The protagonist and narrator of the novel. David
is innocent, trusting, and naïve even though he suffers abuse as
a child. He is idealistic and impulsive and remains honest and loving.
Though David’s troubled childhood renders him sympathetic, he is
not perfect. He often exhibits chauvinistic attitudes toward the
lower classes. In some instances, foolhardy decisions mar David’s
in-depth analysis of David Copperfield.
David’s true love and second wife, the daughter of
Mr. Wickfield. The calm and gentle Agnes admires her father and
David. She suffers patiently through David’s other romances, and
although she loves David, she is not overcome by jealousy. Agnes
always comforts David with kind words or advice when he needs support.
A condescending, self-centered villain. From his boyhood,
Steerforth possesses a restless energy that he can neither satisfy
nor divert. He charms both women and men for the feeling of power
it gives him. He also abuses David, although David is too enraptured
with him and too grateful for his patronage to notice.
in-depth analysis of James Steerforth.
nanny and caretaker. Peggotty is gentle and selfless, opening herself
and her family to David whenever he is in need. She is faithful
to David and his family all her life, never abandoning David, his
mother, or Miss Betsey. In her kind motherliness, Peggotty contrasts
with the cruel and unloving Miss Murdstone.
unfaithful niece, who is sweet but also coy and vain. Little Em’ly’s
desire to be a lady causes her to disgrace herself by running away
from her family.
two-faced, conniving villain who puts on a false show of humility
and meekness to disguise his evil intentions. Uriah is motivated
by his belief that the world owes him something for all the humiliations
he suffered as a young man. Ultimately, Uriah’s veneer of humility
proves as empty as his morals.
in-depth analysis of Uriah Heep.
Miss Betsey Trotwood
David’s eccentric, kind-hearted aunt. Although Miss
Betsey’s intentions are mysterious at the beginning of the novel,
her generosity toward David soon becomes clear, and she acts as
David’s second mother.
first wife and first real love. Dora is foolish and giddy, more
interested in playing with her dog, Jip, than in keeping house with
David. Because David cannot bear to displease Dora, he permits her
to retain the pouty habits of a spoiled child.
Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins Micawber
An unlucky couple crippled by constantly precarious
finances. Although Mr. Micawber never succeeds at supporting his
own family, he is generous and industrious in serving others. Mrs. Micawber
stands by her husband despite his flaws and regardless of the hardships
David’s simple, goodhearted schoolmate. Traddles works hard but
faces great obstacles because of his lack of money and connections.
He eventually succeeds in making a name and a career for himself.
David’s mother. The kind, generous, and goodhearted
Clara embodies maternal caring until her death, which occurs early
in the novel. David remembers his mother as an angel whose independent spirit
was destroyed by Mr. Murdstone’s cruelty.
Mr. Edward Murdstone and Miss Jane Murdstone
The cruel second husband of David’s mother, and
Murdstone’s sister. The Murdstones are strict and brutal not only toward
David, but to his mother as well. Together, they crush David’s mother’s
Mrs. Steerforth and Rosa Dartle
Steerforth’s mother and her ward, the orphan child
of her husband’s cousin. Mrs. Steerforth and Miss Dartle are cruel
and bitter toward the world and also haughty and proud, as evidenced
by their overwhelming fondness for Steerforth and their disdain
Mr. Peggotty, Ham, and Mrs. Gummidge
The simple relatives of David’s nurse, Clara Peggotty.
Mr. Peggotty, Ham, and Mrs. Gummidge represent the virtues of simple people.
Mr. Peggotty and Ham are sailors, Mrs. Gummidge a sailor’s widow.
They are devoted and loving to each other and David.
Doctor Strong and Annie Strong
A man and woman who exemplify the best of married
life. Doctor Strong and Annie are faithful and selfless, each concerned
more about the other than about himself or herself. Their deep love
for each other enables them to survive Uriah’s attempts to disrupt
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