Treatment of Children in David Copperfield

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  • Topic: David Copperfield, Betsey Trotwood, Edward Murdstone
  • Pages : 7 (2617 words )
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  • Published : April 26, 2006
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"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show". That`s how Dickens define his book. David Copperfield tells the story of a child who loses his father and has to assume responsibilities earlier. Also, it shows the child's treatment by different adults; From Peggotty, who is a lovely woman with David to Jane Murdstone, whose extreme dislike of kids. The book is written in first person because is an autobiography of Dickens, who had a very similar life history: His father went to debtor's prision and he started to work when he was twelve years old. Dickens wanted to stop the unfair treatment of children and he thought that writing a book, a lot of people would know what was going on. He became very popular because he wrote from his own experience and reflected everyday life in understandable ways and employed social criticism.

Dickens decided to wrote about children and the poor mainly because of the increase in London's population, comed by the Industrial Revolution. It expanded job opportunities in the metropolis but did not bring only good things though. An increase in residents of London meant more orphans and poverty, while factories demanded workers and were easier to young children and women to get a job because their wage-levels were lower. So, he grew up seeing childhood misery around him and his heart bled for them. He felt pity about the exploitation and prostitution of kids and he wanted to do something to stop their suffering. Children were the main victims because they were young, confused, weak, vulnerabled, defenseless. He was angry about the conditions of society which had a lot of disease such as cholera and typhoid; poverty, mainly because of the Industrial Revolution; noise; bad housing, as they were poor payed; poor sanitation; crime and the city was overcrowded, with a increased from 1 to 3 million residents. There was also the problem about public education as in many areas of England there was no state-funded schooling available so many lower-middle class children either went without schooling or went to Dame or evening schools. This was the situation during his time, and that's why he wrote about it.

The first adult impact on David is the loss of his father so he has no male figure to guide him which he expresses regret over; His mother only idolizes him. He also becomes more emotional, as he only has female influences. He shows his confusion and loneliness declaring, "I was a posthumous child. There is something strange to me, even now, in the reflection that he never saw me; I used to feel for it lying out alone there in the dark night". Clara wants David to have a father to protect him. Also, the fact of having no father on the family, bring them lots of financial problems, and Clara says, "Mr. Copperfield was so considerate and good as to secure the reversion of a part of it to Clara. A hundred and five pounds a year."

The initial truly positive adult influence on his life is his mother Clara, who is a young, beautiful and traditional mother, who believes that all the family's decisions have to be man's responsibility. This becomes very clear in the first chapter, when she affirms to Miss Betsey "We thought – Mr. Copperfield thought – it was quite a large rookery". Clara is weak, spoiled, innocent, immature, repressed and we can also see that she easily get hurt when he tells, "My mother shedding more tears than before" but she is the only protector of David, although she always avoid confrontation, being more of a child than a mother. When her husband dies, she feels very alone, because she only has Peggotty to help her, "We were very happy, Mr. Copperfield was only too good to me" claims Clara feeling very sad and single-handedly after her husband died. She was also in a difficult social position and wanted a protection for David. Clara gets married again because the family has no money at all. That...
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