Wednesday, January 26, 2022

David Copperfield's "father-in-law"

When David Copperfield in Charles Dickens's novel returns to England from three years abroad, he stays at the Coffee-House at Gray's Inn, where his friend Thomas Traddles lives. After surprising Traddles and his bride Sophy, he returns to the Coffee-House and encounters a figure from the beginning of the novel, Mr. Chillip, the doctor who attended his birth. Among other things, Mr. Chillip mentions that he is a neighbor of Copperfield's "father-in-law". At first, I was puzzled, since Copperfield's late wife Dora's father Mr. Spenlow had died many years ago, but then I remembered that "father-in-law" once also meant "stepfather". Hence, it refers here to Mr. Murdstone, David's mother's second husband. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 26 January 2022)

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