Friday, August 15, 2008

The Personal History and Experience of David Copperfield the Younger

again, each post shall provide only summaries of the assigned chapters. I hope lively discussion of the characters and themes present in each week's reading will appear in the comments section.

chapter one ("I am Born"): young David exhibits wit and self-deprecation as he recounts his own birth and earliest experiences. his father, having died months before, left his mother a small pension upon which she and her servant, Peggotty, plan to raise the child. a wealthy aunt of his father, Mrs. Betsey Trotwood Copperfield, appears. she is convinced young David shall be born a girl; should her niece-in-law name the child after her, Mrs. Betsey Trotwood Copperfield will be its generous benefactor. unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), Mrs. Copperfield's baby is a boy. she names him David.

chapter two ("I Observe"): David's mother is young and beautiful. their servant, Peggotty, is old and fat. he loves them both but Peggotty provides more consistent reciprocation as his mother begins to call frequently at a neighbour's home; there she meets Mr. Murdstone. Murdstone comes to their home and, though he possesses dark whiskers and a darker countenance, takes David on an enjoyable trip to the coast. David knows not exactly what transpires but, while there, Mr. Murdstone also meets with some unscrupulous characters. meanwhile, Mrs. Copperfield plans to send David away to Yarmouth for two weeks with Peggotty.

chapter three ("I have a Change"): David and Peggotty visit Yarmouth to stay with the latter's brother. Mr. Peggotty lives in a boat beached and converted to a home with his orphaned niece (Emily) and nephew (Ham) and Mrs. Gummidge, the widow of Mr. Peggotty's fishing partner. despite Mrs. Gummidge's constant complaints, David has a wonderful time in Yarmouth. he kisses little Emily and admits that he loves her but predicts an unfortunate end for the child. on the way home, Peggotty tells him that Mrs. Copperfield married Mr. Murdstone while they were away. David is not as excited as Peggotty by the prospect of his "new Pa!".

chapter four ("I fall into Disgrace"): Mr. Murdstone's sister comes to stay with the new Mrs. Murdstone and her son. the siblings instruct David's mother in the less-than-subtle method of firmness with regard to modifying David's behaviour. made nervous by such hostility, David confuses his recitations. for this he is scolded and beaten. during his flogging, he bites Mr. Murdstone. Murdstone locks David in his room as further punishment. days later, Miss Murdstone brings David food and informs him that he will be sent away to school in the morning.

chapter five ("I am sent away from Home"): Mr. Murdstone puts David on a carriage to Yarmouth. Peggotty stops the carriage on the road to give David some money and the driver questions David about the servant, seemingly interested in the woman
romantically. at Yarmouth, David hires a carriage to London. Mr. Mell meets David at the station. they go to Mell's mother's home for the afternoon and afterward to Salem House. there David is given a placard to wear that he initially assumed was for a dog; on it is written, "Take care of him. He bites". as all the other boys are away on holiday, he and Mell work at the school in the days before the start of the next term.

chapter six ("I enlarge my Circle of Acquaintance"): the headmaster, Mr. Creakle, informs David that he is a friend of Murdstone and a ruthless and unforgiving personage.
the boys take pity on David. the leader of the boys at Salem House is J. Steerforth. David entrusts him with what's left of his money (some having been swindled from him by a waiter at a restaurant in Yarmouth) and is further taken advantage of when Steerforth uses it to buy liquor and sweets for the others. still, this guarantees David a certain degree of protection from Creakle as his daughter and Steerforth care for each other and, as such, Creakle leaves alone Steerforth and his friends.


Brian Allen said...

nothing so frumpish as last year's gambling game. i suggest more current wordsmiths like joyce, or anne rice.

Nichol Caddingham said...

frumpish? seriously, that's the best you could come up with?

in future, might I recommend

Anonymous said...

I personally enjoy Charles Dickens' novels and I am currently working my way through David Copperfield although with the amount of coursework I have it has been pushed to the back-burner. This is a good summary though.