David Copperfield: Chapter 11 - Critical Summary

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Chapter 11: I Begin Life on My Own Account, and Don't Like It

      David was sent to work by his step-father Mr. Murdstone at Messrs. Murdstone and Grinby's wine warehouse. He was only ten years of age when he was employed to examine the empty wine bottles, reject the flawed ones, and rinse and wash the remaining bottles. Mick Walker and Mealy Potatoes were his colleagues who worked at the same job as David's. At dinner time Mr. Micawber was introduced to David. Mr. Micawber was a stoutish, middle-aged bald man, who was a commission-agent for the firm. He agreed to take David as his lodger.

      Mr. Micawber arrived at about eight as promised and took David to his lodging at Windsor Terrace, City Road. One reaching there, David met Mrs. Micawber, her children, and Orfling, who was the servant to the family. Mrs. Micawber confided in David about her husband's difficulties.

      David had no idea why Mrs. Micawber was confessing all of her family business to David. At any rate, she totally took David into her confidence.

      David became quite fond of the family. Mrs. Micawber confided in David on all matters. Their misery was heart rending but they were always hopeful that something would turn up to make their life better. In order to meet the necessary expenses, Mrs. Micawher would either pawn or sell her household goods. At last, crisis overtook them and Mr. Micawber was arrested and sent to the King's Bench in the Borough. After a while, Mrs. Micawber too moved over to the prison house and David hired a room close by so as to visit them almost daily.

      Mr. Micawber affairs were somewhat involved due to a certain ’Deed’. At last, this document was got out of the way and Mr. Micawber at the advice of his wife's family, set out to draft a petition to the House of Commons, praying for his release under the Insolvent Debtors Act. The petition was embossed on an immense sheet of paper and spread out on the table for all who wished to sign it. The petition was signed in the presence of David, by most of the prisoners. Captain Hopkins, too, was there. He read the petition aloud to the prisoners to persuade them to sign. They were all strongly in support of Mr. Micawber's petition and signed it.

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