David's mother Clara is a sweet and gentle creature, far too fragile for this harsh, unforgiving world. Eight years after David's father dies, his mother remarries. Unfortunately for her, and for her son, she makes a really bad choice. When David comes home after visiting Peggotty's family, he discovers that he has a new stepfather, Mr. Murdstone. Murdstone is a thoroughly nasty piece of work. He is a cold, sadistic bully who proceeds to treat his blended family like dirt. As well as beating poor David at the drop of a hat, Murdstone and his equally disgusting brood take full advantage of Clara's trusting nature, subjecting her to a campaign of psychological abuse and intimidation. Before long, the Murdstones have taken over control of the household, and Clara effectively becomes a stranger in her own home.