David Copperfield: Chapter 4 - Critical Summary

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Chapter 4: I Fall Into Disgrace

      David did not like the marriage of his mother. He wept bitterly in his room. His mother and the nurse tired to console him. Just then Mr. Murdstone entered the room and asked them to leave. When they had left he threatened to beat David if he was obstinate or disobedient. He ordered him to wash his face and accompany him downstairs to the dining room. David did as he was told.

      Just after dinner, Miss Murdstone arrived. She was a metallic lady and as stem as her brother. She had come to stay with them and help Clara with the household work. But very soon she took complete charge from Clara and compelled David's mother to hand over the keys to her. David was not allowed to mix freely with his mother. Clara felt utterly helpless as the tyranny under the guise of firmness grew. This completely changed the atmosphere of the house.

      It was decided that David should be taught at home. This tuition at home became a source of daily drudgery and misery. He was punished mercilessly for every little mistake. The presence of Mr. and Miss Murdstone at these teaching sessions made David forget everything. Consequently, David became sullen and dull. The books in the little rooms upstairs were the only company he had in that house. They were his only comforts.

      One day David was severely beaten for forgetting his lessons. David begged of Mr. Murdstone to spare him but the tyrant kept on caning him, as though he would beat him to death. David held his hand in his mouth and bit him. At this Mr. Murdstone became so furious, that he locked him up in a room for five days. David had spent most of the day looking out the window, weeping, and dozing off. On the fifth day Peggotty informed him through the keyhole that he was going to be sent away to school.

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