Dickensian Concept of Androgyny: Gender Relations in David Copperfield

Yıldız N.

İmgelem /Imagination, vol.5, no.9, pp.329-347, 2021 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 5 Issue: 9
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Journal Name: İmgelem /Imagination
  • Journal Indexes: TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.329-347
  • Karadeniz Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Dickens wrote in times when women were officially possessions of their husbands, fathers or of any male who

was acknowledged as the head of the family. Families forbade their girls to read novels whose heroines were

contentious such as Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Although

Dickens is widely attacked for his feeble female characters in line with the angel in the house doctrine, according

to his great granddaughter Lucinda Dickens Hawskley, he is the fruit of the able women in his life aside from the

Victorian ideals. Elizabeth Dickens, his paternal grandmother, was a housekeeper who inspired him with her kind

nature and storytelling. It was his mother, Elizabeth Barrow, who taught him mathematics, literacy and Latin.

According to Dickens, to be a complete human being, the masculine sides of men should be harmonized with the

feminine traits of women. Similar to the influential women in his life, Dickens’ weak, angelic female characters

are, at the same time, the women who complete a lack in men and enable them to become ideal human beings via

their feminine characteristics. In this respect, a new type of androgyny, which the paper names as the Dickensian

androgyny, might be observed in Dickens’ male characters. Accordingly, this paper aims to dwell on Dickens’

concept of androgyny to grow into a complete human being through the harmony of male and female

characteristics as mirrored in his character David in David Copperfield.

Keywords: Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, Androgyny, Gender Relations.