Summary of David Copperfield

Summary of David Copperfield

The story of the novel follows the life of the protagonist David Copperfield from childhood to maturity. It begins with the title character recounting the events surrounding his birth. He was born at the beginning of the 19th century in his village Blunderstone. David’s mother Clara is a pretty and naive young widow when David was born after six months of his father’s death. Alone in the world, Clara depends on her loyal servant Peggotty to help her raise her son. David’s happy early childhood takes a sudden turn when his mother marries Mr. Murdstone. Murdstone beats David and sends him away to boarding school. He hardly allows Clara to speak to her son, but Peggotty manages to ensure David of her continued love and loyalty. David has a warm relationship with Peggotty, having spent time with her in Yarmouth and enjoying the company of Mr. Peggotty, her fisherman brother. Mr. Peggotty lives with his adopted niece Emily, and his adopted nephew Ham.

David gives a description of his boarding school as terrible because the students are regularly beaten but he befriends many including the upper-class James Steerforth. David goes home on holidays and can learn that his mother has given birth to a baby boy. Shortly after David returns to school, his mother and child die. When David’s mother dies, he is sent home from school. After Mr. Murdstone fires her, Peggotty moves to Yarmouth and marries Mr. Barkis, the horse cart driver. David meets Peggotty.

Instead of sending David back to school at the age of ten, his stepfather Murdstone sends David to work in a wine factory in London, a business in which Murdstone is a co-owner. While working, David realizes that without education his future would be insecure. He decides to run away and moves to Dover to find his affectionate aunt Betsey Trotwood. David finds his aunt and takes refuge with her. Betsey takes care of David, even as Murdstone tries to recover David’s guardianship. She encourages David to become a proctor, a lawyer. She sends him to a better school than the last one where he studied. The school is run by Dr. Strong, whose methods increase respect and self-reliance among his students. During this time, David is accompanied by lawyer Mr. Wickfield and his daughter Agnes, who is a friend and confidant of David. Wickfield’s clerk Uria Heep also lives at this home.

In a disguised way, Uriah Heep slowly gains a complete boost over Agnes and alcoholic Wickfield. Heep hopefully and maliciously informs David that he is interested in marrying Agnes.

After finishing school, David is an apprentice to become a proctor in the firm of Spenlow in London. Now David has concealed his relationship with Agnes and values her judgment and treats her like a dear sister. At this point, due to Heep’s deceptive activities, his aunt’s fortunes diminish. David works hard to make a living. He works morning and evening as secretary to his former teacher, Dr. Strong, and begins learning shorthand with the help of his old school-friend Traddles. With enough moral support from Agnes and his own hard work, David finally gets fame and fortune as an author, writing fiction.

Meanwhile, David’s selfish and snobbish school friend Steerforth meets with David but then goes on to seduce and dishonor Emily. He allures her to marry and elopes with her. After a long struggle, Her uncle Mr. Peggotty manages to find her with the help of Martha. Ham dies in a terrible storm off while trying to rescue the ship. Steerforth also died drowning in the sea. Mr. Peggotty takes Emily to a new life in Australia, where all eventually perceive security and happiness.

In the meantime, David falls in love with Dora and then marries her. Their marriage proves to be troublesome for David in terms of everyday practical matters, but he never stops loving her. Dora dies early in their marriage after an abortion. After Dora’s death, Agnes encourages David to return to normal life and his writing career. While living in Switzerland to alleviate his grief over so many losses, David realizes that he loves Agnes. After returning to England and trying unsuccessfully to hide his feelings, David sees that Agnes loves him too. They get married quickly and in this marriage, he gets true happiness that he has longed in his life. David and Agnes then have at least five children, including a daughter named Betsey Trotwood, after the name of his aunt.

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SR Sarker
SR Sarker
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