January 19, 2021

#08-038: David Copperfield

pastel drawing of a girl and boy in antique clothing, holding hands and standing on the beach in front of one boat, with another boat converted into a house behind
David and "Little Em'ly" at Yarmouth

Note: Few authors have captured a time and place like the 19th-century English writer Charles Dickens. His David Copperfield, a boy and man of his times, brings the age to life.

Get Ready: Do you think misfortune, such as a hard upbringing, can make someone a better person?

David Copperfield is the main character in the eponymous novel by the great English writer, Charles Dickens.

In the book, David is raised by his widowed mother who, along with the housekeeper, calls him "Davy." When he is seven, his mother remarries, to a man named Edward Murdstone. In order to get him out of the way, the family sends Davy to live with the housekeeper's brother, a fisherman called Mr. Peggotty, and his extended family. "Master Copperfield," as they call him, falls in love with Peggotty's foster daughter, "Little Em'ly."

David returns home, and dislikes his strict stepfather. Murdstone's sister Jane joins the household, and together the two terrorize David's poor mother. When Murdstone attempts to beat David for falling behind in his studies, David bites him, and is sent away to a boarding school with a ruthless headmaster. There he befriends an admired older boy, James Steerforth.

When David goes home for the holidays, he learns his mother and Murdstone have had a baby boy. Mother and child soon die, and David is sent to London to work for a wine merchant, in whose business Murdstone has a share. But when David's landlord, Mr. Micawber, is sent to debtor's prison, no one is left to take care of him, so he runs away to find his kind old great-aunt Betsey Trotwood. She renames him "Trotwood Copperfield" and calls him "Trot."

She sends "Trot" to a better school, one which inculcates honor and self-reliance. He falls in love with Agnes, the daughter of his new landlord, a lawyer, but must contend with a dishonest boarder named Uriah Heep, who manipulates Agnes's father. David thwarts his plans, and Heep later ends up in prison.

But because Heep's schemes have diminished Aunt Betsey's fortune, David must work hard to support himself, ultimately becoming a successful author. 

His school friend Steerforth re-enters his life and after seducing Emily, deserts her in Europe. Her uncle, Mr. Peggotty, finds her, and takes her off to a new life in Australia.

In the meantime, David has fallen in love with Dora Spenlow, his boss's daughter, and marries her. She soon dies of a miscarriage, and David marries again, this time to Agnes, the landlord's daughter. Together the happy couple have five children, and name a daughter after great-aunt Betsey Trotwood.


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Copperfield

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. contend with
  2. diminished
  3. eponymous
  4. foster daughter
  5. great-aunt
  6. inculcates
  7. miscarriage
  8. self-reliance
  9. thwarts
  10. widowed

  1. girl one chooses to raise as one's own
  2. teaches persistently and earnestly
  3. reduced; lessened
  4. having had one's husband die
  5. supporting oneself
  6. grandparent's sister
  7. struggle against
  8. named after
  9. loss of a child before birth
  10. successfully opposes

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for January 19, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. g; 2. c; 3. h; 4. a; 5. f; 6. b; 7. i; 8. e; 9. j; 10. d