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David Copperfield

David Copperfield

by Charles Dickens

David Copperfield Chapter 25 Summary

Good and Bad Angels

  • David's mostly recovered from his hangover the next day when a letter arrives from Agnes.
  • Agnes makes no reference to the theater incident, but she does tell David that she is in town staying with her friends the Waterbrooks, and she would like it if David came by.
  • David feels so awkward and nervous that he writes and rewrites his reply to Agnes, but at last he agrees to pay her a call.
  • When David first catches sight of Agnes, he gets so ashamed that he cries a little bit.
  • He apologizes several times, and Agnes tells him to sit down and relax – he can trust her.
  • David calls Agnes his good angel.
  • Agnes asks if she can warn David against his bad angel?
  • David clarifies that Agnes means Steerforth.
  • Agnes agrees: she is concerned about the influence that Steerforth has over David's character.
  • David respects Agnes so much that, even though he admires Steerforth, he starts to wonder a little about him.
  • Still, David refuses to renounce Steerforth entirely. David expects that Agnes will come to love Steerforth as David does.
  • Agnes changes the subject: is David in love with anyone?
  • David tells her about Miss Dartle, though he admits it's not serious.
  • Agnes then asks if David has seen Uriah Heep.
  • David hasn't. He's surprised that Uriah Heep is in London at all, actually.
  • Agnes informs David that Uriah is in London to arrange a business partnership with Agnes's father, Mr. Wickfield.
  • David is appalled: how dare a gross little nobody like Uriah presume on Mr. Wickfield like this?
  • Apparently, Uriah has been expanding his influence over Mr. Wickfield (who, we can recall, has a serious drinking problem and is ashamed and vulnerable because of it).
  • Things came to a head when Uriah threatened to leave Mr. Wickfield's service in favor of a better position.
  • To keep Uriah on hand, since Mr. Wickfield feels so dependent on him, Mr. Wickfield offered Uriah a partnership.
  • Even so, Mr. Wickfield is clearly ashamed of this new partnership with someone who doesn't deserve it.
  • Agnes tells David that she begged Mr. Wickfield to let Uriah leave his employment.
  • She pleads with David to be friendly with Uriah, even though she knows it will be hard for him, because she doesn't want to anger Uriah in case he turns on Mr. Wickfield.
  • Just then, Agnes's hostess, Mrs. Waterbrook, walks in.
  • Most unluckily, she was at the theater when David put on such a drunken spectacle.
  • So, it takes some time for Mrs. Waterbrook to warm up to David.
  • But eventually she does: Mrs. Waterbrook invites David to dinner the next day.
  • At the party are two relatives of the Waterbrooks (Mr. and Mrs. Henry Spiker), Uriah Heep, and Tommy Traddles!
  • Yes, it is indeed the amiable skeleton-artist from Salem House.
  • David asks his host, Mr. Waterbrook, if that is Tommy Traddles; Mr. Waterbrook agrees that it is, and that Traddles is a good fellow.
  • Traddles is apparently also reading for the bar – i.e., he's studying to be a lawyer.
  • But Mr. Waterbrook adds mysteriously that Traddles always seems to be standing in his own way, though he is very clever. Mr. Waterbrook thinks Traddles will never be truly successful.
  • Sadly, David isn't seated near Traddles at dinner, so he can't catch up directly.
  • The dinner conversation is also exceedingly boring: the Waterbrooks keep saying that the most important thing in a person is the fineness of their blood.
  • And Mr. Gulpidge and Mr. Spiker fall into a completely incomprehensible, self-important dialogue in which they call everyone involved by their initials because their names are too important to be spoken at a common dinner-party. (But if that's true, why bring them up at all? Stuck-up, smug d-bags!)
  • At last, David manages to get away, and to introduce Traddles to Agnes.
  • Traddles has to go away on a business trip, but they promise to catch up later.
  • Uriah Heep keeps hovering near David.
  • David remembers Agnes's plea to him to be nice to Uriah, so he invites Uriah over for coffee.
  • Uriah comments on how odd it is that David is now serving him coffee – how Uriah's life has changed!
  • The creepy guy asks if David has heard of his new promotion.
  • Uriah compliments David on his powers of prediction, since David himself asked Uriah once if he was going to be Mr. Wickfield's partner.
  • David is having a tough time hiding his loathing for Uriah.
  • Uriah tells David that Mr. Wickfield has not been wise in his business dealings.
  • Mr. Wickfield would've been ruined if it weren't for 'umble Uriah helping him out.
  • Uriah then confesses to David that he has, for many years, been in love with Agnes.
  • David is so filled with rage that, for a second, he thinks of running Uriah through with a hot poker.
  • He asks if Uriah has told Agnes his feelings.
  • No, he hasn't – but Uriah expects that Agnes has noticed how useful he is being to her father ... In other words, Uriah implies to David that he expects that Agnes will agree to marry him out of pity and concern for his power over her father.
  • Uriah comes out point blank to ask David to keep Uriah's feelings for Agnes a secret. Uriah's biding his time for a bit longer before he asks her to marry him.
  • It's gotten late enough that Uriah can't go back to his hotel, which is already shut up for the night.
  • David has no choice but to let this loathsome creature sleep on his sofa for the night.
  • So, Uriah curls up on David's couch, and David tosses and turns the whole night trying to come up with schemes to save Agnes.
  • David keeps thinking again and again that he should just stab Uriah with the poker and have done.
  • When he sees Uriah the next morning, he realizes that Uriah looks even worse in person than he does in memory.
  • After Uriah leaves, David tells Mrs. Crupp to leave all of his windows open so that he can air out his rooms and clean them of Uriah.

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