Mr. Dick is one of Dickens’s most eccentric and most iconic supporting characters. He appears to be related to Betsey Trotwood, to whom he is very devoted, but the exact nature of their relationship is never explained—Betsey simply introduces Mr. Dick as a “distant connexion” and says no more on the subject. He is a kind but odd man whose mental disability or illness causes others, like the brother who attempted to have him committed in an insane asylum for life, to dismiss him. Of his many oddities, the most notable is Mr. Dick’s belief that it is his life's work to write a “Memorial” (the subject of which is never mentioned), but his mission is repeatedly thwarted by his own inability to stop writing about King Charles I. Mr. Dick believes that this is the case because he took on some of Charles I’s “trouble[s]” after he was executed. Betsey Trotwood explains to David that his preoccupation with King Charles is an “allegorical” way of “expressing” his own troubles.

Mr. Dick is an important character because his backstory highlights one of the text’s central themes: the plight of the weak. Throughout David Copperfield, the powerful abuse the weak and helpless. Dickens focuses on orphans, women, and the mentally disabled to show that exploitation—not pity or compassion—is the rule in an industrial society. Shortly after a young David meets Mr. Dick for the first time, Betsey explains that Mr. Dick has been living with her ever since she liberated him from the insane asylum in which his family wished he be placed. While Mr. Dick is a predominantly comedic character, Dickens does imply that some of his eccentricities are a result of the abuse and trauma that he suffered at the hands of his family members and asylum workers/inmates. Through Mr. Dick, Dickens comments on society’s tendency to reject and mistreat the mentally ill.