David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens …A Review by Yokibu Editorial
Posted on: July 19, 2019.

The book, written by Charles Dickens—one of the most beloved and widely acclaimed authors of 19th century English literature—is a story of its titular character, David Copperfield, a young boy in Victorian-era Britain whose life is a roller coaster of dramatic events, oscillating between happy and sad episodes.

The narrative—written from the point-of-view of the protagonist—chronicles the struggles faced by a young boy in a Victorian society, typically where the poor were mistreated, both morally and socially, particularly in its industrial heartlands.

The story begins… David Copperfield lives an unhappy childhood. Shortly after David is born, his father dies, and his mother re-marries. David’s stepfather is the frightful Mr. Murdstone, and soon after the marriage, Mr. Murdstone’s sister also moves into their house. Then comes a day when David takes quite a beating from Mr. Murdstone and bites him in retaliation. Shortly afterwards, David is sent away to a boarding school where he meets and becomes friends with a couple of other boys, James Steerforth and Tommy Traddles.

Before David can finish school, sadly his mother dies. There is no one who could afford for his further schooling, and he is sent to work in a factory for his living and sustenance. At work, David meets Mr. Micawber, but the relationship is only brief as Mr. Micawber is sent away to debtors prison. While continuing to work at the factory, David begins to experience the hardships of the poor who work in urban industries. Unable to bear the atrocious workplace treatment any longer, David escapes to Dover to meet his aunt who adopts him, renames him Trot, and arranges for him to continue school.

David meets James Steerforth in London while seeking a career there, having finished school, now. James introduces David to his adoptive family. While at London, David meets a young girl named Dora—the daughter of a well-renowned solicitor—whom he falls in love with, and also meets Tommy Traddles who, coincidentally, is boarding with Mr. Micawber. This juncture in the story reunites David with Mr. Micawber, a delightful yet still economically useless character.

Dora’s solicitor father dies, and David and Dora get married. Consequently, to make ends meet as money is short, David takes up various other jobs—like the author Dickens himself; David Copperfield is mostly the Dickens’ semi-autobiographical, incorporating real-life experiences from the author’s childhood and further life—including writing fiction for a living.

Presently, Mr. Wickfield—a friend from home—is in not-so-good-times as Uriah Heep, his evil clerk, has snatched his business from him. To makes matters even more complicated, Heep has Micawber working for him as well. However, Mr. Micawber and David’s boarding school friend Tommy Traddles oust Heep by exposing his illegal, unethical business dealings, and rightfully return the business back to Mr. Wickfield.

Even before David can enjoy the triumph, Dora loses her child and also falls incredibly ill. Dora dies after battling her illness for long, no longer, and David travels to Switzerland for a number of months. While  travelling, David realizes that he is in love with his old friend, Agnes, Mr. Wickfield’s daughter, and returns home to marry Agnes … the story ends.

As the story unfolds and progresses, the portrayal of the protagonist turns realistic and touching—that of a young man growing up, realizing the difficulty of being an adult, of marrying, of finding love and of getting on, and eventually coming to terms with the world. David Copperfield is a long, sprawling story told in a very interesting way, with sufficient comic relief provided by one of Dickens’ most entertaining comic characters. However, the novel also has in it a note of seriousness that is not always apparent in some of Dickens’ other books.

The overall feeling imparted while reading David Copperfield is very real, and shines from every page of this delightful book, making it one book that has deserved its sustained reputation throughout the 20th century, and into the 21st century.


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