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How well I recollect the kind of day it was! I smell the fog that hung about the place; I see the hoar-frost, ghostly, through it; I feel my rimy hair fall clammy on my cheek; I look along the dim perspective of the schoolroom, with a sputtering candle here and there to light up the foggy morning, and the breath of the boys wreathing and smoking in the raw cold as they blow upon their fingers, and rap their feet upon the floor.

In such passages, which punctuate the retrospective chapters, the relived moment replaces the lived, the historical present seals the collapse of the original experience and the recreation of a here and now that seizes the entire field of consciousness. Without being Dickens, this narrator, Copperfield, is very like him and often becomes his spokesperson. It adds to his point of view, directly or indirectly, that of the author, without there necessarily being total match between the two. As such, Copperfield serves as "medium", mirror and also screen, Dickens sometimes subverting his speech to get to the forefront or, on the contrary, hide behind this elegant delegate to the nimble pen.

Dickens' voice, however, is in general well concealed and, according to Gareth Cordery, the most difficult to detect because mostly present by implication. For example, in chapter 21, the two friends arrive by surprise at the Peggotty home, and Copperfield presents Steerforth to Emily at the very moment when her betrothal with Ham has just been announced. This sudden intrusion stops the girl as she has just jumped from Ham's arms to nestle in those of Mr Peggotty, a sign, says Cordery in passing, that the promise of marriage is as much for the uncle as for the nephew.

The text remains brief but Phiz interprets, anticipates the events, denounces even the future guilt of Copperfield: all eyes are on the girl, her bonnet, emblem of her social aspirations and her next wanderings with Steerforth, is ready to be seized. Copperfield, dressed as a gentleman, stands in the doorway, one finger pointing at Steerforth who is taller by one head, the other measuring the gap between Ham and Dan Peggotty, as if offering Emily to his friend.

Emily, meanwhile, still has her head turned to Ham but the body is withdrawn and the look has become both challenging and provocative. Phiz brings together in a single image a whole bunch of unwritten information, which Dickens approved and probably even suggested. A third perspective is the point of view of the discerning reader who, although generally carried away by sympathy for the narrator's self-interested pleading, does not remain blissfully ignorant and ends up recognizing the faults of the man and of the writer, just as he also learns to identify and gauge the covert interventions of the author.

The discerning reader listens to the adult Copperfield and hears what this adult wants or does not want them to hear. So, when Dora dies, the reader sees that the topic of grief is dropped in a hurry, as if Copperfield had more important things to do than to indulge in sorrow: "this is not the time at which I am to enter a state of mind beneath its load of sorrow", [52] which creates a question and an embarrassment: is Copperfield protecting himself from his confusion, or does he shed some crocodile tears for form?

Copperfield also examines some of his most culpable weaknesses, such as unconscious connivance his "own unconscious part" in the defilement of the Peggotty home by Steerforth, which he remains forever incapable of opposing: "I believe that if I had been brought face to face with him, I could not have uttered one reproach. These underground currents are thus revealed in David's psychological struggle, Gareth Cordery concludes, currents that his narrative unconsciously attempts to disguise.

The story is a road from which different paths leave. The road is that of David's life, the main plot; the branches are born of meetings with him and lead to several secondary intrigues taken more or less far along.

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Each is represented by an important figure: Mr Micawber, Steerforth, little Emily, Uriah Heep; there are side stories, that of Martha Endell, Rosa Dartle, and, along the main road, stretch some parallel paths on which the reader is from time to time invited: the Traddles, Betsey Trotwood, the Peggotty family, Dan and Ham in particular, Peggotty herself remaining from start to finish intimately related to David. The different tracks do not move away from the main avenue, and when they do, a narrative "forceps" brings them together again.

Hence the retrospective chapters and the ultimate recapitulation were written. The narrative is, indeed, linear in appearance, as it should be in its traditional first-person form. It covers the narrator's entire life, at least until the day he decides to put an end to his literary endeavor. However, whole sections of his life are summarized in a few paragraphs, or sometimes just a sentence or two, indicating that three or ten years have passed, or that Dora is dead, necessary to keep the story moving along.

Thus, the long stay of reflection in Switzerland which leads to the recognition of love for Agnes, or the lapse of time before the final chapter, are all blanks in the story. Besides the hero, this story concerns important secondary characters such as Mr Micawber or Uriah Heep, or Betsey Trotwood and Traddles, the few facts necessary for a believable story are parsimoniously distilled in the final chapters: an impromptu visit to a prison, the unexpected return of Dan Peggotty from the Antipodes; so many false surprises for the narrator who needs them to complete each person's personal story.

As such, the epilogue that represents the last chapter Ch 64 is a model of the genre, a systematic review, presumably inspired by his memory, without true connection. There is the desire to finish with each one, with forced exclamations and ecstatic observations, scrolling through the lives of those who are frozen in time: Dick with his "Memorial" and his kite, Dr Strong and his dictionary, and as a bonus, the news of David's "least child", which implies that there have been other children between him and eldest child Agnes of whom the reader has never heard by name.

So also goes the story of Dan Peggotty relating the sad tale of his niece. The four chapters called "Retrospect" Ch 18 A Retrospect, Ch 43 Another Retrospect, Ch 53 Another Retrospect and Ch 64 A Last Retrospect are placed at strategic moments of the general discourse, which play a catch-up role more than one of meditation by the narrator, without venturing into event details. Here, the narration has disappeared, it has given way to a list, an enumeration of events.

Dickens' approach, as shown in David Copperfield , does not escape what fr:Georges Gusdorf calls "the original sin of autobiography", that is to say a restructuring a posteriori and in this, paradoxically, it demonstrates its authenticity. It is a succession of autonomous moments which do not end up amalgamating in a coherent whole and that connect the tenuous thread of the "I" recognizing each other.

In this reconstruction, one part of truth and the other of poetry, the famous Dichtung und Wahrheit From my Life: Poetry and Truth; — , autobiography of Goethe , there is the obligatory absence of objectivity, the promotion of oblivion as an integral part of memory, the ruling power of the subjectivity of time found.

Thus, to use George Gusdorf's words again, David Copperfield appears as a "second reading of a man's experience", in this case, Charles Dickens, when he reached the fullness of his career, tried to give "a meaning to his legend". This novel's main theme arises from the fact that it is a bildungsroman , a literary genre that focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood, which is common in Dickens's novels, [61] and in which character change is extremely important.

Other important themes relate especially to Dickens's social concerns, and his desire for reform. This includes the plight of so-called 'fallen women', and prostitutes, as well as the attitude of middle-class society to these women; the status of women in marriage; the rigid class structure; the prison system; educational standards, and emigration to the colonies of what was becoming the British Empire.

The latter was a way for individuals to escape some of the rigidity of British society and start anew. Some of these subjects are directly satirized, while others are worked into the novel in more complex ways by Dickens.

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Copperfield's path to maturity is marked by the different names assigned to him: his mother calls him "Davy"; Murdstone calls him as "Brooks of Sheffield"; for Peggotty's family, he is "Mas'r Davy"; en route to boarding school from Yarmouth, he appears as "Master Murdstone"; at Murdstone and Grinby, he is known as "Master Copperfield"; Mr Micawber is content with "Copperfield"; for Steerforth he is "Daisy"; he becomes "Mister Copperfield" with Uriah Heep; and "Trotwood", soon shortened to "Trot" for Aunt Betsey; Mrs Crupp deforms his name into "Mr Copperfull"; and for Dora he is "Doady".

It is by writing his own story, and giving him his name in the title, that Copperfield can finally assert who he is. In fact, David's life is in a way a series of lives, each one in radical disjunction from what follows, writes Paul Davis. For example, in Chapter 17, while attending Canterbury School, he met Mr Micawber at Uriah Heep's, and a sudden terror gripped him that Heep could connect him, such as he is today, and the abandoned child who lodged with the Micawber family in London. So many mutations indicate the name changes, which are sometimes received with relief: "Trotwood Copperfield", when he finds refuge in Dover at his Aunt Betsey's house, so the narrator writes, "Thus I began my new life, in a new name, and with everything new about me.

There is a process of forgetfulness, a survival strategy developed by memory, which poses a major challenge to the narrator; his art, in fact, depends on the ultimate reconciliation of differences in order to free and preserve the unified identity of his being a man. David opens his story with a question: Will I be the hero of my own life? Which means that he does not know where his approach will lead him, that writing itself will be the test.

As Paul Davis puts it, "In this Victorian quest narrative, the pen might be lighter than the sword, and the reader will be left to judge those qualities of the man and the writer that constitute heroism. However, question implies an affirmation: it is Copperfield, and no one else, who will determine his life, the future is delusory, since the games are already played, the life has been lived, with the novel being only the story. Copperfield is not always the hero of his life, and not always the hero of his story, as some characters have a stronger role than him, [67] Besides Steerforth, Heep, Micawber, for example, he often appears passive and lightweight.

Hence, concludes Paul Davis, the need to read his life differently; it is more by refraction through other characters that the reader has a true idea of the "hero" of the story. What do these three men reveal to him, and also to Dora, whom he marries? The dictionary of Strong will never be completed and, as a story of a life, will end with the death of its author. As for Mr Dick, his autobiographical project constantly raises the question of whether he can transcend the incoherence and indecision of his subject-narrator.

Will he be able to take the reins, provide a beginning, a middle, an end? Will he succeed in unifying the whole, in overcoming the trauma of the past, his obsession with the decapitated royal head, so as to make sense of the present and find a direction for the future? According to Paul Davis, only does Copperfield succeeds in constructing a whole of his life, including suffering and failure, as well as successes, and that is "one measure of his heroism as a writer".

The past "speaks" especially to David, "a child of close observation" chapter 2 ; the title of this chapter is: "I observe", [68] and as an adult he is endowed with a remarkable memory. The past tense verb is often the preterite for the narrative , and the sentences are often short independent propositions, each one stating a fact.

Admittedly, the adult narrator intervenes to qualify or provide an explanation, without, however, taking precedence over the child's vision. And sometimes, the story is prolonged by a reflection on the functioning of the memory. So, again in chapter 2, the second and third paragraphs comment on the first memory of the two beings surrounding David, his mother, and Peggotty:.

I believe I can remember these two at a little distance apart, dwarfed to my sight by stooping or kneeling on the floor, and I going unsteadily from the one to the other. I have an impression on my mind, which I cannot distinguish from actual remembrance, of the touch of Peggotty's forefinger as she used to hold it out to me, and of its being roughened by needlework, like a pocket nutmeg-grater. This may be fancy, though I think the memory of most of us can go further back into such times than many of us suppose; just as I believe the power of observation in numbers of very young children to be quite wonderful for its closeness and accuracy.

Indeed, I think that most grown men who are remarkable in this respect may with greater propriety be said not to have lost the faculty than to have acquired it; the rather, as I generally observe such men to retain a certain freshness, and gentleness, and capacity of being pleased, which are also an inheritance they have preserved from their childhood.

David thus succeeds, as George Orwell puts it, in standing "both inside and outside a child's mind", [5] a particularly important double vision effect in the first chapters. The perspective of the child is combined with that of the adult narrator who knows that innocence will be violated and the feeling of security broken.

Thus, even before the intrusion of Mr Murdstone as step-father or Clara's death, the boy feels "intimations of mortality". Bewitching Mrs Copperfield's incumbrance? Somebody's sharp. I looked up quickly, being curious to know. I was quite relieved to find that it was only Brooks of Sheffield, for, at first, I really thought it was I. There seemed to be something very comical in the reputation of Mr Brooks of Sheffield, for both the gentlemen laughed heartily when he was mentioned, and Mr Murdstone was a good deal amused also.

The final blow, brutal and irremediable this time, is the vision, in chapter 9, of his own reflection in his little dead brother lying on the breast of his mother: "The mother who lay in the grave was the mother of my infancy; the little creature in her arms was myself, as I had once been, hushed forever on her bosom". David Copperfield is a posthumous child , that is, he was born after his father died. His first years are spent with women, two Claras, [N 8] his mother and Peggotty, which, according to Paul Davis, "undermines his sense of masculinity".

Steerforth is not mistaken, when from the outset he calls Copperfield "Daisy"—a flower of spring, symbol of innocent youth. To forge an identity as a man and learn how to survive in a world governed by masculine values, instinctively, he looks for a father figure who can replace that of the father he did not have. Several male models will successively offer themselves to him: the adults Mr Murdstone, Mr Micawber and Uriah Heep, his comrades Steerforth and Traddles. Mr Murdstone darkens Copperfield's life instead of enlightening him, because the principle of firmness which he champions, absolute novelty for the initial family unit, if he instills order and discipline, kills spontaneity and love.

The resistance that Copperfield offers him is symbolic: opposing a usurper without effective legitimacy, he fails to protect his mother but escapes the straitjacket and achieves his independence. Mr Murdstone thus represents the anti-father, double negative of the one of which David was deprived, model a contrario of what it is not necessary to be.

Why the Crocodile Has a Wide Mouth

The second surrogate father is just as ineffective, although of a diametrically opposed personality: it is Mr Micawber who, for his part, lacks firmness to the point of sinking into irresponsibility. Overflowing with imagination and love, in every way faithful and devoted, inveterate optimist, he eventually becomes, in a way, the child of David who helps him to alleviate his financial difficulties. The roles are reversed and, by the absurdity, David is forced to act as a man and to exercise adult responsibilities towards him. However, the Micawbers are not lacking in charm, the round Wilkins, of course, but also his dry wife, whose music helps her to live.

New avatar of this quest, Uriah Heep is "a kind of negative mirror to David". For David, Steerforth represents all that Heep is not: born a gentleman, with no stated ambition or defined life plan, he has a natural presence and charisma that immediately give him scope and power. However, his failure as a model is announced well before the episode at Yarmouth where he seizes, like a thief, Little Emily before causing her loss in Italy. He already shows himself as he is, brutal, condescending, selfish and sufficient, towards Rosa Dartle, bruised by him for life, and Mr Mell who undergoes the assaults of his cruelty.

The paradox is that even as he gauges his infamy, David remains from start to finish dazzled by Steerforth's aristocratic ascendancy, even as he contemplates him drowning on Yarmouth Beach, "lying with his head upon his arm, as I had often seen him at school". Now consider Traddles, the anti-Steerforth, the same age as the hero, not very brilliant at school, but wise enough to avoid the manipulations to which David succumbs. His attraction for moderation and reserve assures him the strength of character that David struggles to forge. Neither rich nor poor, he must also make a place for himself in the world, at which he succeeds by putting love and patience at the center of his priorities, the love that tempers the ambition and the patience that moderates the passion.

His ideal is to achieve justice in his actions, which he ends up implementing in his profession practically. In the end, Traddles, in his supreme modesty, represents the best male model available to David. There are others, Daniel Peggotty for example, all love and dedication, who goes in search of his lost niece and persists in mountains and valleys, beyond the seas and continents, to find her trace. Mr Peggotty is the anti-Murdstone par excellence, but his influence is rather marginal on David, as his absolute excellence, like the maternal perfection embodied by his sister Peggotty, makes him a character type more than an individual to refer to.

There is also the carter Barkis, original, laconic and not without defects, but a man of heart. He too plays a role in the personal history of the hero, but in a fashion too episodic to be significant, especially since he dies well before the end of the story. It is true that David's personal story makes it more difficult for him to access the kind of equilibrium that Traddles presents, because it seems destined, according to Paul Davis, to reproduce the errors committed by his parents. The chapters describing their loves are among the best in the novel [65] because Dickens manages to capture the painful ambivalence of David, both passionately infatuated with the irresistible young woman, to whom we can only pass and forgive everything, and frustrated by his weak character and his absolute ignorance of any discipline.

For love, the supreme illusion of youth, he tries to change it, to "form her mind", which leads him to recognize that "firmness" can to be a virtue which, ultimately, he needs. However, finding himself in a community of thought, even distantly, with his hateful and cruel stepfather whom he holds responsible for the death of his mother and a good deal of his own misfortunes, it was a troubling discovery.

It is his aunt Betsey who, by her character, represents the struggle to find the right balance between firmness and gentleness, rationality and empathy. Life forced Betsey Trotwood to assume the role she did not want, that of a father, and as such she became, but in her own way, adept at steadfastness and discipline. From an initially culpable intransigence, which led her to abandon the newborn by denouncing the incompetence of the parents not even capable of producing a girl, she finds herself gradually tempered by circumstances and powerfully helped by the "madness" of her protege, Mr Dick.

He, between two flights of kites that carry away the fragments of his personal history, and without his knowing it, plays a moderating role, inflecting the rationality of his protector by his own irrationality, and his cookie-cutter judgments by considerations of seeming absurdity, but which, taken literally, prove to be innate wisdom. In truth, Aunt Betsey, despite her stiffness and bravado, does not dominate her destiny; she may say she can do it, yet she cannot get David to be a girl, or escape the machinations of Uriah Heep any more than the money demands of her mysterious husband.

She also fails, in spite of her lucidity, her clear understanding, of the love blindness of her nephew, to prevent him from marrying Dora and in a parallel way, to reconcile the Strongs. In fact, in supreme irony, it is once again Mr Dick who compensates for his inadequacies, succeeding with intuition and instinctive understanding of things, to direct Mr Micawber to save Betsey from the clutches of Heep and also to dispel the misunderstandings of Dr Strong and his wife Annie.

As often in Dickens where a satellite of the main character reproduces the course in parallel, the story of the Strong couple develops in counterpoint that of David and Dora. While Dora is in agony, David, himself obsessed with his role as a husband, observes the Strongs who are busy unraveling their marital distress.

Two statements made by Annie Strong impressed him: in the first, she told him why she rejected Jack Maldon and thanked her husband for saving her "from the first impulse of an undisciplined heart". He concludes that in all things, discipline tempered by kindness and kindness is necessary for the equilibrium of a successful life. Mr Murdstone preached firmness; in that, he was not wrong. Where he cruelly failed was that he matched it with selfish brutality instead of making it effective by the love of others.

It is because David has taken stock of his values and accepted the painful memories of Dora's death, that he is finally ready to go beyond his emotional blindness and recognize his love for Agnes Wickfield, the one he already has called the "true heroine" of the novel to which he gives his name.


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Paul Davis writes that Agnes is surrounded by an aura of sanctity worthy of a stained glass window, that she is more a consciousness or an ideal than a person, that, certainly, she brings the loving discipline and responsibility of which the hero needs, but lacks the charm and human qualities that made Dora so attractive. That said, the writer David, now David Copperfield, realised the vow expressed to Agnes when he was newly in love with Dora, in Chapter Depression : "If I had a conjurer's cap, there is no one I should have wished but for you".

Thus, David Copperfield is the story of a journey through life and through oneself, but also, by the grace of the writer, the recreation of the tenuous thread uniting the child and the adult, the past and the present, in what Georges Gusdorf calls "fidelity to the person". Admittedly, it is not the primary interest of David Copperfield that remains above all the story of a life told by the very one who lived it, but the novel is imbued with a dominant ideology, that of the middle class , advocating moral constancy, hard work, separate spheres for men and women, and, in general, the art of knowing one's place, indeed staying in that place.

Further, some social problems and repeated abuses being topical, Dickens took the opportunity to expose them in his own way in his fiction, and Trevor Blount, in his introduction to the edition Penguin Classics, reissued in , devotes several pages to this topic. However, Gareth Cordery shows that behind the display of Victorian values, often hides a watermarked discourse that tends to question, test, and even subvert them.

Among the social issues that David Copperfield is concerned with, are prostitution, the prison system, education, as well as society's treatment of the insane. Dickens' views on education are reflected in the contrast he makes between the harsh treatment that David receives at at the hands of Crankle at Salem House and Dr Strong's school where the methods used inculcate honour and self—reliance in its pupils.

Through the character of "the amiable, innocent, and wise fool" Mr Dick, Dickens's "advocacy in the humane treatment of the insane" can be seen. So Betsy Trotwood, continuing Mr Dick's story in Chapter 14, stepped in to suggest that Mr Dick should be given "his little income, and come and live with" her: "I am ready to take care of him, and shall not ill-treat him as some people besides the asylum-folks have done.

The employment of young children in factories and mines under harsh conditions in the early Victorian era disturbed many. There was a series of Parliamentary enquiries into the working conditions of children, and these "reports shocked writers Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Charles Dickens. Young David works in a factory for a while after his mother dies and his stepfather showed no interest in him. Such depictions contributed to the call for legislative reform. Dickens satirises contemporary ideas about how prisoners should be treated in Chapter 61, 'I am Shown Two Interesting Penitents'.

In this chapter, published in November , David along with Traddles is shown around a large well-built new prison, modelled on Pentonville prison built in , where a new, supposedly more humane, system of incarceration is in operation, under the management of David's former headmaster Creakle. In the prison David and Traddles encounter 'model prisoners' 27 and 28, who they discover are Uriah Heep and Mr Littimer.

Both are questioned about the quality of the food and Creakle promises improvements. Dickens ideas in this chapter were in line with Carlyle , whose pamphlet, "Model Prisons", also denounced Pentonville Prison, was published in the spring of Dickens exploration of the subject of emigration in the novel has been criticized, initially by John Forster and later by G K Chesterton. Chesterton accused Dickens of presenting emigration in an excessively optimistic light.

That Dickens believed that by sending a boatload of people overseas their 'souls' can be changed, while ignoring the fact that poor people like Peggotty have seen their home stained or, like Emily, their honour tarnished. Micawber has been broken by the English social system and his journey to the antipodes is paid for by a paragon of the Victorian bourgeoisie, Betsey Trotwood, [92] And he is supposed to regain control of his destiny once he has arrived in Australia.

Dickens cares about material and psychological happiness, and is convinced that physical well-being is a comfort for life's wounds. Dickens sent his characters to America in Nicholas Nickleby and Martin Chuzzlewit , but he has the Peggotty and Micawber families emigrate to the Australia.

This approach was part of official policy of the s, focusing on Australia as a land of welcome. It was at this time necessary to stimulate interest in the new colony and propagandists arrived in England in particular John Dunmore Lang and Caroline Chisholm from Australia. Dickens was only following this movement and, in any case, had faith in family colonisation.

Moreover, the idea that redemption could be achieved by such a new start in a person's life was a preoccupation of the author, and he saw here subject matter to charm his readers. From the point of view of the novel's inner logic, in order for Copperfield to complete his psychological maturation and exist independently, Dickens must expel his surrogate fathers, including Peggotty and Micawber, and emigration is an easy way to remove them.

The episode in the prison, according to novelist Angus Wilson , is more than a piece of journalism; [95] it represents Dickens's vision of the society in which he lives. The same can be said of the episodes concerning prostitution and emigration, which illuminate the limits of Copperfield's moral universe and Dickens's own uncertainties. All these conversions are somewhat 'ironic', [97] and tend to undermine the hypothesis of 'a Dickens believing in the miracle of the antipodes', which Jane Rogers considers in her analysis of the 'fallen woman' as a plot device to gain the sympathy of Dickens' readers for Emily.

John Forster , Dickens's early biographer, praises the bourgeois or middle-class values and ideology found in David Copperfield. Gateth Cordery takes a close look at class consciousness. According to him, Copperfield's relationship with aristocrat Steerforth and the humble Uriah Heep is "crucial".

The Peggotty family, in Chapter 3, treat him with respect, "as a visitor of distinction"; even at Murdstone and Grinby, his behaviour and clothes earned him the title of "the little gentleman". When he reached adulthood, he naturally enjoyed Steerforth's disdain for Ham as a simple "joke about the poor". So he is predisposed to succumb, by what he calls in chapter 7 an "inborn power of attraction", to the charm instinctively lent to beautiful people, about which David said "a kind of enchantment. In parallel there is a contempt of the upstart, Heep, hatred of the same nature as Copperfield's senseless adoration for Steerforth, but inverted.

That ' umble Heep goes from a lowly clerk to an associate at Wickfield's, to claiming to win the hand of Agnes, daughter of his boss, is intolerable to David, though it is very similar to his own efforts to go from shorthand clerk to literary fame, with Dora Spenlow, the daughter of his employer.


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Another concern of Dickens is the institution of marriage and in particular the unenviable place occupied by women. Whether at the home of Wickfield, Strong, or under the Peggotty boat, women are vulnerable to predators or intruders like Uriah Heep, Jack Maldon, James Steerforth; Murdstone's firmness prevails up to the death of two wives; with David and Dora complete incompetence reigns; and at the Micawber household, love and chaos go hand in hand; while Aunt Betsey is subjected to blackmail by her mysterious husband.

Dickens, according to Gareth Cordery, clearly attacks the official status of marriage, which perpetuated an inequality between the sexes, an injustice that does not end with the separation of couples. The mid-Victorian era saw change in gender roles, for men and women, in part forced by the factories and separation of work and home, which made stereotypes of the woman at home and the man working away from home.

Dickens's understanding of the burden on women in marriage in this novel contrasts with his treatment of his own wife Catherine , whom he expected to be an Angel in the House. Martha Endell and Emily Peggotty, the two friends in Yarmouth who work at the undertaker's house, reflect Dickens's commitment to "save" so-called fallen women.


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Dickens was co-found with Angela Burdett-Coutts Urania Cottage, a home for young women who had "turned to a life of immorality", including theft and prostitution. After Steerforth deserts her, she doesn't go back home, because she has disgraced herself and her family. Her uncle, Mr Peggotty, finds her in London on the brink of being forced into prostitution. So that she may have a fresh start away from her now degraded reputation, she and her uncle emigrate to Australia.