David Copperfield

David Copperfield

Doctor Strong Character Analysis

Doctor Strong is the headmaster of the school David attends in Canterbury. He is an aging, scholarly man whose primary goal in life is to develop a new dictionary. Nevertheless, he is extremely considerate of those around him and is generous to a fault: for instance, he either does not notice or does not care that his mother-in-law, Mrs. Markleham, is using him to advance her relatives' prospects. Doctor Strong's kindness makes him a favorite with his students but actually places some strain on his marriage. In his selflessness, Doctor Strong assumes that if his wife, Annie, truly is having an affair with her cousin, Jack Maldon, it is the Doctor's own fault for marrying a woman so much younger than himself. This leads him to push Annie away, much to her distress, and the misunderstanding is ultimately resolved only through Mr. Dick's intervention.

Doctor Strong Quotes in David Copperfield

The David Copperfield quotes below are all either spoken by Doctor Strong or refer to Doctor Strong. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Puffin edition of David Copperfield published in 2013.
Chapter 45 Quotes

"There is nothing," said Annie, "that we have in common. I have long found that there is nothing. If I were thankful to my husband for no more, instead of for so much, I should be thankful to him for having saved me from the first mistaken impulse of my undisciplined heart."

Page Number: 552
Explanation and Analysis:
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Doctor Strong Character Timeline in David Copperfield

The timeline below shows where the character Doctor Strong appears in David Copperfield. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 16: I Am a New Boy in More Senses Than One
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Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
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...to school the next morning and introduces him to his new schoolmaster, who is named Doctor Strong. Doctor Strong is a "stiff" elderly man dressed in old-fashioned clothing, so David is... (full context)
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Ambition, Social Mobility, and Morality Theme Icon
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Doctor Strong leads Mr. Wickfield and David to the schoolroom, which looks out on a garden.... (full context)
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At that moment, Mr. Wickfield returns home. He praises Doctor Strong to David, saying he is an extremely kind man and warning David not to... (full context)
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Ambition, Social Mobility, and Morality Theme Icon
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...Maldon pokes his head into the room and announces that while Annie and "the old Doctor" would prefer him to stay close by, he wants to leave as soon as possible... (full context)
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...to the school that they are eager to do well just to do the school—and Doctor Strong himself—credit. The Doctor's kindness makes him a favorite with the students, despite his eccentricities... (full context)
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Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
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...the "Old Soldier" because of the way she "marshals great forces of relations against the Doctor"—that is, she uses Annie's position to advance her own family. Mrs. Markleham is present at... (full context)
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Ambition, Social Mobility, and Morality Theme Icon
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...the singing or the card game. The supper that follows is awkward for everyone but Doctor Strong, who doesn't seem to notice Annie and Maldon's moodiness, or the inappropriateness of Mrs.... (full context)
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Returning inside, David learns that Annie is missing. Doctor Strong and the guests eventually find her lying in the hall in a swoon. She... (full context)
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...to fetch a purse Agnes accidentally left behind. As he enters the study, he sees Doctor Strong sitting in a chair reading aloud to Annie, who is seated at his feet... (full context)
Chapter 17: Somebody Turns Up
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...out to have a knack for making toys out of odds and ends, and even Doctor Strong eventually hears about Mr. Dick's skills. David introduces the two men, and Mr. Dick... (full context)
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...lowly to be considered David's friends. David explains that he is now a student at Doctor Strong's and asks whether he could visit Mrs. Micawber. Micawber agrees that this is a... (full context)
Chapter 18: A Retrospect
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David's time at Doctor Strong's passes by almost without him noticing it, although certain incidents and impressions stand out.... (full context)
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...troubled by the appearance of a bully: a "young butcher" who dislikes the students at Doctor Strong's and beats several of them up. David decides to fight the butcher and is... (full context)
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Time passes, and the former head boy returns to visit Doctor Strong's. He is studying to be a lawyer, but David no longer finds him as... (full context)
Chapter 19: I Look About Me, and Make a Discovery
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Later, Mr. Wickfield, Agnes, and David all go to have tea at Doctor Strong's. The Doctor says he plans to retire from his position as headmaster soon so... (full context)
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Mrs. Markleham thanks Doctor Strong profusely and urges Annie—unsuccessfully—to do the same. She then reads aloud from Maldon's letter... (full context)
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...evening goes more smoothly, although Mr. Wickfield seems troubled and continues to shoot glances at Doctor Strong and Annie. When Annie and Agnes sing and play duets together, David realizes that... (full context)
Chapter 27: Tommy Traddles
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While they wait for Mrs. Micawber, Mr. Micawber asks David about Doctor Strong and reminisces about their last meeting in Canterbury. He then reminds David (at great... (full context)
Chapter 35: Depression
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...can find the time, he might be able to earn some money as a secretary: Doctor Strong is retiring to London and is looking for an assistant. David is free in... (full context)
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When David returns from posting his letter to Doctor Strong, he discovers that Agnes has quietly rearranged the apartment to give it a more... (full context)
Chapter 36: Enthusiasm
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...would be a good home for him and Dora. Eventually, he arrives at Highgate, where Doctor Strong now lives. (full context)
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When David reaches Doctor Strong's cottage, he finds the Doctor in the garden. It takes a moment for the... (full context)
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Doctor Strong then says that he has no objection to hiring David as his secretary, but... (full context)
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Doctor Strong invites David in, and he has breakfast with the Doctor and Annie. While they... (full context)
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Between his work for Doctor Strong and his time at Doctors' Commons, David is now very busy. The thought that... (full context)
Chapter 39: Wickfield and Heep
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...wants to see Agnes anyway, so he arranges to take a few days off from Doctor Strong and from his office in Doctors' Commons, where business has suffered in the wake... (full context)
Chapter 40: The Wanderer
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One day as David is walking home from Doctor Strong's, he notices a woman who seems familiar crossing the road in front of him... (full context)
Chapter 42: Mischief
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Around this time, Agnes visits Doctor Strong. Mr. Wickfield comes with her, and both Agnes and the Doctor hope the visit... (full context)
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...condescension, and that he was always "beneath him" too. David assumes Uriah is referring to Doctor Strong and defends him, but Uriah says he meant Jack Maldon. Miserably, David realizes that... (full context)
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At that moment, Jack Maldon himself arrives at Doctor Strong's, and Uriah begins laughing. David walks away in disgust. (full context)
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As Agnes and David walk to Doctor Strong's, David listens eagerly as Agnes praises Dora, feeling that he has never loved Dora... (full context)
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Agnes says goodnight to David and goes inside Doctor Strong's house. David, however, lingers outside and sees a light on in the Doctor's study.... (full context)
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...witnessed them firsthand. Eventually, Mr. Wickfield admits that he has "doubts," and that he thought Doctor Strong did as well. Doctor Strong denies this, saying he only wished to help Jack... (full context)
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There is a long silence, during which Doctor Strong paces back and forth, discreetly crying. Finally, he says that he is to blame... (full context)
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Doctor Strong leaves the room, accompanied by Mr. Wickfield. Uriah remarks that he didn't expect Doctor... (full context)
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...that he hit Uriah hard enough that he had to have a tooth removed. Meanwhile, Doctor Strong spends most of the rest of the Wickfields' visit shut inside his house. (full context)
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When David returns to his work as secretary, Doctor Strong gives him a letter asking him not to speak about the conversation with anyone.... (full context)
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The one thing that appears to cheer up both Doctor Strong and Annie Strong is Mr. Dick's presence. Although David is not sure how much... (full context)
Chapter 45: Mr. Dick Fulfills My Aunt's Prediction
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Although David no longer works for Doctor Strong, he now lives in the same neighborhood and sees him often. Mrs. Markleham still... (full context)
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Doctor Strong sorrowfully agrees with all Mrs. Markleham says, and the end result is that Annie... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Miss Betsey finds the state of Doctor and Mrs. Strong's marriage troubling and confusing. She suspects Mrs. Markleham is making the situation... (full context)
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...on to the main subject of his visit and describes how grateful he is for Doctor Strong's patience, kindness, and wisdom. Mrs. Strong, meanwhile, is a "star" in Mr. Dick's eyes.... (full context)
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...day, however, David and Miss Betsey are going for an evening stroll and pass by Doctor Strong's house, where they find Annie Strong and Mr. Dick in the garden. Mrs. Strong... (full context)
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...where David and Miss Betsey are seated, and scolds Annie for not informing her that Doctor Strong was meeting with someone about his will. She then explains how she overheard Doctor... (full context)
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Once inside the study, Annie Strong immediately kneels before Doctor Strong. Mr. Dick asks what's wrong as the Doctor tries to raise his wife to... (full context)
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...and—at Annie's urging—explains the conversation that took place between him, Uriah Heep, Mr. Wickfield, and Doctor Strong. When he finishes, Annie finally allows Mr. Dick to help her stand, saying she... (full context)
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Annie continues her story, explaining that she eventually grew used to the idea of marrying Doctor Strong, and was "proud" that he thought she deserved him. Because she herself had not... (full context)
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...strike David, although he isn't quite sure why. Meanwhile, Annie says she is grateful to Doctor Strong for saving her from "the first mistaken impulse of [her] undisciplined heart." (full context)
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
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...an affair. She was so ashamed, however, that she couldn't bring herself to speak to Doctor Strong. The fact that Doctor Strong insisted on being kind to Maldon for Annie's sake... (full context)
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Throughout Annie's speech, Doctor Strong has attempted to reassure her. Now that she has finished, the couple embrace, and... (full context)
Chapter 62: A Light Shines on My Way
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David and Agnes marry about two weeks later, with only Traddles, Sophy, Doctor Strong, and Annie Strong as wedding guests. As the couple drives away together, Agnes says... (full context)
Chapter 64: A Last Retrospect
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...calls 'society,'" which includes people like Jack Maldon. Maldon himself is safe in a post Doctor Strong secured for him, but nevertheless speaks condescendingly of the Doctor, calling him "charmingly antique." (full context)
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Meanwhile, Doctor Strong continues to work on his dictionary. He and Annie Strong now have a happy... (full context)