Dickens Gift of Story Telling in David Copperfield

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     A story may be defined as a series of connected events, true or fictitious, that is written or told with the intention of entertaining or informing. It is a narrative of events arranged in their time sequence. And since the story is the backbone of a novel, the art of story-telling is one of the basic qualifications of a novelist.

Characteristics of Dickens's Art of Story-telling

      Dickens's David Copperfield like many of his other novels appeared originally in serial form. The greatest problem that the serial form of publication poses before an author is the problem of keeping the interest of the readers sustained from one installment to another. For this, the story has to be very interesting and the reader should be kept guessing as to what's going to happen in the next installment. The reader should be left with an eagerness to look forward to the next installment. And Dickens is a master at this game. He measures up perfectly to the standard which T.S. Eliot sets forth in these words, "We cannot afford to forget that the first - and not one of the least difficult-requirements of either prose or verse is that it should be interesting." And Dickens has been able to surmount this difficulty. It is interesting, if we look back to his day we find how eagerly his readers looked forward to the next installments of his novels.

Narration in the First Person

      According to Angus Wilson David Copperfield".... has a claim to be his best work of art if we look for unity of narration, development, and above all that sense of intermingled comedy and tragedy, laughter and tears, and so on, that Tolstoy has set up as the norms of great great realism..." The narrative in David Copperfield is in the first person and it is obvious that the emotional identification of Dickens with David is very strong. Descriptions of Dickens's own experiences, feelings and emotions have given a singular intensity to the story of David.

      There are many exaggerated characters but they manage to keep our interest for this very reason. However, it would be wrong to say that David Copperfield is an out-and-out fairy tale. The most we can say of this novel is that it is a down-to-earth story of living human beings with all their virtues and vices but it nevertheless reads like a fairy tale.


      Dickens in his days was immensely popular and even today he is read quite often. It was his art of story-telling which gave him such popularity. Except for Shakespeare and Scott, there is probably no other English writer who can match him in this respect. As Quiller-Couch puts it, "You feel of Dickens as of Shakespeare that anything may happen: because it is not with them as with other authors; it is not they who speak; Falstaff or Hamlet or Sam Weller or Mr. Micawber: it is the god speaking." It is true that Dickens, the god, had a love for exaggeration and melodramas which is positively a weakness in an author but in Dickens, this very weakness turns to strength and captivates our interest and imagination.

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