Charles Dickens once said of all his books, David Copperfield was his favorite. I had to read it just for that reason.
It’s known as one of his most autobiographical novels. The story travels through the main character’s life from childhood into adulthood while showing the choices he makes and the ramifications of those choices.
It’s the story of a relatively normal life in early 1800s England and because of that we get to be immersed in all the sights and sounds and expectations of the time.
The best part of his life turns out to be the people he chooses to spend it with. All kinds of characters appear and disappear and then appear again. They truly color his life and make it worth living.
From the eccentric aunt who yells out, “Donkeys!” whenever a donkey dares to wander into her yard to Mr. Micawber, who distributes IOUs as if they were real money, to the infamous Uriah Heep, who’s always described as slimy, the characters bring so much to the novel and the reader never knows when they’re going to appear. Whenever I’d start to get a little bored with the story, another character would wander back in and I’d be entertained again.
David Copperfield was first published in 1850 and the story takes place from the 1820s on. In some ways, it was ahead of its time, mostly because Aunt Betsey Trotwood speaks out against the way women and children were treated. I loved that character’s spunk.
She takes care of Mr. Dick, who has been working on a speech for years and makes kites out of his drafts because his obsession with King Charles the First keeps slipping in. He flies the kites as a way of diffusing the words and clearing his mind.
And then there’s Uriah Heep. He’s one of those people you love to hate and he’s described perfectly with passages like this:
“His damp cold hand felt so like a frog in mine that I was tempted to drop it and run away.”
“I found Uriah reading a great fat book, with such demonstrative attention, that his lank forefinger followed up every line as he read, and made clammy tracks along the page (or so I fully believed) like a snail.”
I think my favorite Dickens novel is still A Tale of Two Cities because it’s more story oriented, but the characters in David Copperfield have stayed with me long after reading it. Recommended to anyone who wants to spend time with some memorable characters.
Have you encountered any memorable characters lately? What made them memorable?