Betsey Trotwood is David’s father’s aunt, and therefore his great-aunt. She is introduced to the reader in the novel’s first chapter, in which she arrives for David’s birth, hoping that he will be a girl. Irritated that he is not and unimpressed by Clara’s youthful personality, Betsey leaves in a huff and does not return to the novel for almost two hundred pages. Betsey’s introduction characterizes her as eccentric, and not, initially, in a positive way. However, it soon becomes clear as the novel progresses that she is one of the most kind-hearted characters in the text, despite her off-putting introduction and general demeanor. She doesn't hesitate to become David’s guardian after he runs away from the Murdstones, she is unwaveringly devoted to the sweet but unstable Mr. Dick, she is attentive to Dora Spenlow as she becomes increasingly ill, and she selflessly does everything in her power to ensure that David will prosper. It is important to note that Betsey’s innate goodness does not quell her stern personality. This aspect of her character is initially confusing, but her toughness begins to make sense once the reader considers her backstory. The reader learns that Betsey was married to an abusive husband in her youth, whom she has since separated from. With this information in mind, readers can assume that Betsey likely constructed her intimidating persona in order to combat a rigid society that was not kind to independent women.