow. David fully matures as an adult when he expresses the
sentiment that he values Agnes’s calm tranquility over all else
in his life.
Ace your assignments with our guide to David Copperfield!