Study Guide

David Copperfield Chapter 24

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 24

My First Dissipation

  • Now that David's off living like a real adult on his own, he's feeling very grand.
  • At the same time, it's kind of lonely – he doesn't have a particularly tight relationship with Mrs. Crupp, and he misses Agnes.
  • David goes over to Highgate, to Mrs. Steerforth's house, to see if Steerforth is around. But he's not – he's hanging out with his Oxford friends.
  • Mrs. Steerforth asks David to dinner, and he is so pleased to have company again that he starts to fall for Miss Dartle a little bit.
  • The next day, Steerforth surprises David with a visit at Mrs. Crupp's.
  • David is overjoyed, and invites Steerforth to dinner.
  • Steerforth can't: he's got plans with these two Oxford friends of his.
  • David suggests that Steerforth bring the two Oxfordians along.
  • Steerforth agrees, and David makes arrangements with Mrs. Crupp for dinner for four.
  • Once Steerforth and his two friends, Grainger and Markham, arrive, David's excited to have them but also a bit nervous – he feels very young and unprepared for a dinner party.
  • Luckily, Steerforth steps up and plays host (at David's table).
  • David gets very, very drunk very, very quickly.
  • There's a lot of singing and laughter and smoking and confusion.
  • Eventually, someone suggests that they should all go to the theater.
  • Steerforth asks if David is all right, to which David replies, "Neverberrer" (24.36). David is very drunk indeed.
  • At the theater, David is stumbling all around the audience and making noise. The other playgoers shush him, but he keeps making a scene.
  • Suddenly, David spots Agnes sitting in a private box. She looks embarrassed and ashamed of David, and tells him to be quiet and watch the play.
  • Agnes tells David that she is absolutely serious: David has to go away and tell his friends to take him home.
  • Even though David is annoyed that Agnes is being mean to him, he respects her enough that he does, in fact, go away.
  • Steerforth follows David and helps him into his house and into bed.
  • The next morning, David wakes up completely embarrassed about what he did the night before.
  • David is haunted by the awful sense that he has done many shameful things without being able to remember them.
  • Also, he feels incredibly sick.
  • When he sees Mrs. Crupp, he wants to confess to her that he feels very miserable, but Mrs. Crupp doesn't seem like the cozy sort of woman one confides in.

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