illustration of two young men standing in 19th century garb and looking at one another

David Copperfield

by Charles Dickens

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When did David's father die in David Copperfield? What did David's mother see outside the window that made her faint? Who was Pegoty and where did she take David to? What was David's new father's name? Why did David hate Mr. Murdstone?

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David lost his father before he was even born—six months before, and only a year after his mother had married the man. The rest of the novel David Copperfield deals with the repercussions of the man's death.

Years later, when Miss Betsey comes by their house, David's mother sees her spying through the window, as she had done many times before. Wanting to avoid the overbearing and prying woman, she hides from her before eventually being persuaded to let her in so they can discuss. The women discuss David's late husband, who is Miss Betsey's nephew, and this discussion is so emotionally draining that it causes David's mother to faint.

Pegoty, the housekeeper, later takes David to Yarmouth for several weeks while his mother is preparing to marry another man. The man who would become David's new father is named Mr. Murdstone, and he is a violent, cruel, and overbearing man whom David hates. He gives David very demanding chores and "educates" him with extremely difficult schoolwork, and if he ever fails at these tasks, Mr. Murdstone will beat him and lock him away. Fortunately, David is eventually sent away from this house of abuse.

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David's father died roughly six months before he was born.

When David's mother looks out the window, she sees Miss Betsey standing outside, peering through the window, which she had done many times before. This frightened her greatly She hid behind a chair in the living room before letting Miss Betsey in. After arguing with the woman when she is in the house, the conversation takes it toll on her, and she later faints.

Pegotty is the family's housekeeper who cares for David. She takes David to Yarmouth temporarily while the family prepares for David's mother to marry.

David's new father is named Mr. Murdstone, and he dislikes the man passionately because he is unkind, physically abusive, and uncaring towards the boy. He assigns David harsh physical labor and nearly impossible mathematical and grammatical lessons, punishing him severely when he fails in any of those areas.

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David's father passed away six months before David was born and a year after he married David's mother.

When Miss Betsey comes up to the door of David's house, she foregoes ringing the doorbell and proceeds to look in the window. David's mother had spied Miss Betsey through that same window moments before. Frightened and intimidated at such a formidable presence, David's mother hides behind the chair in the corner. Eventually, she is persuaded by Miss Betsey to open the door.

When Miss Betsey criticizes her dead nephew's choice of naming the house 'The Rookery' (seeing as how there appear to be no rooks in residence), David's mother tries to assert herself to defend her husband's decision. However, the contentious moment is a wearing one for her, and she faints.

Peggotty is the housekeeper; due to the impending marriage of David's mother to Mr Murdstone, Peggotty takes David to stay with...

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her brother at Yarmouth for two weeks.

David does not like his new father because Mr. Murdstone is unsympathetic, unkind, autocratic, and physically abusive.

A word of encouragement and explanation, of pity for my childish ignorance, of welcome home, of reassurance to me that it was home, might have made me dutiful to him in my heart henceforth, instead of in my hypocritical outside, and might have made me respect instead of hate him.

When Mr. Murdstone is not presenting David with impossible Math word problems to solve or some other equally challenging grammatical exercise, he makes sure that David is engaged in physical labor; David does not often get to play with children his own age because the 'gloomy theology of the Murdstones made all children out to be a swarm of little vipers (though there WAS a child once set in the midst of the Disciples), and held that they contaminated one another.' When David falters in his lessons one day, Mr. Murdstone beats him mercilessly and imprisons him in his room for five days. After the punishment, David is sent off to school near London.

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