Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Even More Advice from David Copperfield

I've interspersed some rather lovely advice from David Copperfield with some horrid whinings of my own, but--thank goodness for you--it's time for more Copperfield again.

This little tidbit comes from the littlest tidbit of the novel, a super tiny dwarf named Miss Mowcher, who spends a few scenes flirting around with men and entertaining while David looks on. David doesn't take a liking to her, but once a mutual friend shows his true colors (I'd tell you who, and what he does, but that would spoil the story), she reveals she had no part in the deception, and shows she's as true a person as anyone, but has had to put on a show of sorts because of her chromosomal condition. 

She tells him she has no choice but to act as she does just so that she can survive in a world where she is deemed to be so different (because so small), and she promises to do all she can to help remedy the situation, even though she is not the cause. And as she leaves David, she tells him:

You are a young man.... Take a word of advice, even from three foot 
nothing. Try not to associate bodily defects [Dickens' words, not mine] with
mental, my good friend, except for solid reason.

You see, even though she was small and not the standard of beauty, her heart and mind were good. And even though the friend who had betrayed them both was very handsome and seemed kind, he was truly a selfish, egotistical user. 

This reminds me of a story I was told about the film Tootsie. Artists spent hours on Dustin Hoffman's make-up, but when they showed him the product, he thought they were kidding. He said something like, "Why don't you make me pretty?" and the make-up artists told him that was as pretty as he was going to get. Hoffman was deeply affected by this, for it suddenly occurred to him how many women he had passed by, had ignored, because they didn't fit his standard of beauty. And yet, dressed as a woman, he was the very kind of woman who would have been ignored. (If you haven't seen this movie, it's really very good. Bill Murray alone makes it worth watching, but Hoffman is also spectacular). 

I know what it's like to be passed over. It still happens to me, and has ever since I can remember. Yet I also know, with a sinking in my gut, that I have done the same to others. I have judged on looks alone, and I am a lesser person for having done so. I've likely missed out on some pretty spectacular people. 


  1. If I am truly honest with myself, I have done the same thing. I try not too but we are human and some people just freak me out just by looking at them, like bankers and lawyers doctors and the like. I just do not think I mesh with those kinds of people very well or would relate to them in anyway...

    But I see your point and I’ll try harder to include them when I can.
    But rich snobby people just don’t intrigue me…

  2. I'm going to come off like a complete liar, but I don't think I do that. I don't think I've ever done that. When I was in school, the kids that "no one" liked were often the ones I sought out. I'm not sure why. My sense of justice? The fact I was the antithesis of popular (and always have been) might have flavored how I look at people who are different or scorned.

    But I've also had friends who were gorgeous and popular (and I have no idea why they had anything to do with me), so I've always known that those characteristics don't preclude being a good person.

    I hate the notion that people are judged by appearance and I'd say I make a conscious effort not to do so, but I don't think I do. Judging people by appearance (or race or gender or whatever) just doesn't make sense so I just don't think I've ever done it.

    Or, if I have, I don't recall it.