Victorians! discussion

26 views
Archived Group Reads 2013 > David Copperfield Chapters 7 - 11

Comments Showing 1-16 of 16 (16 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) To discuss these chapters


message 2: by Sara (last edited Jun 12, 2013 11:02AM) (new)

Sara Weather (saraweather) Many big life events happen in this part: Davids mom and half brother die,David is taken out of school then put to work which makes him essentially on his own now, and Ms. Peggoty gets married.

I really got a chance to see a lot of characters in a different light. His best friend for starters made it able for Mr.Mell to lose his position.

I can see now that Mr.Mudstone really loved Davids mother but did not know how to bring out the best in her. He did not know how to help her get over her insecurities. Mr. Mudstone and his sister really hit on her insecurities not intentionally but the result still caused Davids mom to lose her and her babies life.

I know someone talked about thinking on your life while reading the book. I really thought about toward the ending of chapter 11 of looking at things that have happened in a second older eye view.


message 3: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Jun 12, 2013 01:40AM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) David seems quite the strong young man to be on his own somewhat at age ten. His current life is sad, somewhat lonely, and lacking companionship of children his age. The Murdstones are truly beasts, unfeeling and totally selfish. The hate they show for David is awful and one can't help but hope they get some comeuppance. I can't help but feel that the Murdstones were the primary cause of David's mother's death as well as that of the child.

Sad to read as always how such young children were forced to work in poor and improper conditions. David is such an independent sort and it holds him in good stead. Wonder if a child of today could do what poor David is forced to do? I wonder why he has not told Peggoty of his issues? Is he embarrassed or afraid to let her know?


message 4: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Fascinating contrast between views of the Murdstones.

Sara: "I can see now that Mr.Mudstone really loved Davids mother but did not know how to bring out the best in her. He did not know how to help her get over her insecurities. Mr. Mudstone and his sister really hit on her insecurities (not intentionally..."

Marialyce: "The Murdstones are truly beasts, unfeeling and totally selfish. The hate they show for David is awful..."

Is Mr. Murdstone an evil beast who is totally selfish? Or does he really love David's mother and truly believes he is doing the best for her by helping her understand proper behavior for one in her position, but is one of those people who is simply incapable of expressing love in a constructive manner?

I would love to see a healthy discussion of Mr. Murdstone, including to what extend his character reflects what society would have expected of one in his situation.


message 5: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Two things.

One: We should, perhaps, separate the Murdstones and look at them not with a single lens but as two separate people who may have very different motivations, needs, and beliefs. I have little sympathy for Miss Murdstone, but considerably more for Mr. Murdstone.

Two: Even before the marriage, when Peggoty was preparing David for his first trip with Mr. Murdstone to the seaside, she was clearly against Mr. Murdstone. I don't think we are given any background to know why she felt this way, but it seems that she was not only highly protective of Mrs. Copperfield but even was jealous of anybody who might interfere with their relationship. After the marriage she was certainly disloyal as a servant who had a responsibility to the master of the house, and it doesn't seem to me as though she wanted the marriage to succeed or wanted David's mother to be happy in her second marriage.


message 6: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Jun 12, 2013 11:14AM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I didn't see that at all, Everyman. I thought Peggoty handled herself quite well with the Murdstones and still think of them as despicable especially Miss Murdstone. There was not one kind bone in her body. She was authoritative to Mrs Copperfied, a bully perhaps is a better term to use in reference to her. Her reasons might be jealousy over her brother finding someone he cared for thereby pushing her to the back of his affections. I find her even more heinous than Mr Murdstone in fact. She was horrible to little David and even though I may be looking at it through my eyes any woman who acted the way she did to a young man who had just lost his parents was unforgivable. I can only hope that Dickens has something planned for her demise. Hopefully, it will fit her behavior and involve suffering of both the physical and mental kind.
She seemed to me to be the antithesis of what a woman is suppose to be. She was a villain to her very core.

I was none too fond of Mr Murdstone either, but feel at least he had some feelings for his wife and child. As for poor David, to send hm off to live on his own at age 10 is deplorable. I find nothing in me that can forgive their behaviors.


message 7: by Denise (last edited Jun 12, 2013 06:41PM) (new)

Denise (dulcinea3) | 400 comments Of course, this novel is highly autobiographical. Dickens himself was sent out to work at the age of 12, after his father was imprisoned in a debtor's prison (the Marshalsea, which Dickens used in Little Dorritt). Dickens worked ten hours a day, pasting labels on pots of boot blacking. According to Wikipedia, 'He later wrote that he wondered "how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age".' (quoting from John Forster's biography of Dickens)


message 8: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Marialyce wrote: "I ... still think of them as despicable especially Miss Murdstone. There was not one kind bone in ..."

It's hard to disagree about Miss Murdstone -- I wonder whether there is anybody who can make out a reasonable case in defense of her behavior. I suppose the best that can be said of her is that the way she treated David would not have been seen in her day and age as particularly cruel or unusual. And we don't know how she was brought up and how her upbringing may have warped her personality. (Oh, goodness, am I actually thinking of making a defense of her?)

As to "to send [David] off to live on his own at age 10 is deplorable. I find nothing in me that can forgive their behaviors," sending a ten year old off to boarding school was not unusual -- and even today in England there are a considerable number of boarding schools that take children even younger than that. As I know full well. When I was 11 years old, my parents planned a major trip to England. My father could only get a month's vacation, but my mother went over in spring with my sister and me, and we were put into a boarding school while she went around visiting family and getting to know England. We spent one term in the boarding school, during which time our mother never visited us (visiting by parents was highly discouraged). At the end of term my father came over and we traveled around England, Scotland, and Ireland. The point being, that there I was, "dumped" if you choose to say it in boarding school at age 11 to get me out of the way, my father not being able to care for us at home and my mother wanting to be free, and also to give us the experience of an English boarding school. I will say right away that my parents were wonderful parents, but this was a perfectly ordinary English experience at the time, and indeed my father had the same experience; he was born of missionary parents in China, and he was sent back to England to stay with relatives and to attend boarding school from, I think, the age of six or seven, and to stay with various relatives during the holidays (as were his two brothers). A quite ordinary experience; the same was done by most of the civil servants of England serving in India and the other overseas dominions of the British Empire; their children would all be sent back to English boarding schools. (During the time Dickens was writing the British Empire was in full flower, and there were British civil servants scattered all over the globe sending their children back to be properly educated in English boarding schools. One of the aspects of Empire.)

That's a long comment on the fact that while for us today to send a 10 year old away to a boarding school seems a terrible thing and a clear condemnation of their parents, Dickens's readers would, I think, have seen it as not at all out of the ordinary. And if you read the descriptions of British boarding schools of the time and even later (try Orwell's essay "Such, Such were the Days), it wasn't even that bad a boarding school. (Even worse will come our way if we read Nicholas Nicholby.)

None of this is to say that I approve of the Murdstones. I don't. But it is to say that I think our response to them is different from what Dickens probably expected his readers' response to be.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I think, Everyman, sending a child to school or even to camp is a lot different from putting him in some "room" with absolutely no familial contact and sending him to work at age 10 is a lot different from what you have described in your own experience or even the experience of young boys during their boarding school experience.

School is a lot different (hopefully) then fending for yourself as David was forced to do. At least in school meals were provided and you had the company of other children. I have a 10 year old granddaughter and I can't imagine her being left to make her own way.


message 10: by Julie (last edited Jun 14, 2013 01:42PM) (new)

Julie (readerjules) I can't help looking at the family with twenty first century eyes, which makes Mr. Murdstone a domineering bully and David's mom a victim who was repressed and kept from being herself. It didn't seem like a failure of him to help her with her insecurities to me, but rather that he and Mrs. Murdstone CAUSED them. But that doesn't mean he didn't love her. He very well may have. After all, his time and our time have different thoughts on how a wife should be. The Murdstones didn't seem to love David though. They totally ignored him after his mother's death and sent him away to fend for himself. The boarding school thing I had no problem with...it was afterward.


message 11: by Julie (last edited Jun 14, 2013 01:46PM) (new)

Julie (readerjules) What does everyone think about Peggoty getting married? It made me sad. I would have rather seen her go live with her family in the boat or something. I probably feel that way because she had originally stated so emphatically that she would never get married. I don't like women getting married just because they think that's all there is. But those are my modern attitudes coming out again... :-)


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Actually, I was happy for Peggoty. I think she is a wonderful character, very typical of the type we have come to know and love in Vic lit. My only question right now is why she didn't follow up on David? It is obvious that she cared for him greatly, although I guess in his letters to her, David never told of his awful situation. Was he ashamed do you think?

I think, Julie, in Vic times that marriage was all there was for a woman, sadly.


message 13: by Denise (new)

Denise (dulcinea3) | 400 comments I was happy for her, too! I loved the way Barkis used David as a go-between.


message 14: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Julie wrote: "I can't help looking at the family with twenty first century eyes, ..."

Nothing wrong with that. In fact, that's one way the classics remain relevant -- we can use them to understand more about our own lives and times.

But I also think it can be useful to understand the environment in which the author was writing. In this case, it helps me to understand that I don't believe he meant to create a monster, but it helps us to understand human progress when we can understand that characters who were accepted members of society at the time would today be considered monsters and unrepentantly evil.

And of course it goes the other way. Sometimes there are characters or manners or ways of inter-relating the loss of which is not progress but regression.


message 15: by Denise (new)

Denise (dulcinea3) | 400 comments Oh, I do think that Dickens intended to create a monster in Mr. Murdstone. He may have been an accepted member of society, but he was cruel at home to David and his mother. Dickens did not intend for us (or the readers of that time) to like or admire him.


message 16: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Mhoira wrote: "The children always seem to end being beaten, I get mad when I read that I don't care how ill behaved they are they don't deserve to be beaten. That seems to be the norm and it bothers me."

It was very much the norm, at least for boys, even expected, in Victorian England. "Spare the rod and spoil the child" wasn't just a slogan, it was considered basic child-rearing advice. If a boy wasn't beaten in school, the teacher wasn't doing his or her job properly. The old "Reading and 'riting and "rithmetic/ taught to the tune of a Hickory stick" was just the way it was.

School Days
(When We Were a Couple of Kids)

Words and Music By: Cobbs & Edwards
Adapted By: Terry Kluytmans
Copyright © 2001 Terry Kluytmans

Nothing to do, Nellie Darling,
Oh, there's nothing to do, you say,
Let's take a trip
On the Memory Ship,
And sail back to the good old days.
Sail to the old village schoolhouse,
Anchor outside the school door,
Look in and see,
There's you and there's me,
A couple of kids once more.

School days, school days,
Dear old golden rule days.
'Readin' and 'ritin' and 'rithmetic,
Taught to the tune of a hick'ry stick.
You were my queen in calico,
I was your bashful barefoot beau,
And you wrote on my slate,
'I love you, Joe,'
When we were a couple of kids.

School days, school days,
Dear old golden rule days.
'Readin' and 'ritin' and 'rithmetic,
Taught to the tune of a hick'ry stick.
I was your queen in calico,
You were my bashful barefoot beau,
And I wrote on your slate,
'I love you, Joe,'
When we were a couple of kids.

'Member the hill, Nellie Darling,
And the oak tree that grew on its brow?
They've built forty stories
Upon that old hill,
And the oak's an old chestnut now.
'Member the meadows so green, dear,
So fragrant with clover and maize,
Into new city lots
And apartment block plots,
They've torn them up since those days.

School days, school days,
Dear old golden rule days.
'Readin' and 'ritin' and 'rithmetic,
Taught to the tune of a hick'ry stick.
You were my queen in calico,
I was your bashful barefoot beau,
And you wrote on my slate,
'I love you, Joe,'
When we were a couple of kids.

School days, school days,
Dear old golden rule days.
'Readin' and 'ritin' and 'rithmetic,
Taught to the tune of a hick'ry stick.
I was your queen in calico,
You were my bashful barefoot beau,
And I wrote on your slate,
'I love you, Joe,'
When we were a couple of kids.


back to top