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T e a c h e r’s n o t e s
E 1 2
by Charles Dickens
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Hogarth in 1836 and they had ten children, but in 1858 he separated from her, beginning a secret relationship with a young actress, Ellen Ternan, which lasted until his death in 1870.
S U M M A R Y
avid Copperfield, published in 1849-50, when Dickens was at the height of his fame, contains many autobiographical elements.
David enjoys a happy childhood with his mother and her faithful servant, Peggotty, until his mother marries again and proves powerless to protect him from the cruelty of his stepfather, Mr Murdstone. He is sent away to school, where he meets an older rich boy, Steerforth, and makes friends with a boy of his own age, Traddles. He also enjoys holidays by the sea with Peggotty’s family, who are fishermen. However, after his mother’s death, he is put to work in a factory. He runs away to find his great-aunt, Betsey Trotwood. She pays for his studies while he lives with her lawyer, Mr Wickfield, and makes friends with Wickfield’s daughter, Agnes. On leaving school, he is articled to a lawyer called Mr Spenlow and falls in love with Spenlow’s daughter, Dora. In the meantime he has been the link between the two worlds of his childhood, taking Steerforth to Yarmouth, where his friend is attracted to Emily, Peggotty’s beautiful niece. In both these situations he has yet to learn that in this society wealth determines the nature of all relationships.
BACKGROUND AND THEMES
David Copperfield, probably because it is partly autobiographical, was Dickens’ own favourite among his novels. Whereas he usually concentrates on a specific social problem, which becomes his main theme, here the theme is personal. In David Copperfield he attempted to come to terms with the trials and humiliations of his childhood and youth, writing as a man who had overcome his humble beginnings and become the most successful novelist of his time. David’s life does not directly reflect Dickens’ life, but important incidents that had left a lasting impression on him are reproduced with little alteration. Dickens was taken from school at the age of 12 when his father was committed to the debtors’ prison, and put to work in a relative’s factory, like David (p.20). Shortly afterwards, when his father received a legacy that set him free, this also allowed the boy to resume his education. Dickens pictures his father in David Copperfield as the eternally optimistic, improvident Mr Micawber, but he told his biographer, Forster, that he had never forgotten the humiliation of working in the factory, or forgiven his mother, who thought he should go on working. In the novel, the angelic mother of David’s early childhood is replaced by the harsh, cold Miss Murdstone. The second main theme of the novel is that goodness has nothing to do with social position, and social position is too often equated with wealth. Here again, Dickens’ personal experience was relevant. As a poor young shorthand writer, he had fallen in love with the daughter of a banker, whose father sent her abroad to keep her out of Dickens’ way, as Mr Spenlow plans to do with Dora (p.59). Spenlow’s attitude towards David changes when David’s aunt loses her money. When he says ‘I thought you were a gentleman’ he implies that being a gentleman is a matter of money, not of being ‘a gentle man’, as David is. This tendency to equate money and social position with virtue corrupts characters’ judgement and behaviour. The
ABOUT CHARLES DICKENS
Charles Dickens, the best-known English novelist, was born in 1812, the son of a Royal Navy clerk, and grew up in ports Portsmouth and Chatham before the family moved to London when he was 10. Incidents from his childhood and youth feature in David Copperfield, where the hero, like Dickens, earns his living as a shorthand writer before achieving fame with his novels. Dickens was the first writer to reach a mass audience in Britain and the United States, publishing his novels in weekly episodes, and subsequently editing magazines in which his work and that of other well-known writers first appeared. His earliest work is notable for his comic inventiveness (Pickwick Papers) and powerful depiction of social evils, and relies heavily on melodrama and sentiment (Oliver Twist). David Copperfield, written at the midpoint of his career, retains many of these features but also points forward to the great novels of his maturity, which analyse the nature of Victorian society. Dickens married Kate
© Pearson Education 2000
they talk about David and Dora. © Pearson Education 2000 Published and distributed by Pearson Education Factsheet written by W S Fowler Factsheet series developed by Louise James . Uriah Heep. with the exception of discussion and pair/group work questions. Emily. (Definitions are based on those in the Longman Active Study Dictionary. cleaning. using signs Chapters 13-16 rope (n) this is long. carrying a number of people (modern: bus) complain (v) to say you are not happy about something cruel (adj) making other people suffer. giving them pain gentleman (n) a man who is polite and thinks of others (but in the novel. What does the word gentleman mean? How does Spenlow understand the word? What does this tell us about life in Dickens’ day? level 3 Chapters 13-16 Students work in small groups. dies trying to save him. Dickens seems to have the same opinion of them as David has. They are practised in the ‘Before You Read’ sections of exercises at the back of the book. and nobody helps the teacher. What does this tell us about the relationships between (a) husbands and wives. In his later novels. In David Copperfield some are like those in the early novels. Supplementary exercises covering shorter sections of the book can be found on the photocopiable Student’s Activities pages of this Factsheet. Compare the characters of Uriah Heep and Mr Micawber. above. They must tell the truth but can say why they think they were right. Mrs Gummidge. (b) they think that that the ending for each of them is believable. Consequently. carrying things (modern: lorry) coach (n) a closed vehicle with wheels pulled by a horse. very bad or very funny. Steerforth. Betsey Trotwood asks the others what they have done to David and why they have acted badly towards him. could have been a good man but has been spoilt by an indulgent mother. Using the completed table of characters of Mr Murdstone and Mr Creakle. though there is room for disagreement. Traddles. usually a man belonging to the middle or upper class) manage (v) to know how to look after a house or a business servant (n) a person who works in someone’s house. can also be used by students working alone in a selfaccess centre. strong and thick and is used to tie things ACTIVITIES AFTER READING A SECTION Chapters 1-3 Put students into small groups to discuss these questions. Ham. Ask them to look up relationship (the way in which people relate to each other) in their dictionary. who always emphasizes that he is ‘humble’. David himself is not corrupted. he looks down on poor fishermen. ACTIVITIES BEFORE READING THE BOOK Teach students the words stepfather and stepmother. Ask students to put the characters in the column where they think they belong. he says. When Mr Spenlow hears that David is poor. ‘You are not a gentleman’. he judges everyone on their merits. Mr Mell. but instead they decide if (a) they agree with the way Dickens ended the book for each of them. and supplement those exercises. David’s mother doesn’t help him against Mr Murdstone. to cheat Mr Wickfield and dream of marrying Agnes. used of hands) Chapters 7-9 scar (n) this is left by a cut on your skin Chapters 10-12 deceive (v) to make someone believe something that is not true shorthand (n) a fast way of writing down what people say. the humble fisherman who loved Emily. Steerforth. In Dickens’ early novels characters are usually very good. At the other end of the social scale.Penguin Readers Factsheets T e a c h e r’s n o t e s proud rich boy. Agnes. (As a guide you can suggest that they will probably put three characters in each column. What is this opinion? What does it tell us about Dickens’ thoughts about money and success? Chapters 10-12 Put students into small groups to discuss this question. etc. Ask them to look up character (what a person is like) in their dictionary.27) humble (adj) believing you are not as important as other people (also used in the novel to mean belonging to a lower class) lawyer (n) someone who can practise the law as a profession owe (v) to have to pay someone because you have borrowed money from them rub (v) to move something against another thing (here. DAVID COPPERFIELD The following teacher-led activities cover the same sections of text as the exercises at the back of the reader. Betsey Trotwood. Rosa Dartle.) Then have a class discussion. One student plays the part of Betsey Trotwood and the others are Mr Murdstone and Miss Murdstone. they are more believable. Very good Very bad Funny Natural Communicative activities Peggotty. ACTIVITIES AFTER READING THE BOOK Put students into small groups. looking after papers donkey (n) an animal like a small horse with big ears (see p. From the beginning. These are primarily for use with class readers but. and takes advantage of Emily (‘ruins her’ in the language of the time) but will not marry her.) Chapters 1-3 cart (n) a vehicle with wheels pulled by a horse. Mr Murdstone. ignoring their human qualities. (b) employers and employees when Dickens lived? Chapters 4-6 Divide the students into groups of three. Mr Creakle. Chapters 7-9 Put students into small groups to discuss this question. carrying people (modern: car) clerk (n) someone who works in an office. refusing to accept that people are inferior because they are poor. shilling (n) money (= twelve pennies) (20 shillings = one pound) Chapters 4-6 carriage (n) a vehicle with wheels pulled by a horse. a few like the ones in the later novels. In contrast. cooking. envy of others’ social position leads Uriah Heep. Mr Micawber. Put them into small groups and ask them: Why do you think that in stories stepfathers and stepmothers are nearly always unkind? Glossary It will be useful for your students to know the following new words.
... Why? (b) Who says: ‘A gentleman can’t be rude to a poor man. (e) David meets Mr Micawber......’ (b) ‘I threw something at her........... Who is the person he meets in these sentences? (a) She is sitting next to him at the theatre.... Chapter 3 1 Put the people with the descriptions... David has arrived at his aunt’s house...... (d) While he is in Canterbury......................... (b) David arrives at his aunt’s house... 2 Answer these questions...... David tells her what to do if she wants to be good....... Act the conversation between them.......... things often happen by chance........... (d) Steerforth (iv) a poor teacher who lives with his mother.. and who or what are they talking about? (a) ‘He’s a clever man. © Pearson Education 2000 ....... (d) David decides to go to see his aunt....... (b) She takes David to Canterbury to see .. David often meets people again by chance.... (a) Who makes David wear the board in the picture on page 13. She has said that she will marry Ham but she likes Steerforth.......... Steerforth and Traddles think about this? CHAPTERS 7-9 Chapter 7 1 Who is speaking.... But she has agreed to marry me............. (e) Mr Wickfield’s clerk.....’ Why? (c) Why does Mr Mell lose his job as a teacher at the school? (d) What do the three boys ..’ (d) ‘She should be a gentleman’s wife.................. (b) He sees an old friend at the dinner at the Waterbrooks house’. Pair/group-only activities are marked..................... It hit her on the mouth..... 2 3 4 5 Activities before reading the book Read the names of the first three chapters and look at the pictures on page 9 and page 13... DAVID COPPERFIELD (a) David’s aunt is angry with Miss Murdstone because .................Penguin Readers Factsheets Student’s activities level E 1 David Copperfield Photocopiable Students can do these exercises alone or with one or more other students.... In this story............. Act the conversation between them about Mr Murdstone and David’s work in Mr Quinion’s factory.. (h) Mr Micawber teaches David a lesson about money......’ 2 Work with another student. 6 PREINTERMEDIATE Activities while reading the book CHAPTERS 1-3 Chapter 6 Chapters 1 & 2 Answer these questions............. You are David and Emily..... (a) Mr Murdstone finds David a job in a factory.’ (e) ‘I’ve done something terrible.. (g) Heep is studying to be .. and wears ............. The people in Yarmouth hate me...... (h) He always says that he and his family are .. (a) Mr Mell (i) cruel and unpopular and a bad teacher..... (a) Why doesn’t Miss Trotwood help David’s mother to look after him? (b) Why is Mr Murdstone angry when he meets David for the first time? (c) Why doesn’t he want his friend to say Mrs Copperfield is pretty? (d) Why is David’s mother not at home when he comes back from Yarmouth? (e) Why can’t David learn his lessons when Mr Murdstone teaches him? Complete these sentences. I need someone like him to manage my money....David..................... Uriah Heep....... Why do you think David has a new father? What happens to him because of this? (g) Mr Murdstone takes David away from school....... is ..... (f) A young man steals David’s money on the way to Dover.... Chapters 8 & 9 1 Look up chance in your dictionary. 2 Work with another student.. Emily isn’t sure of her feelings..’ (c) ‘I know that she is younger than I am......... (f) David does not like him because his hand is like ..... David lives ...... (c) David’s mother and brother die. In Dickens’ stories... (b) Mr Creakle (ii) a kind boy who doesn’t laugh at David......... CHAPTERS 4-6 Chapters 4 & 5 1 Put these sentences in order.... (c) She wants him to find .... You are David and David’s aunt...... (c) Traddles (iii) a rich boy who likes David’s stories.........
not Agnes....................... (a) Why is Mr Micawber angry and sad when he comes to see David? (b) Who helps David to find Emily? (c) Who do they see on the stairs outside Emily’s room? (d) How is Mr Micawber able to show that Heep has stolen money? (e) Why didn’t Mr Wickfield understand what was happening? (f) Why doesn’t Heep have to go to prison? CHAPTERS 10-12 Chapter 10 1 Complete these sentences... (viii) changes his mind about David when he hears he is poor. 2 Answer these questions.. Who thinks this? Are the rich people in David Copperfield better people than the poor people? (h) Uriah Heep 2 Work with another student...... DAVID COPPERFIELD (a) When Emily says she will only return if Steerforth ‘makes me a lady’........ (e) But she says they won’t tell her father yet because ........ and why does she tell David she is sorry? (b) How did Uriah Heep become the owner of half of Mr Wickfield’s business? (c) What is the change that Mrs Crupp notices in David? Why has he changed? (d) Why does Mr Micawber write to David? What has he done? (e) Why is David going to Yarmouth? Why does he go to Highgate first? Ask and answer the question: ‘Do you think I should marry her soon?’ level 3 CHAPTERS 13-16 Chapters 13 & 14 1 Which sentences about David and Dora’s marriage are true.. (i) Activities after reading the book Talk to one or more other students...... Steerforth tells David why he doesn’t want to. Agnes (vii) is angry with herself for losing her money. (a) Dora doesn’t know how to manage the house. You are David and Traddles.... (b) Betsey Trotwood (ii) is talking about him. David tells Steerforth what he thinks of him..... Mr Spenlow (iv) does not want Heep to marry his daughter.. (c) David doesn’t love her. (d) David is very happy because Dora agrees ........... pays Uriah Heep (c) Ham tries to save (iii) because he is very Steerforth sad.. which are false? Correct those that are not true................... Chapters 11 & 12 1 Match the people to the feelings or actions.. Traddles (vi) is happy that Uriah Heep can give him work. (d) He is living in the same house as David’s friend.... (a) What does Agnes think of Steerforth.. Chapters 15 & 16 Put the two halves of these sentences together (a) Jip the dog dies (i) that she made her son selfish.. (b) Mrs Steerforth thinks Mr Peggotty will feel better if she ..... Dora (v) tells David she will always be his friend.... (c) Rosa Dartle hates Emily because ..............Penguin Readers Factsheets Student’s activities (c) She is at Mr Spenlow’s house.. You both want to get married.......... He wants him to marry Emily...... (a) Mr Micawber (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (g) is pleased David is in love with Dora..... (f) Agnes cannot marry (vi) but dies swimming the man she loves to the ship... (a) Why is David happier in his second marriage than his first? (b) Are David’s opinions of people changed by the amount of money the people have? Find examples in the book... Betsey Trotwood (ii) doesn’t want to hear about money or cooking.......... 2 Talk with another student. 2 Answer these questions.... (b) She doesn’t love David. (d) She is like David’s mother... (g) David realizes that she (vii) and becomes rich and successful....... They meet. looking after Dora Spenlow. (h) Mr Micawber goes to (viii) at the same moment Australia as Dora... (c) Some people in the book think that rich people are better people.................. Mr Wickfield (iii) helps David to learn shorthand... Is Sophy the best wife for Traddles? Is Dora the best wife for David? © Pearson Education 2000 Published and distributed by Pearson Education Factsheet written by W S Fowler Factsheet series developed by Louise James . (d) Rosa Dartle tells (iv) because she thinks he Mrs Steerforth does not love her... (e) David leaves (v) to save Mr Micawber England from prison..... You are David and Steerforth.... she means if he .
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