-- Virginia Woolf
With the encouragement of his outspoken aunt Betsy, David embarks on a career as a solicitor, but first, he returns to the Peggotty's, where he finds Peggotty now a happily married woman -- Mrs. Barkis. Along with David comes his handsome school friend Steerforth, and he learns that he is no longer in Steerforth's shadow, but has become a young man of his own. Returning to London, David meets Dora Spenlow, a beautiful, but shallow young woman with whom he falls desperately in love. A sudden tragedy -- the death of Peggotty's husband Barkis -- brings David back to the seashore, where he finds his childhood friend little Em'ly about to marry the honest, loving Ham. But Em'ly falls prey to the charms of Steerforth, and abandons Ham at the altar, thinking that Steerforth will "make her a lady." But Steerforth, of course, does nothing of the sort. He abandons Em'ly, who becomes a "ruined woman." David eventually marries Dora -- who proves to be ill-suited to the married life. Meanwhile, the treacherous Uriah Heep has been weaving his web, destroying the Strongs, Aunt Betsy, and the Micawbers through his fraud and deceit. All is put right in the end, in part from the unlikely heroism of a grown-up Tommy Traddles. Dora tragically dies. Little Em'ly is rescued and reunited with Mr. Peggotty. Ham dies tragically during a terrible storm while trying to rescue the wicked Steerforth (who, for his own part, does not end well), and after David overcomes his grief, he realizes that, all along, he has loved Agnes Wickfield best, and she, him -- and they marry -- she becomes his "bright star, ever pointing upward." At first it may seem that Dickens' characters are too "black and white," too obviously either good or evil, and his stories long, complex, and perhaps not immediately clear as to their plot and meaning. David Copperfield is the story of David's life, and the people and events who make him what he is -- nothing more, and nothing less. Heep, and only Heep, is the liar and the cheat! Of course -- David Copperfield is perhaps Dickens' greatest achievement, with many of his richest and most memorable characters, and certainly his richest writing.
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