David Copperfield Summary | David Copperfield | British Novels Adapted Into Films

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  David Copperfield Summary Charles Dickens' David Copperfield relates the story of a young boy's growth and developmentinto maturity. It is written from the point of view of the mature adult who recounts his ownobstacles and the obstacles of those around him and how it all shaped his life and his beliefs.The story starts with an account of the birth and childhood of David Copperfield at his home,Blunderstone Rookery. He was born six months after the death of his father and under circumstances which one of the nurses claimed would cause him to lead an unlucky life. He israised by his mother Clara and his nurse Peggotty, who give him a happy childhood. Heremembers his mother as carefree and recalls the relaxed atmosphere that the three of them hadtogether. He frequently says that this is one of the happiest times in his life.Everything changes once his mother meets the dark but handsome Mr. Murdstone. Peggottyimmediately takes a disliking to him and often fights with Clara about him, but Clara refuses toheed her advice. Peggotty and David visit Yarmouth, Peggotty's hometown, for a week, which iswhen David first meets Mr. Barkis, the carrier driver, Mr. Peggotty, Peggotty's brother, Ham,and Little Em'ly. When David and Peggotty return, however, his mother and Mr. Murdstonehave been married, and their former life disappears forever. Mr. Murdstone is a very controllingman who forces the principle of firmness on Clara with the help of his sister, Miss Murdstone.After David bites Mr. Murdstone while being beaten by him, David is sent away to SalemHouse, a boarding school for boys. There he meets Steerforth, a handsome, cultured boy whomhe admires dearly, and Traddles, an overweight but jovial and kind-hearted boy. He learns a lotat the school and has one more good day with his mother, but he soon receives the bad news thathis mother has passed away. He returns home for the funeral and never goes back to SalemHouse. Peggotty is fired by Mr. Murdstone and marries Mr. Barkis, and although she writes toDavid and sees him from time to time, she can no longer be there for him the way she was before.David is constantly neglected before he is finally sent away to London to work in one of Mr.Murdstone's warehouses, which he does not like at all, despite the respect he earns. He does getto meet the Micawbers, a kind yet financially troubled family. They are eventually forced tomove away to evade all of their debts, and once they move, David decides to leave as well and tofind his aunt, Miss Betsey, who abandoned him and his mother at his birth because he was not agirl. After a difficult journey, he finds the home of his aunt in Dover, and after a rude encounter with the Murdstones, she decides to let him stay, along with her other houseguest, Mr. Dick.David begins attending school in Canterbury and does well, He quickly rises to the top of hisclass. He lives with family friends Mr. Wickfield and his daughter, Agnes. Agnes is aroundDavid's age and will continue to be a significant influence in David's life. He also meets UriahHeep, Mr. Wickfield's servant to whom David takes an immediate disliking, Dr. Strong, themaster of his school, and Dr. Strong's wife Annie.  After he graduates, Miss Betsey and David decide that he should take some time to decide whathe wants to do. He decides to go visit Peggotty, and along the way he runs into Steerforth, whotakes him to his home. There, David meets his mother, Mrs. Steerforth, and Miss Dartle,Steerforth's cousin (who was scarred on the lip by Steerforth when they were younger). Davidand Steerforth go to Yarmouth and spend some time there, arriving just in time to hear theannouncement of Little Em'ly's and Ham's engagement, which Steerforth is not entirely happyabout.After conferring with his aunt, David decides to pursue the career of a proctor. He moves intoDoctors' Commons in London and works at the offices of Spenlow and Jorkins. He even gets hisown apartment with a landlady named Mrs. Crupp. He encounters old friends of his, includingTommy Traddles from Salem House, who is studying to be a lawyer and is working to savemoney for his wedding to his fiancee, and Mr. Micawber. Soon, however, Mr. Micawber isforced to leave once again due to financial issues. David meets Mr. Spenlow's daughter, Dora, avery beautiful but childish girl with whom he falls completely in love.David returns to Yarmouth when he hears that Mr. Barkis is about to die, and he remains there tosettle Peggotty's affairs for some time afterwards. During this time, Little Em'ly runs away withSteerforth, and Mr. Peggotty begins his quest to find her and to bring her back home to her family. Meanwhile, Miss Betsey shows up at David's door, having lost her fortune due to UriahHeep's scheming. He has weaseled his way into a partnership with Mr. Wickfield. AlthoughDavid is poor, he is determined to work hard so that his marriage with Dora can work out.However, Mr. Spenlow soon finds out about the affair and forbids it, only to die in a carriageaccident later that day, leaving Dora distraught and unwilling to see David. Eventually, though,the two marry and lead a happy life, although Dora is very bad at keeping house and is verychildlike in many ways. Her premature death is a serious blow to David, and it is mainly Agnes'support that keeps him afloat.Dr. Strong and Annie go through some difficult times when Uriah hints that Annie may behaving an affair with her cousin, Jack Maldon. However, Mr. Dick reconciles the two, and theygo back to being very affectionate. This episode only deepens the disliking of Uriah, and soon heis exposed as a fraud and taken down by Mr. Micawber (who was working for him) andTraddles.Meanwhile, Mr. Peggotty and David hear from Littimer, Steerforth's servant, that Little Em'lyhas run away from Steerforth. They ask her friend Martha for help finding her, and Marthaeventually finds Little Em'ly and leads Mr. Peggotty to her. He decides to move to Australia,where Little Em'ly can start a new life, as does the Micawber family. Steerforth dies in a storm just outside of Yarmouth, and Ham dies trying to rescue him.  David moves away to recover from all that he has been through. During this time, he discoversthat he truly loves Agnes. Not long after he returns to London, the two get married and livehappily with three children as well as Miss Betsey, Peggotty, and Mr. Dick.  The story traces the life of David Copperfield from childhood to maturity. David was born inBlunderstone, Suffolk, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, in 1820, six months after thedeath of his father. David spends his early years with his mother and their housekeeper,Peggotty. When he is seven years old, his mother re-marries Edward Murdstone. David is givengood reason to dislike his stepfather and has similar feelings for Murdstone's sister Jane, whomoves into the house soon afterwards. Murdstone thrashes David for falling behind in hisstudies. Following one of these thrashings, David bites him and soon afterwards is sent away to a boarding school, Salem House, with a ruthless headmaster, Mr. Creakle. There he befriendsJames Steerforth and Tommy Traddles.David returns home for the holidays to learn that his mother has given birth to a baby boy.Shortly after David returns to Salem House, his mother and her baby die and David returns homeimmediately. Peggotty marries a man named Mr Barkis. Murdstone sends David to work in awine merchant in London, of which Murdstone is a joint owner.[4] Copperfield's landlord,Wilkins Micawber, is sent to debtors' prison (the King's Bench Prison) and remains there for several months before being released and moving to Plymouth. No one remains to care for Davidin London, so he decides to run away.He walks from London to Dover, where he finds his only relative, his unmarried, eccentric auntBetsey Trotwood. She agrees to raise him, despite Murdstone's attempt to regain custody of David. David's aunt renames him Trotwood Copperfield and addresses him as Trot , and it becomes one of several names to which David answers in the course of the novel. The friendly Waiter and I As David grows to adulthood, a variety of characters enter, leave, and re-enter his life. Theseinclude Peggotty and her family, including her orphaned niece Little Em'ly , who moves in withthem and charms the young David. David's romantic but self-serving school friend, Steerforth,seduces and dishonours Little Em'ly, precipitating the novel's greatest tragedy, and his landlord'sdaughter Agnes Wickfield, becomes his confidante. The novel's two most familiar characters areDavid's sometime mentor, the debt-ridden Micawber, and the devious and fraudulent clerk, UriahHeep, whose misdeeds are eventually revealed with Micawber's assistance. Micawber is paintedsympathetically even as the narrator deplores his financial ineptitude. Micawber, like Dickens'own father, is briefly imprisoned for insolvency.The major characters eventually get some measure of what they deserve, and few narrativethreads are left hanging. Peggotty's brother Dan safely transports Emily to a new life inAustralia, accompanied by the widowed Mrs. Gummidge and the Micawbers. All eventually findsecurity and happiness in their adopted country. David marries the beautiful but naïve Dora
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