Is David Copperfield realistic fiction, fantasy, or science fiction?  

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

David Copperfield is realistic fiction, because the events could happen in real life.

Fantasy usually involves magic, and science fiction uses technology we do not really have yet.  Realistic fiction tells about events that could easily happen in our world.  This book takes place in the past, because it was written in Victorian England.  The story is about a boy who loses both of his parents, suffers abuse at his stepfather’s hand, is sent away to school, and finally ends up living with an aunt.  It tells the story of David’s life, from childhood to adulthood.

One of the themes of the book is the mistreatment of children.  Young David is mistreated by his stepfather after his mother remarries.  She is weak, and cannot protect him against her domineering husband and his mother.  They are emotionally abusive of both of them and physically abusive of David.

'Mr. Murdstone! Sir!' I cried to him. 'Don't! Pray don't beat me! I have tried to learn, sir, but I can't learn while you and Miss Murdstone are by. I can't indeed!'

'Can't you, indeed, David?' he said. 'We'll try that.' (Ch. 4)

David is sent off to school.  This is another favorite topic of Dickens, because the school teaches the boys hardly anything and mistreats them terribly.  Until David is with Betsy Trotwood he is not loved.  She is his great-aunt.

David falls in love with Dora Spenlow, a beautiful but timid and useless girl.  She dies in childbirth, and eventually he marries Agnes, who is a stronger woman and generally better for him.  David therefore is happy in the end. 

The book is considered semi-autobiographical, but was written when Dickens was still young.  It has an overall youthful and naïve outlook on life.  Everyone ends up happy.  David’s first wife is just a pretty little thing who has no real substance, but she dies and he is able to marry someone who can be a good wife to him.