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David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Introduction: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens Book Review

David Copperfield is the story of a young man's adventures on his journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist. 

Among the gloriously vivid cast of characters he encounters is his tyrannical stepfather, Mr. Murdstone; his formidable aunt, Betsey Trotwood; the eternally humble yet treacherous Uriah Heep; frivolous, enchanting Dora; and the magnificently impecunious Micawber, one of literature great comic creations. 

In David Copperfield, the novel he described as his favorite childDickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create one of his most exuberant and enduringly popular works, filled with tragedy and comedy in equal measure. 

About the author: Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens composed this passage between 1845 and 1848 referring to the dark times of his youth when his family moved to London in the early 1820s. The imprisonment of his father forced the family to send the twelve-year-old Dickens to work in a blacking factory. 

This disruption to Dickens's childhood and education remained a source of intense grief throughout his life. Dickens found these memories too painful to continue his autobiography; in fact, he jealously guarded the facts of his London youth. 

It was only after his biographer John Forster published his Life of Charles Dickens in 1872 that readers learned of Dickens's difficult youth and of the autobiographical nature of one of his finest creations, David Copperfield.

Originally published in serial form from May 1849 through November 1850, David Copperfield is the first of Dickens's novels written entirely in the first person. Converting his autobiographical impulse into fiction allowed Dickens to explore uncomfortable truths about his life. 

David Copperfield's time at Murdstone and Grinby's warehouse, his schooling at Salem House, and his relationship with Dora all have their bases in Dickens's own life. But, it may be Dickens's most autobiographical novel, David Copperfield a work of fiction.

Book: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens 

  • Author: Charles Dickens 
  • Part of: Mint Editions  
  • Binding: Paperback


Excerpts from the original text: David Copperfield

Oh my god! At that time, if he gave me a good word, then I might have changed for the rest of my life, or become a different kind of person for the rest of my life; at that time, he only had to say a word of encouragement and a word of reason, Say a pity for my ignorance when I am young, a welcome me home, and a word that makes me feel relieved that the price is really my home: as long as I say such a sentence, then I can not only do not have to pretend to be outside to perfuse him. 

And on the contrary, we must be filial to him, not only not hate him, but on the contrary, we must respect him. I knew at the time that my mother was so trembling and silly when she saw me standing in the room. 

After staying for a while, I sneaked up to a chair, and when she looked at me with her eyes, she looked sadder than before—because she couldn’t see the lively and natural way of a child walking on the road. Footsteps. But no one said that at the time, and the time to say that was fleeting.—— Quoted from page 55 

David Copperfield Book Summary

David’s childhood was unfortunate, but as the old saying goes, when God closes a door for you, he will surely open a window for you. In misfortune and despair, the old nanny’s meticulous love for him made David’s character lacking. Distorted, still a brave and strong child. 

After that, whether it was Aunt, Agnes, Dr. Strong, etc., they all played a positive role in David's. Although there are constant setbacks throughout his life, every setback can be turned into motivation by him, which is worth learning. 

Therefore, whether it is friendship or love, the criterion I have always adhered to is whether the other party has a correct character and a positive character.

David Copperfield Book Review

David Copperfield published in 1850 is regarded by many readers and critics as the best novel of Charles Dickens. It is not easy to comment on a big book. That kind of spiritual intoxication, beautiful words, and shocking thoughts are difficult to write one by one. The thoughts I want to organize are only part of it.

This is an autobiographical novel that incorporates Dickens' own life experience. In addition to the hardships that David endured in the early days, a large part of it discusses family, marriage, and marriage trivial matters. 

There is no trivial matter under the sun. I used to see him describe housework irrespectively, and I felt it was unnecessary, and I felt it could be deleted, but now I realize that those little things are affecting people's life trajectories and emotions. 

According to the order of appearance and the date of marriage, the couples appearing in the book are as follows: 

  1. Mrs. Copperfield and Mr. Murdstone
  2. Peggotty and Barkis
  3. Mr. and Mrs. Micawber
  4. Doctor and Annie
  5. Steerforth and Emily 
  6. Besty (Aunt)
  7. Copperfield and Dora
  8. Copperfield and Agnes
  9. Traddles and Sophy

1. Mrs. Copperfield and Mr. Murdstone

Mrs. Copperfield is also David's mother. As soon as he appeared, David was the child who lost his father. His beautiful but weak mother finally gave birth to him. Later, his mother met Mr. Murdstone, and she did not know whether it was out of love or to find a father for the child, so the mother remarried. 

This was the first combination David encountered in his life, but this was an unfortunate combination. The stepfather was not good to David, indifferent and overly harsh. The mother felt pain when she saw her heart, but she did not dare to offend her husband. 

David's mother has the advantage of being kind and gentle, a typical little woman, but her character becomes a weakness when met with a selfish and indifferent husband. She was unable to stand up to protect the child but was tortured by the love of motherhood all the time. Day after day, the mother gradually lost weight and finally died. 

The mother’s ending implies that once a woman’s devotion to love is contrary to her gentle motherhood, it will fail; the weak will become slaves to the cold-blooded, and the result of a well-intentioned union is fatal and not good for oneself. It is even worse for children.

2. Peggotty and Barkis

Peggotty is David's nanny, and Barkis is David's groom, both of them are ordinary working people, and their combination is very simple. Barkis asked David at the beginning whether Miss Peggotty did a good job as reportedly. 

Later, Barkis fell ill in bed and said to David: My good wife, the bread is really as good as the rumors, and it has been very good. There is no romance or sweet talk at all in the marriage of the two. They are ordinary couples, but they never leave and respect each other. 

After Barkis fell ill, P never left to take care of him, and the husband often found out the few coins, hoping that his wife would not be so struggling. In David's view, although this marriage is not brilliant and dramatic, it reveals respect in every stroke.

3. Mr. and Mrs. Micawber

The couple is a vivid character described by Dickens. Mr. Micawber's business failed and led to bankruptcy, and he has been in a state of failure since then, but Mrs. Micawbert believes that her husband has extraordinary talents, and his repeated trials and failures prove that it is not his lack of ability, but social problems. 

She emphasized time and time again that she would not abandon her husband, and that she would keep her promise of marriage to death. This little woman was stubborn and a little too focused on her husband, but she had to say she was loyal and embarrassing. 

After hard work, the couple finally had a good turn for the better, gaining dignity and status on Australian soil that they could not get in Britain. Dickens always ridiculed his description of the couple and gave a good ending, probably because he intended to make good people get rewarded. 

But in reality, such a family has no money and has many children, fails but does not admit failure, repeatedly takes on debts, and repeatedly complains about society, which is often a tragic ending.

4. Doctor and Annie

are young and old. When Annie married Doctor, she had just lost her father and was young. Annie has always shown love and respect for the Doctor, but others faintly feel that Annie is not happy. 

Later, Annie confessed that she was very unhappy and thought she fell in love with a young man who grew up playing with her and almost cheated. But slowly, she felt the Doctor's affection and incomparable care and consideration. Apart from remorse, she was determined to truly love her husband. 

Others pointed out to the Doctor that Annie’s possible infidelity did not arouse his anger. On the contrary, he felt that Annie had become a wife at such a young age and could not get the happiness of a girl she should have, nor did he get enough guidance. His misfortune was caused by him. 

He still loves her very much, and his love does not change whether his wife loves him or not. What Annie said also revealed the shortcomings of the old and the young: a man who is like a father becomes a husband, then he loses a person who can guide and talk to him. 

The young wife becomes very lonely, her character cannot be fully formed, and she lacks the guidance of her elders. It is easy to suspect that she is in love with another man, and it is easy to make mistakes. The role of the father is irreplaceable.

5. Steerforth and Emily

This unfortunate combination is the climax of the book. The beautiful Emily was already engaged to Ham, but seeing the handsome and rich boy Steerforth rekindled Emily's desire to be a Lady. The two had a private relationship and finally eloped. Emily's nature is good. 

Her missteps are, on the one hand, being overloaded by too much care since she was a child. On the other hand, she has an extraordinary appearance, and beauty always leads to vanity. She wants to be a high-class woman and get rid of her birth. The insufficiency. But in the end, Steerforth left Emily, Emily lived in London, and was fortunate to be re-accepted by the family; but Steerforth died in the sea. 

Dickens did not criticize this relationship, David said that he still thinks about them as best as possible. But did Dickens imply that abandoning one's relatives and impulsive feelings is not a good end?

6. Besty (Aunt)

adopted David's aunt, who has always appeared in front of readers as a single woman. But after a mysterious man appeared, people knew that Miss Besty was already married. There are not many descriptions of this relationship. Besty's husband is not known what his name is. 

The only thing we know is that Besty is heartbroken, but he is not cruel to this husband. She shed tears and said: When I married him, he was still a fine-looking man. How can old love be so forgotten? But the old relationship shouldn't continue, Dickens let this obscure husband die.

7. Copperfield and Dora

David himself had two marriages. The first marriage was with Dora. Dora comes from a very good background, has been doted since childhood, and knows nothing about world affairs and vulgar things. Later, when David learned that his aunt was defeated, he tried to get Dora to learn how to cook and pay attention to the housework at home so that the two can be thrifty and keep the house. 

But Dora cried and acted like a baby, thinking that David had made her study too cruel. Dora's father learned that the relationship between the two of them was of course opposed, but soon he suffered a heart attack and fell off his horse. It was only after death that there was nothing left in the house, and Dora was taken care of by two aunts. 

This made it possible for the two to marry, and indeed they got married. But this marriage is always a little flawed. Dora is beautiful and cute, but he doesn't know any housework. The house is messy like a garbage post, and he is taken advantage of by the servants. 

David felt that his wife should learn to manage the house, but Dora objected, cried, and fainted. Later, he tried to learn, but he couldn't write two words with a pen. Dora asked David to call her Child-wife, which was really appropriate. David knew that there was no hope for his wife to learn, so he had to get used to accommodating himself. 

However, the dissatisfaction in the heart is difficult to eliminate with affection, and I faintly feel that his wife is holding him back. Dora felt this and was also annoyed that she was stupid and could not learn. Later, her body got worse and worse, and she died. 

Before his death, Dora said that if they had loved and played like little girls and boys, and then forgot to see each other, it might be better. Most of Dora's shortcomings come from the lack of education. Since she was spoiled as a doll, her mind will never grow up and she will not be able to adapt to the role of his wife.

This marriage also reminds me of Copperwood's marriage in Dreiser's writings. A man's love for a woman is first aroused by the beauty of his appearance, and he will not consider whether a woman is a wife or not. 

However, after getting married, I gradually feel that having a good wife can not only promote me to achieve greater achievements but also open a way for myself in the social world. The child-like dress of a coquettish and beautiful woman is charming at first but becomes tired after a long time. 

Because marriage, in the final analysis, is a return to life, life rather than a sexual impulse. The love between David and Dora is beautiful, but the marriage is not so good. Dora also knows that if she is like this, her husband's love for her will one day be exhausted. It would be better to die when she was young and when her husband still loved him.

8. Copperfield and Agnes

David and Agnes lived and studied together when they were young, and they were close friends with deep affection. Agnes has always encouraged him and can always guide and promote him to improve and be a better version of himself. David needs this spiritual power and has been encouraged by Agnes in difficult situations time and time again. He said: His imperfect marriage with Dora was also perfect because of the existence of Agnes.

After Dora's death, David spent three years in a boat. In loneliness, he saw his past experience clearly and found that he loved Agnes. In the past, he only thought of this incomparably warm emotion as the emotion of family members, but after more experience and experience, he knew that this emotion was much stronger and more lasting than the emotions of brothers and sisters. And Agnes is the woman that she has been looking for and is the most suitable for her. 

Seeing Agnes again, David heard from his aunt that Agnes may already have a lover, so he suppressed his emotions, hoping to maintain this precious emotion with a brother-sister relationship. But Agnes said to David in tears: She doesn't have a lover, she has loved him since the beginning. After that, there was nothing to say, the prince and princess lived happily and gave birth to a bunch of children.

People always have to go through many, many things, and only when they are no longer young do they know what they need. After experiencing so many lovers, I realized that the one who has been supporting me is precisely the life partner I have been looking for. Love is never too late. Only couples who are intellectually, mentally, and emotionally comparable can maintain a marriage for a long time.

9. Traddles and Sophy 

The whole book of Traddles and Sophy ends with the combination of this pair of lovers. Both of them are ordinary people, struggling from the bottom. They have been in love for a long time but got married after a long delay. 

For them, marriage is just a form, in fact, the two have already agreed on life like a husband and wife. Sophy is willing to wait for Traddles and will wait until he is eighty. Traddles has always loved and respected Sophy. Whether poor or rich, he loves this ordinary-looking woman.

Did Dickens end with the marriage of the couple? Does it imply that sincere and loyal feelings will have a good ending?

Study notes: David Copperfield

From the moment of this girl's birth, child, I intend to be her friend. I intend to be her godmother, and I beg you'll call her Betsey Trotwood Copperfield. There must be no mistakes in life with this Betsey Trotwood...

She must be well brought up, and well guarded against reposing any foolish confidence where they are not deserved. Miss Betsey Trotwood has a strong Pygmalion plot like Miss Havisham. I want to create a young self and start over...

Muhiuddin Alam is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of He serves as a consistent contributor to various websites and publications, including Medium, Quora, Reddit, Linkedin, Substack, Vocal, Flipboard, and Amazon KDP. Alam personally read numerous books and, for the past 10 years, has been providing book recommendations and reviews. Find Me: About Me & Google Knowledge Panel.

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