Compare and contrast the characters of Dora and Emily in David Copperfield.

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Dora and Emily are both attractive women who have poor judgment; and David Copperfield falls in love with each of them, although Emily is a child crush. Dora's poor judgment comes out in her childish incompetence as a housewife, while Dora's emerges when she deserts Ham and runs off with...

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Dora and Emily are both attractive women who have poor judgment; and David Copperfield falls in love with each of them, although Emily is a child crush. Dora's poor judgment comes out in her childish incompetence as a housewife, while Dora's emerges when she deserts Ham and runs off with Steerforth.

As for their contrasts, Dora is far less competent at adult tasks than Emily. While Emily becomes a fine apprentice dressmaker and has aspirations to move up the social ladder, Dora is the eternal child bride, too sheltered and ornamental to be good at anything. She even says to David:

I wonder why you ever fell in love with me?

Unlike Dora, who is content with her station in life, Emily's discontent gets her into trouble. She ends up a social pariah when she runs off with Steerforth. Dora remains respectable, if silly.

Both Dora and Emily, however, suffer sad fates. Dora dies not long into her marriage, while Emily, after her scandal, is forced to emigrate to Australia with Ham to start over.

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Dora and Emily both want to be ladies. Dora, having come from a well-to-do family, was born into and brought up in this lifestyle. She is concerned about what a lady should do and should not do. Emily, however, is from a working-class family. Though she does not know exactly what a lady should do and act like, her main goal is to keep her family safe, instead of risking their lives at sea. Her misunderstanding of what a lady is leads her to a life that no lady would countenance: she elopes with Steerforth, who eventually deserts her. She is forced into prostitution, as far from being a lady as she can be. Dora marries David, but fails in that most important “duty” of a woman (as conceived in that time period): having children. Emily rejoins her family and does the best she can, especially after Ham dies.

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