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David Copperfield

David Copperfield

by Charles Dickens

David Copperfield Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Suffering

There's plenty of suffering in David Copperfield, from David's abuse at the hands of Mr. Murdstone to Doctor Strong's sorrow at the thought that his young wife is cheating on him. Suffering affects...

Poverty

Obviously poverty is bad. It's poverty that leaves David isolated and without a future as a child laborer in London. And in David Copperfield, charitable institutions are bad. It's a charitable sch...

Youth

David Copperfield is a story of the narrator's youth, as he's struggling to find a place to belong in an often changing, not always welcoming English middle-class society. Still, even though this i...

Society and Class

There are two kinds of society that David Copperfield seems to be concerned with. The first is society, like human community. This is the kind of society that rejects Emily for running away from Ha...

Guilt and Blame

Something that's interesting about guilt and blame in David Copperfield is that they don't have a lot to do with good and evil. David feels wicked after being beaten by Mr. Murdstone. Mrs. Strong f...

Family

We described David Copperfield as a "rags-to-riches" story in our plot analyses, which implies that David Copperfield's success is going to be all about the money. Not so! We think that, arguably,...

Education

David Copperfield is a classic Bildungsroman – a novel of education. School is only one of many avenues for education available to David. Indeed, many of his most productive sites of educatio...

Gender

We'll give Dickens this much: for his time, he's got a relatively enlightened view of women cast out of society for being sexually active outside of marriage (fallen women, in the words of his day)...

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