David Copperfield’s Relationships with Heep

and SteerforthTo completely understand and interpret David Copperfield’s relationships with Uriah Heep and James Steerforth in the novel, David Copperfield, it is essential to look to his childhood. David Copperfield’s childhood was filled with intense mixtures of pain and agony and love and care. He was born to only a very loving mother, his father having passed away before his birth. David’s relationship with his dear mother and maid, Peggoty, build his foundation of life on love and happiness. Unfortunately his wonderful childhood is interrupted by the introduction of a new character to his life. David has a new and dreadful father, Mr. Murdstone. Soon after their introduction into David’s life, the Murdstones take over Mrs. Copperfield both physiologically and physically. David is sent away, at a very young age to harsh living environments smashing his childhood to pieces. His childhood memories altered every relationship he had from then forth.

As David approached the Wickfield’s residence for the first time he noticed the strange figure of Uriah Heep first peering through the window and then observed his character first hand soon after. Uriah was depicted as a serpent-like man, with uncanny features to his person. David at first became attracted to Uriah, intrigued by his mysteriousness. Soon David could see through Uriah’s “umble” scheme of making others feel pity for him, and then stabbing them in the back. David became disgusted with Uriah’s character and nearly found him unbearable. David waited for every moment to justly criticize Uriah. In one scene in a time of great pressure, Uriah opened himself to the Wickfields and David telling them of his secret love for Agnes and his intention to marry her. With this David became enraged and furious at the thought of Uriah repulsive fingers touching Agnes, his sister-like friend and following other comments from Heep he hit him. Heep’s character is fully revealed, as he is caught red-handed stealing money from Ms. Trotwood. He is sent to jail where he can be among his umble people. David visits him in jail and speaks with him in front of Mr. Creakle, the superintendent. Uriah centers the conversation around his now not so umble self, claiming he is a better person and, in fact, better than his former employer and his family, the Wickfields. But David is far too understanding of Uriah’s nature and can see through him like glass. He realizes that Uriah’s scheme is to convince the warden to release him and to suggest that the Wickfields be omitted to be “purified”. Uriah also mentions his quarrels with David, suggesting that he was the victim and he gives David his forgiveness. Uriah’s character is one that deceitfully makes a person to feel sorry for his background and situation, gaining that person’s sympathy, but soon after his true motives and personality are discovered. This was the exact case with David and the entire Wickfield family and their relations find, as Dicken’s himself describes, he is nothing more than a snake.

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Heroes is a major theme of the novel, almost every character has a hero of some significance, each in their own respects. David has many, but as a child he has but one, that is Steerforth. David meets Steerforth in his new school, Salem House. Steerforth, an older boy whom is very wealth in held in high respect among the students, immediately takes David under his wing. With the consent of David he receives privileges over his spending money and uses it to throw a party for David, to help David fit in. David looks up to Steerforth seeing him as an idol and he becomes very attracted to Steerforth’s overwhelming charm and handsome face. Steerforth is quite significantly the opposite of the repressed and timid people David had previously grown up with. Throughout the book, David’s love for Steerforth grows, which is noteworthy considering David’s rather shy personality and relatively few loves. Likewise with Uriah, David can see and recognize all of Steerforth’s flaws in character. He views Steerforth as being egocentric but his greatest flaw is his amazing record of ruining lives. After David leaves the Salem House their relationship is suspended until they, almost by destiny, run


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