David Copperfield is a bildungsroman, the story of the narrator’s life from early childhood to maturity. In it Copperfield describes the obstacles he overcame and the unhappy events he lived through before becoming a successful novelist in later years. The book is an expert blend of fiction and autobiography. While Dickens was not an orphan, he felt abandoned by his parents during the harsh experiences of his early years. David Copperfield’s father has died before his birth and his mother dies when he is twelve years old. David had led a happy life with his mother and the housekeeper Peggotty until his mother’s second marriage to Murdstone, who beats David severely and whose treatment breaks his mother’s spirit and finally causes her death. Before her death, Murdstone sends David to Salem House, a school presided over by a master as cruel as Murdstone himself. It is here, however, that David meets two lifelong friends, James Steerforth and Tommy Traddles. With his wife dead, Murdstone, who hates David, sends him to his business in London. He lodges with the amiable Micawber family. David runs away from the hated warehouse and becomes the ward of his great-aunt Betsy Trotwood, who sends him to school in Canterbury, a vast improvement over Salem House. Here he lodges with the Wickfields and is attracted to Agnes Wickfield, but dislikes Uriah Heep, her father’s obsequious clerk. He studies law under Mr. Spenlow and falls in love and marries his daughter Dora. Micawber and Traddles ultimately expose Uriah Heep as a thief, and the Micawber family immigrates to Australia. David himself eventually becomes a skilled journalist, but shortly after he finds success, his wife Dora dies. After a period of wandering, David begins his career as a popular novelist and marries Agnes.

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