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David Copperfield

Term Definition
David Copperfield

In David Copperfield, Dickens essentially traces the development of the title character to maturity, beginning with childhood. Much of the material in the novel is based on Dickens' own life, and Dickens has been quoted as saying that it ranks as his favorite of his own many works. The work was initially published through serial magazine format, with three chapters being released for a total of 18 months and the 19th month consisting of a double feature.  

Introduction To David Copperfield

David Copperfield is a mid-19th century novel by English author Charles Dickens (1812-1870). Long observed as a semi-autobiographical work, the novel debuted as an 1849-50 serial before appearing in book form. 

The novel explores the life of its titular protagonist, David Copperfield, from infancy to adulthood. Born after his father's death in 1820s Suffolk, the lad enjoys his first half-dozen years in the care of his mother and their housekeeper. At age seven, however, his mother marries a strict man, Edward Murdstone, with whom the boy fails to get along. Copperfield is eventually sent to boarding school, and he loses his mother soon after she gives birth to another child. The lad briefly works for his stepfather's troubled associate, Micawber, but eventually runs away to live with his great-aunt, Betsey Trotwood, who raises him to adulthood. During this time, Copperfield forms friendships with a range of people who affect each other's lives in various ways. After a brief, tragic marriage to Dora Spenlow, he settles down to raise a family with longtime confidant Agnes Wickfield.

Plot Of David Copperfield

In Dickens' time, human value was measured in terms of wealth. Consequently, poor people were viewed as unmotivated and morally deficient. The author countered this view by championing the poor and downtrodden. As a child, Copperfield is shown to be a good person, but he's constantly being exploited at the hands of cruel, grown men like Murdstone and boarding-school headmaster Mr. Creakle. However, the boy only frees himself from these forces with the help of his affluent great aunt, which reminds readers of the cold, hard reality that money equals power in the world of these characters.

Dickens also champions the notion of spousal equality in this story. The Strongs, for example, have what the author portrays as an ideal marriage based on mutual support and respect for one another. By contrast, the marriage between David's mother and the domineering Murdstone is depicted as abrasive and subjugating. In this regard, Dickens foreshadows an enlightened view on matrimony that was progressive for its time.

The author seems to equate good character with physical attractiveness. To illustrate this point, upstanding characters like David's mother are presented as beautiful, whereas people like Murdstone, Mr. Creakle, and Uriah Heep have homely appearances that match their vile personalities.

Information On Charles Dickens

Like various other Dickens novels (like Great Expectations), David Copperfield first appeared across 19 monthly installments with 32 pages each. Chapters 1-3 appeared in May 1849 with illustrations by English artist Hablot Knight Browne: better known by his penname "Phiz." The last installment, numbered XIX-XX, contained chapters 58-64 and hit the streets in November 1850.

David Copperfield has been adapted to film numerous times since the dawn of motion picture. Two of the earliest examples are a 1911 version directed by American silent filmmaker Theodore Marston, and a 1913 version by long-running British director Thomas Bentley. In modern times, the story has been treated to a 1999 BBC television adaptation with English actor Daniel Radcliffe in the title role, and a 2000 Hallmark Entertainment film starring actor/model Hugh Dancy.

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