There are so many excellent female characters in literature, and I've always found it very hard to choose a favorite. Through the years, however, one Dickens heroine has become dearer to me--Agnes Wickfield of David Copperfield. Though I have always been drawn to her, I can now better appreciate her patience, her loyalty, and, above all, her desire to sacrifice herself for her loved ones for the love of God. Agnes quietly does her duty, happily and joyfully. She never complains, and she always tries to see the best in everyone, though she is no fool. Her devotion to David is a most beautiful example of true friendship, a friendship which never wavers because she wants only what is best for him; and she proves this by her actions as well as her words. All the while she is learning, too.
Just recently I have begun to see the parallels between these characters and my beloved Dante and Beatrice. Agnes is Beatrice to David's Dante; she guides him ever higher and closer to heaven over a long and often difficult path. She counsels him when she sees him straying from the right road and, though he doesn't always listen to her, she remains steadfast in her faithfulness to him. Only after many trials have befallen him does David begin to see Agnes for who she really is.
David Copperfield ends with David's beautiful words to Agnes, which are reminiscent of Dante's words to Beatrice at the end of Vita Nuova. David says:
"Oh Agnes, Oh my soul, so may thy face be by me when I close my life indeed; so may I, when realities are melting from me, like the shadows which I now dismiss, still find thee near me, pointing upward!"
Upward to God. That is where both Beatrice and Agnes lead the ones they love, always lifting them higher. I pray that I will always do the same for those I love. May God grant my request.