Friday, September 21, 2012

Classic Book Review: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was one of my very first introductions to children's classics, and is one of my favourite authors of all times. 

David Copperfield was one book, which had pained my young heart a lot.David is my favourite child too, I still envision him, coping with life. 


David Copperfield is the story of a young man’s adventures on his journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist. Among the gloriously vivid cast of characters he encounters are his tyrannical stepfather, Mr. Murdstone; his formidable aunt, Betsey Trotwood; the eternally humble yet treacherous Uriah Heep; frivolous, enchanting Dora; and the magnificently impecunious Micawber, one of literature’s great comic creations.

In David Copperfield—the novel he described as his “favorite child”—Dickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create one of his most exuberant and enduringly popular works, filled with tragedy and comedy in equal measure.

My review

I'd read about David, when I was 7. For a seven year old, the idea of a step-father is the most traumatic! I remember insisting on sleeping with my parents that night, fearing I might lose them. 

"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show."

When you read these lines at the very beginning of a story, your anticipation increases manifolds, so did mine!

“I am a fond parent to every child of my fancy, and that no one can ever love that family as dearly as I love them. But, like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield,” voiced the great Dickens about his novel published as part of a series in the 1800s.
Every character, starting from David to his widowed mother Carla, nurse Peggoty, her brother Mr Peggoty, coachman Mr Barks, David's aunt Betsey Trotwood, step father Edward Murdstone and his wicked sister Jane, Wilkins Micawber, the Wickfields, Uriah Heep and a host of other people were so clearly and well defined that two decades later, I remember them just the same.

Edward Murdstone, David's step father was the main antagonist in the first half of the story, depicting the earlier years of the young man. In the second half, where David is a grown up, Uriah Heap who is first the secretary and then partner to Mr Wickfield, plays the main antagonist. Both characters were so evil, I would rank them amongst few of the best villians I've read.

One part of the story I still remember was when Peggoty had told David that she suspects Miss Murdstone sleeps with one eye open. David took it literally and tried doing so, and funnily, so did I! As a seven year old, I have lived life with David, grown up with him, cried for him and been happy for him. 

Before my mother introduced me to each classic, she would give me a brief about it, in her words, so that I had a fair idea of what was in store for me. I remember she had told me Dickens had based this book on his own life. Till date, I envision Dickens as David, and my heart cries for the little boy.

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