“Ride over all obstacles, and win the race!”

Steerforth, having just returned from Yarmouth in Chapter 28, makes this remark as he relays to David the news of Mr. Barkis’s illness. Steerforth has just taken the crucial step toward the seduction of Little Em’ly, although David is unaware of it. In his remark, Steerforth is more likely encouraging himself than trying to console David about Mr. Barkis’s impending death. The devil-may-care attitude Steerforth expresses in this statement is typical of him: he believes that as long as he himself is happy, nothing else matters. Steerforth is willing to sacrifice his friendship with David and the happiness of the Peggottys, including that of Little Em’ly, simply to obtain the momentary pleasure of having Little Em’ly for his own. This overarching and unjustified pride renders Steerforth repugnant once his true attitude becomes plain.