Charles Dickens Essay

1579 words - 6 pages

Essay on Charles Dickens's David CopperfieldIn 1849, Dickens began to write David Copperfield, a novel based on his early life experiences.David Copperfield is the common name of the eighth novel by Charles Dickens, first published as a novel in 1850. It was also first published under the title The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery. It is hardly ever called by its full name. This isn't only because the original title is so long, but also because David Copperfield is one of many nineteenth century novels that focus on the life and times of one character. What's really important about this title is that it tells us who the hero of the novel is: David Copperfield. In the preface to the 1867 edition, Dickens wrote, "...like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield. Many critics consider the novel to be one of his best depictions of childhood.Even though the novel is an autobiographical novel, it differs from Charles Dickens's own life in some key ways. Dickens had a really painful early life. His father was thrown into debtors prison in 1822 in London, and young Dickens was sent to work at a blacking factory (where boot polish is bottled and labeled for sale) when he was ten years old. In 1824, tiny Dickens was rescued from the factory and sent to the Wellington Academy in North London, but the school was abusive and awful, and he left in 1826 at the age of 14. Dickens went on to work as a law clerk and then journalist, slowly clawing his way to fame and fortune (source: "Introduction" to David Copperfield. Edited by E.K. Brown. New York: Random House Modern Library College Editions, 1950). Like Dickens, David works as a child, pasting labels onto bottles. David also becomes first a law clerk, then a reporter, and finally a successful novelist. Mr. Micawber is a satirical version of Dickens's father, a likable man who can never scrape together the money he needs. Many of the secondary characters spring from Dickens's experiences as a young man in financial distress in London. However, Dickens' actual love life and marriage was quite different from what David Copperfield experiences. Dickens divorced his wife, Catherine Hogarth, in 1858.As the title of the first chapter announces, "I Am Born." The beginning of the novel starts where any really complete account of someone's life begins, at the main character's birth. David is born to a young widow, Mrs. Copperfield. Already in the first chapter, we can see that David has been born into a fractured family. His father has died and his great-aunt refuses to be his godmother because David is a boy instead of a girl. And his mother is childlike and easily wounded: not a strong parent figure. David's family life starts out a little precarious, but things don't really get wonky until a dark-haired, handsome, stern gentleman enters his mother's life. This is Mr. Murdstone,...

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