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David Copperfield (1913)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

The young David lives happily in Suffolk with his mother and Peggoty, the housekeeper, although his father is dead. He observes with foreboding Mr Murdstone's courtship of his mother, and is sent away to Yarmouth when they marry. In Yarmouth, he stays with Peggotty's family in their curious home, formed from an upside-down boat on the beach. Returning home he immediately falls foul of Mr Murdstone, who sends him away from his mother to school. There, he hears that his mother has died in childbirth.

Murdstone puts David to work as a bottle washer in his brewery. Here David lodges with Mr Micawber and his burgeoning family; they become friends. When Micawber, ever in debt, flees London, David walks all the way to Kent to the house of his Aunt, Betsey Trotwood. Happy again, David spends time flying kites with his Aunt's eccentric friend, Mr Dick, and is eventually apprenticed to a solicitor.

Now a grown man, David impulsively marries Dora, a pretty but vacuous girl. David's school friend, Steerforth, elopes with little Emily, Daniel Peggoty's daughter. David helps to track her down in London where she has been abandoned. He confronts Steerforth's family and his former friend absconds, only to be wrecked off Yarmouth where Ham, Emily's former fiancé, is drowned trying to save him.

Meanwhile, Dora has died. At the soliicitor's office of David's employer, Mr Wickfield, David and Micawber expose the villainous Uriah Heep, who is trying to rob Betsey Trotwood of a small inheritance. Mr Micawber decides to emigrate to Australia and David proposes to Mr Wickfield's sensible daughter, Agnes.