Study Guide

David Copperfield Chapter 42

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 42


  • David tells us that he could never have succeeded in the world without his commitment to punctuality and determination.
  • He learned much of this dedication from Agnes.
  • Speaking of Agnes, she comes to visit Doctor Strong for two weeks with Mr. Wickfield
  • Mrs. Heep goes along, too, because she needs a rest cure. And who should accompany her, but her faithful son, Uriah Heep.
  • Uriah Heep makes David go on a walk with him in Doctor Strong's garden.
  • Uriah tells David that he is jealous of someone – a female someone.
  • Apparently, back when he was a clerk, Mrs. Annie Strong never paid any attention to Uriah Heep.
  • She would come to the house to visit Agnes, and she would bring Agnes to visit her.
  • Uriah Heep was below Annie's notice, and he was also below the notice of Mr. Jack Maldon.
  • Suddenly, David's heart falls: he remembers all of his old suspicions of Annie and her cousin.
  • David tries to hide his misgivings in front of Uriah Heep, though.
  • Uriah Heep continues: because of Annie's behavior, he wants to put a stop to Annie's friendship with Agnes.
  • Uriah Heep refuses to "allow people in [his] way" (42.30).
  • David is confused about what Uriah's going to do next, but he can't stand to be around him anymore, so he leaves Uriah in the garden laughing.
  • The next evening, David takes Agnes to meet Dora at the Misses Spenlows' house.
  • Dora is afraid of Agnes, and (as usual) she hides from her.
  • Once she finally comes out to meet Agnes, she is pleased to see that Agnes looks cheerful and thoughtful.
  • Dora hugs Agnes.
  • David is glad to see that the two women like each other.
  • Miss Lavinia and Miss Clarissa also seem pleased by the friendship.
  • Everyone at the house loves Agnes: Dora, Miss Lavinia, Miss Clarissa, and even Jip.
  • Dora is glad to have a new friend, now that Miss Mills has left for India.
  • When Agnes goes out of the room for a bit, Dora wonders why David ever fell in love with her, when he had someone like Agnes around.
  • When Agnes goes back to Doctor Strong's house with David, she tells David that Dora is "a poor angel" but "faithful" (42.64).
  • David asks if Agnes's home situation has gotten any better. It hasn't.
  • In fact, Agnes thinks she won't come to London any time soon because she has to stick close to her father.
  • Agnes promises to write to Dora often.
  • David sees Doctor Strong's study light on, and decides to go and ask him if he's working on his dictionary late at night.
  • But what he finds is Uriah Heep, standing next to the Doctor's desk. Doctor Strong is also there, as is Mr. Wickfield.
  • Uriah Heep is telling Doctor Strong that they can keep it a secret from the townspeople.
  • Heep spots David, and tells him that he's been talking to Doctor Strong about a matter David doesn't understand.
  • David goes over to Doctor Strong and tries to comfort him.
  • Uriah Heep insists on spelling it out: he's just told Doctor Strong about the "goings-on" (42.86) of Annie.
  • Heep demands that Mr. Wickfield confirm Uriah's suspicions that Annie and Mr. Jack Maldon have been carrying on an affair.
  • Mr. Wickfield protests that Doctor Strong shouldn't believe Mr. Wickfield's old suspicions. Mr. Wickfield apologizes for his doubts.
  • The thing is, Mr. Wickfield thought Doctor Strong had doubts about his wife and her cousin. That's why he thought Doctor Strong wanted to send Mr. Jack Maldon all the way to India.
  • Doctor Strong had no doubts at all – he just thought he was making his wife happy by giving her cousin a job.
  • Mr. Wickfield apologizes to Doctor Strong for his suspicions, and begs his forgiveness for telling them to Doctor Strong like this.
  • Uriah Heep is obviously enjoying all of this. He points to David and says that David, too, has been having his doubts.
  • Doctor Strong looks at David, and David remembers all of his moments doubting Annie.
  • The Doctor tells them that he has been in the wrong, that he must have pulled Annie into an unhappy marriage.
  • He now sees how natural it is for such a young, lively woman to miss the close companion of her youth.
  • Doctor Strong decides that he will never reproach Annie with any suspicions, nor will he allow other people in society to do so.
  • Instead, Strong is going to retire from public life. And once he dies (which he thinks will be soon), Annie will be free to do what she wants.
  • The Doctor asks Mr. Wickfield, David, and Uriah Heep to keep their conversation this evening a secret.
  • Doctor Strong leaves the room with Mr. Wickfield.
  • Uriah Heep turns to David and admits that he didn't expect Doctor Strong to behave this way.
  • David calls Uriah Heep a villain and slaps him on the face.
  • Uriah Heep asks if David has gone crazy.
  • David says he won't have another thing to do with Uriah Heep.
  • Uriah replies that he knows David has never liked him, but it doesn't matter – David won't be able to help associating with Uriah Heep. Heep refuses to let David drop him.
  • David walks straight out of the house, but Heep follows him.
  • Uriah mocks David: David may try to make himself seem like the hero of this adventure, but he hasn't achieved anything, and he hit a man without being provoked.
  • He tells David he won't tell another living soul about David's behavior, which makes David feel even guiltier.
  • When David comes down the next morning, he sees Uriah Heep walking with Mrs. Heep.
  • Uriah Heep greets him as though nothing has happened.
  • Doctor Strong avoids company for the rest of the Wickfields' visit.
  • Strong eventually asks David to come back to his secretarial duties, but only as long as he never refers to Uriah Heep's doubts.
  • David thinks that Annie had no idea – at that point – of Doctor Strong's suspicions.
  • It's not for several weeks that she starts to change.
  • Annie grows more and more unhappy.
  • Even though Annie's mother, Mrs. Markleham, comes often to the house, she never notices Annie's emotional state.
  • Doctor Strong continues to be sweet-tempered and kind to Annie, even though he is looking older.
  • Strong comes up with lots of ways to amuse Annie out of the house with her mother, but Annie never seems to enjoy these excursions.
  • No one knows what to think, neither David nor Miss Betsey (who also knows the whole story).
  • The only one who manages to cheer up the situation is Mr. Dick.
  • When David was still at school in Canterbury, Mr. Dick loved to walk around Doctor Strong's garden when he came to visit David during the week.
  • Now that Doctor Strong has come to London, Mr. Dick has started taking regular walks with Doctor Strong again.
  • When Doctor Strong is busy with David, Mr. Dick walks with Annie and helps her in the garden.
  • Because both of them like him, Mr. Dick has become a link between Doctor Strong and Annie.
  • David is a bit ashamed that, for all that Mr. Dick is a bit mad, he is still much more useful than David in helping the Strongs.
  • Miss Betsey continues to be very proud of Mr. Dick.
  • One more thing: David noticed that, during Uriah Heep's visit to Doctor Strong's house, Uriah Heep received many letters from his clerk, Mr. Micawber.
  • Because of these letters, David had thought that Mr. Micawber was doing really well with his job.
  • This is why David is surprised to get a letter from Mrs. Micawber.
  • Mrs. Micawber asks David not to tell anyone about this letter. She needs his advice.
  • She's worried because Mr. Micawber has become secretive and reserved – Mrs. Micawber knows that something is wrong with him, but he won't tell her what.
  • Mrs. Micawber wants David to tell her what to do.
  • David has no idea, but he suggests that she just stay patient with him.
  • This letter makes David worry for Mr. Micawber.

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