“Trotwood Copperfield, Uriah Heep and The Flying Illusions”

“It’s a mad world. Mad as Bedlam, boy!” (Bedlam, popular name for the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, London, an insane asylum, from Middle English Bedlem Bethlehem) – David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

The word bedlam, meaning uproar and confusion, is derived from the hospital’s prior nickname. Although the hospital became a modern psychiatric facility, historically it was representative of the worst excesses of asylums in the era of lunacy reform.

“He is quite a good fellow – nobody’s enemy but his own”. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

“As David grows to adulthood, a variety of characters enter, leave, and re-enter his life”. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

“Like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield.” Charles Dickens

Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world’s most memorable fictional characters and is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period. During his life, his works enjoyed unprecedented fame, and by the twentieth century his literary genius was broadly acknowledged by critics and scholars. His novels and short stories continue to be widely popular.

Born in Portsmouth, England, Dickens was forced to leave school to work in a factory when his father was thrown into debtors’ prison. Although he had little formal education, his early impoverishment drove him to succeed. Over his career he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children’s rights, education, and other social reforms.

“The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account)”.

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must shown”. Chapter 1.

David Copperfield is the common name of the eighth novel by Charles Dickens, first published as a novel in 1850. Like most of his works, it originally appeared in serial form during the two preceding years. Many elements of the novel follow events in Dickens’ own life, and it is probably the most autobiographical of his novels.

The story traces the life of David Copperfield from childhood to maturity. David was born in Blunderstone, Suffolk, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, in 1820, six months after the death of his father. David spends his early years with his mother and their housekeeper, Peggotty. When he is seven years old his mother marries Edward Murdstone. David is given good reason to dislike his stepfather and has similar feelings for Murdstone’s sister Jane, who moves into the house soon afterwards. Murdstone attempts to thrash David for falling behind in his studies. David bites him and soon afterwards is sent away to a boarding school, Salem House, with a ruthless headmaster, Mr. Creakle. There he befriends James Steerforth and Tommy Traddles.

“When I lived at home with papa and mama, I really should have hardly understood what the word meant, in the sense in which I now employ it, but experientia does it, — as papa used to say”. Chapter 11.

David returns home for the holidays to learn that his mother has given birth to a baby boy. Shortly after David returns to Salem House, his mother and her baby die, and David returns home immediately. Peggotty marries a man named Mr Barkis. Murdstone sends David to work for a wine merchant in London – a business of which Murdstone is a joint owner. Copperfield’s landlord, Wilkins Micawber, is sent to debtors’ prison (the King’s Bench Prison) and remains there for several months before being released and moving to Plymouth. No one remains to care for David in London, so he decides to run away.

“My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest”. Chapter 42.

Characters

David Copperfield The narrator and protagonist of this pseudo-autobiography. He is characterised in the book as having perseverance, but also an undisciplined heart, which becomes the focal point of the latter part of the book. After being adopted by his aunt Betsey Trotwood, he is called “Trotwood Copperfield” in deference to her wishes. Throughout the novel he has many nicknames: the Peggotty family address him as “Davy”, James Steerforth nicknames him “Daisy”, Dora calls him “Doady”, the Micawbers mostly address him by his last name, and his aunt and her circle refer to him as “Trot”.

Clara Copperfield – Clara Peggotty – Betsey Trotwood – Mr. Chillip – Mr. Barkis – Edward Murdstone:

“David,” said Mr. Murdstone, “to the young this is a world for action; not for moping and droning in.” Chapter 10.

– Jane Murdstone – Daniel Peggotty – Emily (Little Em’ly) – Ham Peggotty – Mrs. Gummidge – Martha Endell – Mr. Creakle – James Steerforth – Tommy Traddles – Wilkins Micawber:

“My other piece of advice, Copperfield,” said Mr. Micawber, “you know. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and — and in short you are for ever floored. As I am!” Chapter 12.

Emma Micawber – Mr. Dick (Richard Babley):

“It’s very strange,” said Mr. Dick … “that I never can get that quite right; I never can make that perfectly clear.” Chapter 14.

– Mr. Wickfield – Agnes Wickfield – Dr. Strong – Anne (Annie) Strong – Jack Maldon – Mrs. Markleham – Mrs. Steerforth – Rosa Dartle – Mr. Spenlow – Dora Spenlow – Littimer – Miss Mowcher – Mr. Mell – Sophy Crewler – Mr. Sharp – Mr Jorkins – Mrs. Heep and:

Uriah Heep The main antagonist of the novel’s second half, Heep is a disturbing young man who serves first as secretary, and then as partner to Mr. Wickfield. The archetypal hypocrite, he appears to be extremely self-deprecating and talks constantly of being “‘umble”, but gradually reveals his wicked and twisted character. He gains great power over Wickfield and several others, but is finally discovered – by Wilkins Micawber – to be guilty of multiple acts of fraud. By forging Mr. Wickfield’s signature, he has misappropriated the personal wealth of the Wickfield family, together with portfolios entrusted to them by others, including £5000 belonging to Betsey Trotwood. He has fooled Wickfield into thinking he has himself committed this act while drunk, and then blackmailed him. Heep is eventually forced to return the forged documents and stolen capital; he is thus defeated but not prosecuted. He is later imprisoned for an (unrelated) attempted fraud on the Bank of England. He nurtures a deep hatred of David Copperfield and of many others.

Like most of Charles Dickens’ novels, David Copperfield was published in 19 monthly one-shilling instalments, containing 32 pages of text and two illustrations by Hablot Knight Browne (“Phiz”)

David Copperfield (born David Seth Kotkin; September 16, 1956) is an American illusionist, and has been described by Forbes as the most commercially successful magician in history.

Copperfield’s television specials have won 21 Emmy Awards of a total 38 nominations. Best known for his combination of storytelling and illusion, Copperfield’s career of over 30 years has earned him 11 Guinness World Records, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a knighthood by the French government.

“I’m really trying hard not to do anything that has been done before. So knowing everything I can about the legacy of magic challenges my team and I to invent new illusions”. David Copperfield

“When you’re a guy and meet a girl the first time, you do whatever it takes”. David Copperfield

Copperfield was engaged to supermodel Claudia Schiffer for six years; the couple separated in 1999 citing work schedules. They had met in 1993 at a Berlin celebrity gala when he brought her on stage to participate in a mind reading act and his flying illusion. While they were engaged, Schiffer sometimes appeared on stage with Copperfield to act as his special guest assistant in illusions including being sawn in half. She also appeared alongside Copperfield in David Copperfield: 15 Years of Magic, in which she played the role of a reporter interviewing him, and during which they reprised their performance of the ‘Flying’ illusion.

“I used to fly around the stage without strings or camera tricks. That took seven years to create”. David Copperfield

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