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David Copperfield (novel)
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David Copperfield (novel)

David Copperfield is a Bildungsroman by Charles Dickens, first published in 1849. Like most of his other works, it originally appeared in serial form (published in a magazine in 2-chapter segments). Many elements within the novel closely follow events in Dickens's own life, and it is probably the most autobiographical of all of his novels. It is also Dickens's favourite novel.

Table of contents
1 Story
2 Adaptations
3 External links


Warning: Plot details follow.

The story is that of a boy, David Copperfield, who is ill-treated by his cruel stepfather, Mr. Murdstone. When David's mother dies of the emotional torture inflicted on herself and her son by Mr. and Miss Murdstone, Mr. Murdstone sends him to work in the factory which he owns. The grim reality of hand-to-mouth factory existence echoes Dickens's own travails in a blacking factory. David escapes the factory by walking all the way from London to Canterbury, to find his only known relative - his eccentric Aunt Betsy Trotwood - who agrees to bring him up, if only to thwart the evil Miss Murdstone. David's aunt renames him Trotwood Copperfield, and for the rest of the novel the hero is called by either name. One effect of this double-naming is to divide the secondary characters according to when and through whom they got to know him.

The story follows David as he grows to adulthood, and the novel is enlivened by the many (now) well-known characters who enter and leave and re-enter his life. These include: his nurse, Peggotty, her family, and the orphan Little Em'ly who lives with them and charms the young David; his schoolfriend, Steerforth, who seduces and dishonors Little Em'ly, triggering the novel's greatest tragedy; and his childhood companion, Agnes Wickfield, the ideal "angel in the house". The two most famous characters are David's mentor, the constantly in debt Mr. Wilkins Micawber, and David's enemy, the devious and fraudulent clerk, Uriah Heep, whose misdeeds are eventually discovered with Micawber's assistance. Micawber is painted as sympathetic character, even as the author deplores his financial improvidence; and Micawber, like Dickens's own father, is briefly imprisoned for indebtedness. In classic Dickens style, the major characters get some measure of what they deserve, and few narrative threads are left hanging. David first marries the beautiful but empty-headed Dora Spenlow, but she dies in childbirth fairly quickly and David marries and finds true happiness with Agnes, who has never ceased to love him.


David Copperfield has been filmed on several occasions:

Numerous television adaptations of the work have also been created.

External links