Charles Dicken's David Copperfield is an introspective novel about the journey of David from boyhood to adulthood. David learns and grows as he meets different people and encounters a myriad of different experiences. He is an orphan before he is ten years old. Every different place David lives makes a distinct impression on his life and every adult he encounters in his childhood becomes like a surrogate parent. Although he has lived many different lifestyles, the intrinsic David never really changes. He is born, he grows up, and he experiences many different things. This makes him grow and learn, but his character doesn't change from "good" to "bad" or vice versa. The persona, the conscience, that is David never really changes.
David begins his journey though life without a father, and mother who is more like a doll than a parent. The person who really influences and inspires him at this time in his life is his nurse Peggotty. Because she is such a good and honest being, and because David's mother is such an innocent, he learns gentility early on. It has been proven that a child is most receptive to learning in the first five years of his life, and in David's case this was entirely a good happenstance, as he was brought up by gentlewomen who had nothing but love for him and his best interests at heart. It is in his best interests that his mother remarries. His mother was obviously ashamed, or at least embarrassed of their union, as she married the man behind David's back as he and Peggotty were visiting some of Peggotty's family in Yarmouth. Mr. Murdstone, the man who seduces her into marrying him, is a demon of a man who wants nothing more than Clara Copperfield's money and property.
Mr. Murdstone, and his sister Miss Murdstone. Their name says it all, really. The black oppressiveness that comes over the novel when their characters arrive is felt by all readers. The Murdstones are very hateable characters. Young as David is, he knows that there is something wrong with them. When David bites Mr. Murdstone out of fear of being beaten, Mr. Murdstone uses that as an excuse to beat him to a pulp, and then send him away to school. This negative influence draws up hatred in David, which he had never felt previously. Mr. Murdstone's character shows David how not to be.
The influential characters that mould David arrive at critical periods in his life. At Salem house, the boarding school David is sent to, David meets two of the best friends he'll ever have, Traddles and Steerforth. For example when Traddles puts David's mind to rest about the sign he is forced to wear around his neck, David is much relieved, and grateful. David looks up to Steerforth, and admires him because although David is much younger than him, Steerforth takes him under his wing, and helps him to easily mix with the rest of the boys. Although we find out the true nature of Steerforth much later in the novel, in the beginning he is a hero, the image which David keeps...