David Copperfield

David Copperfield

Rosa Dartle Character Analysis

Rosa Dartle is an orphaned relation of James Steerforth; after the death of Rosa's parents, Mrs. Steerforth engaged her as a companion. Rosa and Steerforth therefore grew up together and at one point were sweethearts—according to Rosa, she was the object of Steerforth's "truest" love. Unfortunately, Steerforth's spoiled upbringing and consequent selfishness ruined any possibility of a lasting relationship between the two. Although Rosa continued to love Steerforth exclusively and obsessively, Steerforth flirted with Rosa as a way of passing the time between what is implied to be a string of lovers. These experiences permanently twist Rosa's character, turning her into a bitter, sarcastic, and angry woman who vents her frustrations on those she sees as responsible for her own misery—most notably, little Em'ly and Mrs. Steerforth. Rosa's warped personality is echoed in her physical appearance; she bears a scar on her face from a time when Steerforth lost his temper and threw a hammer at her.

Rosa Dartle Quotes in David Copperfield

The David Copperfield quotes below are all either spoken by Rosa Dartle or refer to Rosa Dartle. 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 50 Quotes

"The miserable vanity of these earth-worms!" she said, when she had so far controlled the angry heavings of her breast, that she could trust herself to speak. "Your home! Do you imagine that I bestow a thought on it, or suppose you could do any harm to that low place, which money would not pay for, and handsomely? Your home! You were a part of the trade of your home, and were bought and sold like any other vendible thing your people dealt in."

Page Number: 599
Explanation and Analysis:
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Rosa Dartle Character Timeline in David Copperfield

The timeline below shows where the character Rosa Dartle appears in David Copperfield. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 20: Steerforth's Home
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
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David, Steerforth, and Mrs. Steerforth enter the dining room, where they meet another woman: Rosa Dartle, who is Mrs. Steerforth's companion. She is roughly thirty and has "some appearance of... (full context)
Ambition, Social Mobility, and Morality Theme Icon
...he would enjoy "seeing that sort of people together, and […] making one of 'em." Rosa latches onto this remark, however, and presses Steerforth about whether the Peggottys are "really animals... (full context)
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Later, Steerforth asks David what he thinks of Rosa and, when David hesitantly says that she is clever, retorts that Rosa is habitually sharp.... (full context)
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Later that day, the Steerforths and David have tea together, and David notices that Rosa's scar tends to flush or turn pale when she is upset. He also notices that... (full context)
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...for will always help and protect David. Throughout this entire conversation, David is conscious of Rosa listening on while seeming to play backgammon. (full context)
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...to visit the Peggottys in a week or so. As they talk over these plans, Rosa asks why Steerforth calls David "Daisy," and David is forced to admit that it is,... (full context)
Chapter 21: Little Em'ly
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...he wants to see the Peggottys in their "aboriginal condition," and jokes with David about Rosa's previous words on that topic.  (full context)
Chapter 24: My First Dissipation
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...day. David stays for dinner and talks about his trip to Yarmouth with Steerforth. Although Rosa Dartle is again "full of hints and mysterious questions," David is in such a good... (full context)
Chapter 25: Good and Bad Angels
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...tell her when he fell in love. David admits that he is somewhat infatuated with Rosa Dartle, and Agnes teases him about his many "violent attachments." She then asks if he... (full context)
Chapter 28: Mr. Micawber's Gauntlet
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...Steerforth's before going to Yarmouth, joking that he wants David to "stand between" him and Rosa Dartle. David agrees to come the following day and then walks with Steerforth to the... (full context)
Chapter 29: I Visit Steerforth at His Home, Again
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...heads to Steerforth's home. Littimer is not there (to David's relief), but Mrs. Steerforth and Rosa Dartle are, and are glad to see David. He is a little disconcerted, however, when... (full context)
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Rosa asks if David's work is really so interesting that it prevents him from visiting the... (full context)
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David reaches this conclusion after a conversation Rosa starts at dinner one night. She begins by hinting that there is something she wants... (full context)
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Meanwhile, David has also noticed that Steerforth seems unusually determined to make himself agreeable to Rosa. Rosa initially resists his efforts to win her over, but softens by the time dinner... (full context)
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Mrs. Steerforth enters as Rosa leaves and asks what the matter is. Steerforth replies that she is compensating for her... (full context)
Chapter 32: The Beginning of a Long Journey
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Despite Rosa Dartle's repeated attempts to quiet her, Mrs. Steerforth launches into a long rant about how... (full context)
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...any hope in talking to her to begin with. As he and David leave, however, Rosa intercepts them and bitterly "congratulates" David for bringing Mr. Peggotty to the house and causing... (full context)
Chapter 36: Enthusiasm
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...walking by Mrs. Steerforth's house, where he sees Steerforth's own room has been shut up. Rosa Dartle, meanwhile, is pacing fretfully in the garden. Regretting his decision to stop by, David... (full context)
Chapter 46: Intelligence
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...turns out to be Mrs. Steerforth's maid asking him to come in and talk to Rosa Dartle. David agrees, and learns from the maid as they walk back that Mrs. Steerforth... (full context)
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Rosa asks whether anyone has found little Em'ly (although she does not refer to her by... (full context)
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Rosa and Littimer speculate on Emily's fate: Rosa suggests that she is dead, but Littimer says... (full context)
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David attempts to ask, through Rosa, whether Littimer or Steerforth intercepted any letters sent to little Em'ly. Littimer refuses to speak... (full context)
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Rosa says that Littimer also told her that Steerforth is currently sailing off the coast of... (full context)
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...mother, she would be proud of him. David then says goodbye to Mrs. Steerforth and Rosa and, as he looks back at them, imagines that the rising mist is a "sea"... (full context)
Chapter 50: Mr. Peggotty's Dream Comes True
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...Martha reach Martha's room, they see a woman enter before them. David recognizes her as Rosa Dartle and, hearing voices inside the room, he and Martha go around to a back... (full context)
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As Rosa continues to taunt little Em'ly for her "mock-modesty," Emily begs her to show her some... (full context)
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Emily begs Rosa not to speak of her family so disrespectfully, but Rosa simply ignores her, saying that... (full context)
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Rosa warns little Em'ly that if she doesn't leave this house immediately, she will tell everyone... (full context)
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As Rosa is speaking, David hears footsteps on the staircase, and Mr. Peggotty rushes into Martha's room... (full context)
Chapter 51: The Beginning of a Longer Journey
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...out in search of Mr. Peggotty and David. Mr. Peggotty says he isn't sure how Rosa found Emily, but he suspects Littimer told her. (full context)
Chapter 56: The New Wound, and the Old
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...by mementos of Steerforth, as the maid takes his card up to Mrs. Steerforth and Rosa. Eventually, the maid returns and tells David that Mrs. Steerforth is ill, but that he... (full context)
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...has reconciled with her son, he can't reply. Instead, he mouths the word "Dead" to Rosa. Mrs. Steerforth, however, does not see this, and David tries to break the news to... (full context)
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Upset, Mrs. Steerforth asks Rosa to come to her. Rosa does, but also asks whether Mrs. Steerforth's "pride" is satisfied,... (full context)
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Rosa continues, saying she loved Steerforth more truly than Mrs. Steerforth, and that she would have... (full context)
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David begins to say that Rosa ought to feel compassion for Mrs. Steerforth as a grieving mother, but Rosa interrupts, asking... (full context)
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David returns later that day with Steerforth's body, and learns that Rosa is still with Mrs. Steerforth, who is insensible despite doctors' efforts to revive her. He... (full context)
Chapter 64: A Last Retrospect
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David describes a visit to Mrs. Steerforth and Rosa. Although Mrs. Steerforth still possesses "traces of old pride and beauty," her overall state of... (full context)