David Copperfield Essay

1336 words - 6 pages

ABC and 123
Six years old and terrified, my palms were sweating and my anxious eyes shifted from the clock to the doorknob as I sat in the principal’s office awaiting for Mr. Jeffery to come inside and deal me my punishment. I was enrolled at a very strict Catholic school that believed in reprimanding students with a paddle. I was sent to the principle’s office because I had not eaten all of my peas during lunch, and the rule was everything must be gone from your plate before you can go outside. It had been an unlucky day, in my mind the lunch lady must have known I despised peas. Therefore I watched as she put an extra helping onto my plate. Feeling rebellious, I threw my lunch away ...view middle of the document...

You could say that David was spoiled with the kind treatment of Peggotty and his mother Clara. Her sweet nature and infinite love for her son made the atmosphere for his at home learning very desirable and almost unrealistic. He learns the "alphabet at his mother's knee." (Dickens 53), and reads to Peggotty from the Crocodile book, developing his imagination. Like most children in England, David was taught the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic by his mother through home schooling. “I had been apt enough to learn, and willing enough when my mother and I had lived alone together.” (Dickens 53). Because of his mother’s sweet demeanor, Davy had enjoyed learning and did not find it strenuous. Education in this country, beginning around the late seventeen hundreds, consisted mostly of learning life skills from doing chores and meeting the daily needs of the home. “Basic reading and arithmetic were thrown in by those parents who knew them.” (History of Homeschooling) As we continue to read the novel, we see that young David was very naïve in the fact that not every school or teacher possessed the same caring and nurturing environment as his mother’s home schooling.
The day Davy‘s mother marries Mr. Murdstone everything will change for the worst, including how Davy will be educated. David is no longer allowed to be young and carefree and most importantly his love for reading and learning new things become more of a punishment rather than a bonding experience with his mother. Mr. and Mrs. Murdstone come to the conclusion that Clara’s way of teaching is unproductive and to gentle. “The very sight of these two had such and influence over me, that I begin to feel the words I have been at infinite pains to get into my head, all sliding away, and going I don’t know where.” (Dickens 53.) Instead, they feel that lessons which are closely regimented and strict consequences is what is best for David. Rather than being understanding of David and simple mistakes that are often made by children of his age, Mr. Murdstone is adamant that failure is unacceptable, and will not be tolerated. His cruel nature intimidates Davy and often causes him to stumble on his daily lessons. “I hand the first book to my mother. Perhaps it is a grammar, perhaps a history, or geography. I take a last drowning look at the page as I give it into her hand, and start off aloud at a racing pace while I have got it fresh. I trip over a word. Mr. Murdstone looks up. I trip over another word. Miss Murdstone looks up. I redden, tumble over half-a-dozen words, and stop. I think my mother would show me the book if she dared, but she does not dare.” (Dickens 53). From this quote we can gather that by treating a child with cruelty you get an unhappy and unproductive kid. However, if you treat them with kindness such as Clara did you create a child that is eager and happy to learn. In...

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