Study Guide

David Copperfield Chapter 50

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 50

Mr. Peggotty's Dream Comes True

  • David doesn't hear anything from Martha Endell for several months, but she's in touch with Mr. Peggotty.
  • David thinks more and more that Emily must be dead.
  • Mr. Peggotty's faith that she's alive never changes.
  • Dora grows to like Mr. Peggotty and sees him quite often.
  • One night, Mr. Peggotty tells David that Martha has been to see him, and to ask that Mr. Peggotty absolutely not leave England.
  • Martha won't say why though.
  • David doesn't want to get Mr. Peggotty's hopes up, so he says nothing about this.
  • About two weeks later, and two days after David saw Mr. Micawber, he is walking in his garden.
  • A woman beckons him over: it is Martha Endell.
  • She asks David to come with her immediately.
  • David and Martha drive into downtown London.
  • Martha guides David down one of the dark and grungy streets to a poor lodging-house.
  • David walks up to the top story of the house.
  • In the shadows on the staircase, he can see a woman walking ahead of them.
  • Martha exclaims that she doesn't know the woman who has gone into this room.
  • David knows her, though: it's Miss Dartle.
  • Martha leads David softly up the stairs, but she indicates that he must not say anything.
  • Miss Dartle is inside telling someone that she has come to see her.
  • A voice speaks, and David recognizes it as Emily's.
  • Miss Dartle asks how Emily can show her face to Miss Dartle, after she has done so much.
  • Miss Dartle won't let Emily leave; if she tries, Miss Dartle will tell the whole world Emily's history.
  • Emily sounds frightened.
  • Miss Dartle asks how Steerforth can have fallen for such fake modesty.
  • Emily begs Miss Dartle to be merciful, because of her suffering.
  • Miss Dartle tells Emily that she can't be moved by Emily's tears. She reproaches Emily with the home Emily has ruined.
  • Emily weeps to think of the pain her uncle and her family has gone through on her behalf.
  • Miss Dartle looks down on Emily and mocks her for thinking that Miss Dartle meant Emily's family; she meant her own.
  • Emily protests: when Steerforth first came to her, she truly loved him! She believed that she would be his wife!
  • Miss Dartle threatens that, if she had her way, Emily would be whipped to death.
  • Then she mocks Emily for daring to claim that she knows how to love.
  • Miss Dartle warns Emily to hide herself among her family or to die, because Miss Dartle will hunt her down wherever Emily goes and tell everyone what kind of a creature she is.
  • David is in agony waiting for Mr. Peggotty, because he cannot bear to hear this torture.
  • Miss Dartle tells Emily that she should spend the rest of her days thinking of Steerforth's treatment of her, or of her own lost virtue – and then she should die.
  • Miss Dartle hears a footstep on the stairs and walks out the door, but not without warning Emily again of her plans.
  • Finally (thank God!) Mr. Peggotty comes in and embraces a fainting Emily.
  • Mr. Peggotty thanks God that he has finally found his darling niece.
  • He carries Emily down the stairs.

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