She is first introduced as the woman in a white apron, knitting by the fireplace. She appears, at first, to be quite tiresome, for she always cries, complains and insists that she feels more acutely any unfavourable circumstances or occurrences. David observes:
Mrs. Gummidge's was rather a fretful disposition, and she whimpered more sometimes than was comfortable for other parties in so small an establishment.
She wallows constantly, dwells in her gloom and misery, and utters frequently what had long become a sort of favourite of mine:
"I am a lone lorn creetur' and everythink goes contrairy with me."
However, when comes the time real misfortune strikes - when Mr Peggotty's pain and anguish have pushed him to irrationality, when he is in danger of acting rashly and recklessly, when no one else knows what to do or how to react - she sensibly holds him back:
"No, no!" cried Mrs. Gummidge, coming between them, in a fit of crying. "No, no, Dan'l, not as you are now. Seek her in a little while, my lone lorn Dan'l, and that'll be but right! but not as you are now. Sit ye down, and give me your forgiveness for having ever been a worrit to you, Dan'l - what have my contrairies ever been to this! - and let us speak a word about them times when she was first an orphan, and when Ham was too, and when I was a poor widder woman, and you took me in. It'll soften your poor heart, Dan'l,"
She calms him, comforts him, and affords him the time it takes to clear his head and form more reasonable plans. David, once again, observes:
What a change in Mrs. Gummidge in a little time! She was another woman. She was so devoted, she had such a quick perception of what it would be well to say, and what it would be well to leave unsaid; she was so forgetful of herself, and so regardful of the sorrow about her, that I held her in a sort of veneration. The work she did that day!
As to deploring her misfortunes, she appeared to have entirely lost the recollection of ever having had any. She preserved an equable cheerfulness in the midst of her sympathy, which was not the least astonishing part of the change that had come over her.
Would you not adore such a woman? I would. In principle, I would, in good health and humour, gladly indulge you in your tendency to be sad and make it obviously so, your desire to be miserable and express it with bitterness, and your need to grumble and shed tears, if you would, when I am down, be my pillar of strength and source of comfort. In reality, though, would I? Could I? Could you?
I adore Mrs Gummidge, still, the lone lorn creetur' that she is.