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Posted on September 3rd, 2012, by

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens and Daniel Deronda by George Eliot are remarkable works of the Victorian epoch. These novels convey the story of David Copperfield and Daniel Deronda and their life in the Victorian society, which, by the way, proves far from perfect.

Both novels always attracted readers because they raise themes which have always been important and still are very significant even in the modern society, which is absolutely different from the English society of the Victorian epoch. One of the central themes of both books is the theme of orphanage and the live orphans in the society.

At first glance, both novels reveal the panorama of the Victorian society, where people live in accordance to traditional moral norms and principles that ruled the English society in that time. In such a context, the family was definitely the major unit of the society, which though proved to be not as good as many authors of that time used to describe it. Both Dickens and Eliot reveal the fact that families are not always perfect and each family may have its problems. In such a situation, both authors reveal the fact that orphans turn out to be the most defenseless in face of hardships which they can encounter in the course of their life because they are deprived of the support of parents and family. On the other hand, the authors show that family does not necessarily mean support and orphans proves to be stronger and more prepared to the real life compared to other people, who are raised in their families.

In fact, the main characters of both novels, David Copperfield and Daniel Deronda are orphans. Even though David Copperfield knew his mother, who died when he was seven years old, he still did not his father, who died when he was born, he was practically an orphan because since the early childhood he had been on his own, being deprived of the parental support. Nevertheless, he grew up a good person: Yes. He is quite a good fellow nobody’s enemy but his own. (Dickens, 85). This means that being orphan does not necessarily mean being a bad person. At the same time, stresses that orphans like David Copperfield were left on their own and they hardly knew the real love.

Nevertheless, David Copperfield still believes in love: I hope that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world (Dickens, 141). However, he did not know what the parental love is but this does not make him evil person. In stark contrast, he is able to love and he believes in love.

On the other hand, the author stresses that accidents will occur in the best-regulated families (Dickens, 154). This means that orphans are probably the most vulnerable to problems and hardships, but they are just like other people who also may suffer from various problems and who may face hardships in their life.

At the same time, Dickens still lays emphasis on the fact that orphans are different from other people. He argues that they are stronger because they can count only on themselves:

My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest. (Dickens, 192).

On the other hand, orphans are idealistic as David Copperfield is in his views on love and on people whom he loves:

She was more than human to me. She was a Fairy, a Sylph, I don’t know what she was – anything that no one ever saw, and everything that everybody ever wanted. I was swallowed up in an abyss of love in an instant. There was no pausing on the brink; no looking down, or looking back; I was gone, headlong, before I had sense to say a word to her. (Dickens, 215).

In such a way, the author reveals that orphans, being deprived of the parental support, are still looking for love and they capable to love, but their view on such concepts as love may different from conventional views of people who grew up in their families. In fact, the author contrasts the orphan to the rest of the society, he contrasts orphan’s naivety in certain issues, such as love, to pragmatism of the Victorian society, where material values start to dominate over spiritual ones.

On the other hand, in some issues orphans like David Copperfield are as pragmatic, if not to say more pragmatic, than other people: Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show (Dickens, 247). Obviously, David Copperfield is ready to be a hero of his own life but he will not be disappointed if he fails. He is apparently a bold person and it is probably because he is an orphan he can face hardships boldly, but, in the bottom of his heart, he is a sensitive person: We must meet reverses boldly, and not suffer them to frighten us, my dear. We must learn to act the play out. We must live misfortune down, Trot! (Dickens, 318).

In this respect, David Copperfield is similar to Daniel Deronda, who also an orphan and the author also attempts to show that orphan are different from other people but they are not worse than other people. Orphans like Daniel Deronda have never known the parental love and care but they have strong feelings and emotions: vanity is as ill at ease under indifference as tenderness is under a love which it cannot return (Eliot, 63). Similarly to Copperfield, Deronda looks for love but he is practically deprived of naivety. Instead, he has learned all the lessons the life has taught him. In fact, David Copperfield and Daniel Deronda has passed through hardships that makes them similar and their fate seems to be common to orphans in the Victorian Britain. However, Daniel Deronda seems to be more realistic in his views on life because he gets used to hardships and does not believe in goodness. He grew up and lived in the society where evil dominated over good and morality was not always observed: Gossip is a sort of smoke that comes from the dirty tobacco-pipes of of those who diffuse it: it proves nothing but the bad taste of the smoker (Eliot, 184).

Similarly to David Copperfield, Daniel Deronda relies on himself solely: I say that the strongest principle of growth lies in human choice (Eliot, 192). Consequently, both Dickens and Eliot agree that orphans were left on their own and they are accustomed to take choices and decisions independently of other people. Hence, both characters are bold and self-assured in a way.

Nevertheless, they still preserve some hopes for better, although Daniel Deronda may be not as optimistic in this regard as David Copperfield is:

you know nothing about Hope, that immortal, delicious maiden forever courted forever propitious, whom fools have called deceitful, as if it were Hope that carried the cup of disappointment, whereas it is her deadly enemy, Certainty, whom she only escapes by transformation. (Eliot, 235).

In such a way, George Eliot shows that orphan his character, his orphan, has preserved hope but, at the same time, he is a rational, bold and reasonable person who is accustomed to rely on himself solely.

Thus, in conclusion, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that orphans in both David Copperfield and Daniel Deronda mirror norms and traditions of the Victrorian society, which ignored orphans. The latter were left on their own and developed qualities typical for individuals who have got no support in their life from the part of their family. At the same time, orphans are good and independent people, who preserved good feelings, emotions and they believe in love and goodness.

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