If anyone had told me, then, that all this was a brilliant game, played for the excitement of the moment . . . in the thoughtless love of superiority, in a mere wasteful careless course of winning what was worthless to him, and next minute thrown away . . . I wonder in what manner of receiving it my indignation would have found a vent!

As narrator, David uses this remark from Chapter 21 to comment on Steerforth’s ability to seduce the Peggottys upon meeting them for the first time. The sentiment reflects three crucial elements of the novel. First, it shows how artless and naïve David is in his attitude toward Steerforth until Steerforth’s ultimate crime is revealed. This absolute trust on David’s part comes across in all his interactions with Steerforth, including this one, as David is charmed by Steerforth’s ability to make friends with the Peggottys. Second, the quotation exemplifies the foreshadowing Dickens uses throughout the novel. The comments the adult David makes about Steerforth just playing a game alert us to the fact that Steerforth is up to something. This foreshadowing ratchets up the suspense about Steerforth’s intentions and makes us wonder how these intentions will affect the other characters. Third, David, as an adult narrator, reveals in this quotation more than young David himself knows at the time—a disparity that creates dramatic irony by giving us more knowledge than the characters themselves have. The adult perspective of the narrative voice also highlights how much David matures before the end of the novel, for it demonstrates that he recognizes the errors of his youthful perceptions and conclusions. Although the adult David, as narrator, rarely disparages his younger self, he reveals the flaws in his ways of thinking through asides such as this one.