Charles Dickens and David Copperfield

Charles Dickens and David Copperfield



Charles Dickens and David Copperfield

Charles Dickens

  • English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens's works are characterized by attacks on social evils, injustice, and hypocrisy. He had also experienced in his youth oppression, when he was forced to end school in early teens and work in a factory.
  • Dickens's lively good, bad and comic characters, such as the cruel miser Scrooge, the aspiring novelist David Copperfield, or the trusting and innocent Mr. Pickwick, have fascinated generations of readers.
  • Charles Dickens was born in Landport, Hampshire, during the new industrial age, which created misery for the class of low-paid workers and gave birth to theories of Karl Marx. His father was a clerk in the navy pay office, who was well paid but often ended in financial troubles.
  • In 1814 Dickens moved to London, and then to Chatham, where he received some education. He worked in a blacking factory, Hungerford Market, London, while his family was in Marshalea debtor's prison in 1824 - later this period found its way to the novel Little Dorrit (1855-57).
  • In 1824-27 Dickens studied at Wellington House Academy, London, and at Mr. Dawson's school in 1827.
  • From 1827 to 1828 he was a law office clerk, and then worked as a shorthand reporter at Doctor's Commons. He wrote for True Son (1830-32), Mirror of Parliament (1832-34) and The Morning Chronicle (1834-36).
  • He was in the 1830s a contributor to Monthly Magazine, and The Evening Chronicle and edited Bentley's Miscellany.
  • In the 1840s Dickens founded Master Humphrey's Cloak and edited the London Daily News.
  • These years as a journalist left Dickens with lasting affection for journalism and suspicious attitude towards unjust laws. His sharp ear for conversation helped him reveal characters through their own words.
  • Dickens's career as a writer of fiction started in 1833 when his short stories and essays appeared in periodicals.
  • His Sketches by Boz and The Pickwick Papers were published in 1836; he married in the same year the daughter of his friend George Hogarth, Catherine Hogart.
  • However, some people suspected that he was more fond of her sister, Mary, who moved into their house and died in 1837. Dickens requested that he be buried next to her when he died and wore Mary's ring all his life.
  • Another of Catherine's sisters, Georgiana, moved in with the Dickenses, and the novelist fell in love with her. Dickens had with Catherine 10 children but they were separated in 1858. Dickens also had a long liaison with the actress Ellen Ternan, whom he had met by the late 1850s.

His major works

  • The Pickwick Papers were stories about a group of rather odd individuals and their travels to Ipswich, Rochester, Bath and elsewhere.
  • Dickens's novels first appeared in monthly instalments, including
  • Oliver Twist (1837-39), which depicts the London underworld and hard years of the foundling Oliver Twist,
  • Nicholas Nickelby (1838-39), a tale of young Nickleby's struggles to seek his fortune, and
  • Old Curiosity Shop (1840-41).
  • Among his later works are
  • David Copperfield (1849-50), where Dickens used his own personal experiences of work in a factory,
  • Bleak House (1852-53), and
  • A Tale of Two Cities (1859), set in the years of the French Revolution.
  • Great Expectations (1860-61), the story of Pip (Philip Pirrip), was among Tolstoy's and Dostoyevsky's favorite novels.
  • The unfinished mystery novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood was published in 1870.
  • From the 1840s Dickens spent much time travelling and campaigning against many of the social evils of his time. In addition he gave talks and reading, wrote pamphlets, plays, and letters.
  • In the 1850s Dickens was founding editor of Household World and its successor All the Year Round (1859-70).
  • In 1844-45 he lived in Italy, Switzerland and Paris.
  • He gave lecturing tours in Britain and the United States in 1858-68.
  • From 1860 Dickens lived at Gadshill Place, near Rochester, Kent.
  • He died at Gadshill on June 9, 1870.
  • Although Dickens's career as a novelist received much attention, he produced hundreds of essays and edited and rewrote hundreds of others submitted to the various periodicals he edited.
  • Dickens distinguished himself as an essayist in 1834 under the pseudonym Boz.
  • ‘A Visit to Newgate’ (1836) reflects his own memories of visiting his own family in the Marshalea Prison. ‘A Small Star in in the East’ reveals the working conditions on mills and ‘Mr. Barlow’ (1869) draws a portrait of an insensitive tutor.

David Copperfield

  • Summary of the plot (see below)

David Coppefield
A summary

David is born at Blunderstone in Suffolk. His father had been dead six months. David's widowed mother draws the attention of Edward Murdstone, whom David dislikes. David goes to Yarmouth for two weeks with Peggotty, his mother's housekeeper, where he meets Mr Peggotty, Emily, Ham, and Mrs Gummidge. On his return home he finds that his mother has married Mr Murdstone, whose sister, Jane, moves into the household.
David, under the oppression of the Murdstones, falls behind in his studies and is given a beating during which he bites Mr. Murdstone. He is sent away to school at Salem House Academy near London run by the cruel Mr. Creakle. Upon arrival at the school he is forced to wear a sign saying: Be careful of him, he bites. David befriends Steerforth and Traddles.
David learns that his mother and his baby brother have died and is removed from school. Peggotty marries Barkis and visits David regularly. Murdstone sends David to London to work in the Murdstone and Grinby warehouse. He takes lodging with the Micawbers. The insolvent Micawbers are continually being harassed by creditors until, finally, Mr Micawber is imprisoned for debt in the King's Bench. After Micawber's release from debtor's prison, the family escapes to the country hoping that "something will turn up". David is miserable at Murdstone and Grinby's and decides to run away to Dover to throw himself on the mercy of his aunt, Betsy Trotwood.
David's aunt adopts him after contacting the Murdstones and verifying their treatment of him. David befriends Mr. Dick, who lives with his aunt. Betsy sends David to Dr. Strong's school in Canterbury where he lodges with Betsy's lawyer, Mr. Wickfield, and his daughter, Agnes. He meets Uriah Heep.
David meets the Micawbers again in Canterbury, where they have come to look for work, and introduces Mr. Micawber to Uriah Heep. David finishes school and, trying to decide what to do with his life, journeys back to Yarmouth to visit Peggotty. He stops in London on the way and runs into Steerforth who joins him on the trip to Yarmouth. They visit Peggotty and Mr. Peggotty who announces that Ham and Emily are to be married.
David decides to become a proctor in Doctor's Commons and is apprenticed to Spenlow and Jorkins. He takes lodging with Mrs. Crupp in the Adelphi section of London. Agnes warns David against Steerforth and tells him that that Uriah Heep has weasled his way into a partnership with her father, capitalizing on Mr. Wickfield's weaknesses. David falls in love with Spenlow's daughter, Dora and finds that his old guardian, Miss Murdstone, is Dora's "confidential friend".
David runs into his old friend Traddles and visits him in Camdentown where he learns that Traddles is a boarder with the Micawbers, who are still trying to keep a step ahead of creditors.
Barkis is dying and David journeys to Yarmouth to be with Peggotty during this crisis. Steerforth secretly charms Emily away from Ham and they run away together, Mr Peggotty goes in search of her. Betsy Trotwood visits David in London and informs him that she has lost her fortune through bad business deals, she and Mr. Dick move in with David. David goes to work for Dr. Strong, learning shorthand to try to earn money while still apprenticed at Doctor's Commons.
David and Dora are engaged in secret. Miss Murdstone finds David's letters to Dora and she and Mr. Spenlow confront David, telling him to forget about Dora. Mr. Spenlow is then found dead, with no will, and Dora goes to live with two spinster aunts.
Mr. Micawber is employed by Uriah Heep who has moved in with the Wickfields and has designs on Agnes, much to Mr. Wickfield's agony. David, like Dickens, becomes a parliamentary reporter and begins to write and have his stories published. His success allows him to marry Dora.
David has his first book published and becomes a successful author. Dora has no grasp of housekeeping despite David's coaxing. She begins to deteriorate with an unspecified illness. With the help of Martha, Emily is found, and plans are made for her to emigrate with Mr. Peggotty to Australia.
Mr. Micawber is entangled in the designs of Uriah Heep and becomes estranged from his family. Finally he comes forward and with the help of Traddles, exposes Heep as a cheat and a fraud, responsible for the decline of Mr. Wickfield and Betsy Trotwood's reverse of fortune.
Dora, on her deathbed, secretly asks Agnes to care for David. Betsy, her fortune restored, loans the Micawbers money to emigrate to Australia with Mr. Peggotty and Emily. David travels to Yarmouth to deliver a message to Ham and witnesses a storm at sea in which Steerforth drowns and Ham dies trying to rescue him. Peggotty and Emily emigrate with the Micawbers unaware of the death of Ham.
David travels abroad for three years during which he finds that he has really loved Agnes all along. On his return to England he marries Agnes. Mr. Peggotty and Emily prosper in Australia. Mr Micawber becomes a Magistrate in Port Middlebay. David and Agnes raise a family and David writes his autobiography.

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Charles Dickens and David Copperfield


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Charles Dickens and David Copperfield



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Charles Dickens and David Copperfield