He is the hero of the novel which deals with his life from the time of his birth to the years of his maturity and his rise to fame as a writer. Dickens has put much of himself into his portrayal of David Copperfield. The novel gives us a vivid account of the ill-treatment of David by his step-father and his step-father’s sister; of David ‘s life, first at Salem House, and then at Dr. Strong’s school; of his long journey from London to Dover in order to take refuge in the house of his great-aunț; of his love for Dora and his marriage to her; of his rise to fame as an author, and of his marriage to Agnes sometime after the death of Dora.
Mr. Murdstone :
He is David Copperfield’s step-father. His treatment of David is most cruel. Indeed, he shows himself to be a sadist. (A sadist is a man who takes pleasure in inflicting cruelty upon others). Later, when David’s mother has died, Mr. Murdstone marries another woman who brings him a rich dowry but who is also treated by him with the same sternness with which he had treated David’s mother.
She is Mr. Murdstone’s elder sister who remains a spinster. She is even more hard-hearted than her brother. Considering that she is a woman, her ill-treatment of David shocks us greatly. She too is a sadist.
Miss Betsy Trotwood:
She is David’s great-aunt, though David mostly refers to her as his aunt. We meet her in the very first chapter where she is described as a “formidable” woman. She had got married but, being unhappy in her married life, she separated from her husband after giving him sufficient money to compensate him for her leaving him. Subsequently, her husband keeps blackmailing her and extorting money from her. She proves extremely helpful and kind to David in David’s misfortune. Although seemingly stern, she is essentially a kind-hearted woman. There is also something comic about her behavior as, for instance, in her becoming furious every time she sees any donkeys treading upon the patch of green in front of her cottage.
Miss Dora Spenlow:
She is the daughter of Mr. Spenlow of the firm called “Messrs. Spenlow and Jorkins”. She is a beautiful girl with whom David Copperfield falls madly in love at first sight. He is lucky enough to get a favorable response from her and, after going through a period of hope and hopelessness, he is able ultimately to win her as his wife. However, her inexperience and her ignorance make David’s conjugal life unhappy. After less than two years of her married life, Dora dies; and David experiences profound grief as a result of this bereavement.
Miss Agnes Wickfield:
She is the daughter of a lawyer by the name of Mr. Wickfield who is living in Canterbury. She is a very gentle and kind-hearted girl. David is greatly attracted by her charm and her amiable disposition at the very outset. She always treats David with great affection, and always gives him sound advice in his personal affairs. He begins to regard her as his “good angel”. He also treats his relationship with her as one between a brother and a sister. However, after Dora’s death, David begins to love her in a different way, and eventually, he marries her. She tells him that she had been in love with him from the very start of their acquaintance.
Mr. and Mrs. Micawber:
Mr. Micawber is one of the most famous characters in English fiction. He is always in debt; and, when harassed by his creditors, he becomes most gloomy. But he has a very flexible nature. As soon as the creditors have gone away, he begins to feel most cheerful. He is a great optimist who is always “waiting for something to turn up”. We feel greatly amused by his grandiloquent manner of speaking. His wife resembles him greatly in respect of nature and disposition. She too has a flexible nature. She also feels very sad when faced with financial stringency, and she too becomes most cheerful when there are no creditors to disturb her peace of mind. She too speaks and writes in an inflated style. Furthermore, she amuses us greatly by the highly exaggerated opinion she has formed of her husband’s abilities and potentialities. Both Mr. and Mrs. Micawber is famous as comic characters.
He is a clerk working in Mr. Wickfield’s office. He always speaks of himself as a “humble” person, and he also refers to his old mother as being humble. And yet this humble person proves to be a villain. He manipulates Mr. Wickfield’s accounts and, by means of his cunning, is able to acquire a great hold upon Mr. Wickfield who has become a nervous wreck on account of his drinking habits. Uriah Heep then manages to become a partner of Mr. Wickfield and even begins to dream of marrying Mr. Wickfield’s daughter Agnes. However, he meets his downfall when Mr. Micawber denounces him and exposes his frauds and forgeries. Towards the end of the novel, we find Uriah Heep as a prisoner in a jail.