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Analysis

Literary Devices in David Copperfield

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

When David arrives at Salem House, on orders from Mr. Creakle, Mr. Mell immediately attaches a sign to David's back: "Take care of him. He bites." (By the way, in this case, "Take care of him" defi...

Setting

The setting of David Copperfield is almost like another character; in fact, we talk in more detail about the ways in which setting and location become tools for character development in our section...

Narrator Point of View

As you might gather from the title, David Copperfield is the hero of our novel. But he's not only our hero and central character. He's also our narrator. David is looking back on the events of his...

Genre

The genre question is pretty easy with David Copperfield – this is not surrealist experimental fiction. What we have here is a classic coming-of-age story, as we watch David grow from a boy t...

Tone

There's no better way to talk about tone than to look at an example from the text. So, let's get right to it! Here's a lovely chunk of dialogue and commentary that comes from Chapter 39, "Wickfield...

Writing Style

We've mentioned that the tone of David Copperfield is often melodramatic and emotional, but the language of the novel is actually pretty realistic. There's a lot of dense description of the setting...

What's Up With the Title?

Even though David Copperfield was first published under the title, The Personal History, Adventures, Experience, and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He N...

What's Up With the Ending?

Even though David Copperfield focuses on, well, David Copperfield, it also provides a broad cross-section of mid-nineteenth century English life. David's adventures take him through many segments o...

Tough-o-Meter

This novel was written for a wide audience in the nineteenth century, so the language – while old-fashioned – is pretty straightforward. If we were going on words alone, we'd probably g...

Plot Analysis

Obviously, David Copperfield is about much more than just David Copperfield. There are a lot of characters whose development follows the classic plot trajectory from initial situation through to co...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Rags to Riches

Any rags-to-riches story has to start with the rags, right? This section of the plot basically includes the first 10-odd chapters of David Copperfield, when David is forced to suffer at the hands o...

Three Act Plot Analysis

David starts out his life by being born. Which seems reasonable. His mother is a widow of about 20; she is mostly alone in the world. The only person who supports her is her housekeeper, Peggotty....

Trivia

Dickens's interest in fallen women (women like Emily and Martha, who were social outcasts for being sexually active outside of marriage) wasn't just academic or fictional. Together with his good bu...

Steaminess Rating

Dude, there is so little sex in this novel that poor Emily gets turfed out of English society for daring to have any (outside of marriage, at least). At the same time, there are implications that h...

Allusions

The Adventures of Roderick Random, Tobias Smollett (4.88, 5.3, 11.57, 30.12)Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes (4.88)Gil Blas, Alain-René Lesage (4.88, 7.26)Arabian Nights (4.88, 7.19, [the Sult...
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