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    David Copperfield Essay (1842 words)

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    English Coursework- How are the young David and Cassie presented as victims in the novels, ‘David Copperfield’ and ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry’? My coursework is about the novels ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry’ and ‘David Copperfield’. Both novels concentrate on the main character and the treatment they receive. ‘David Copperfield’ was written in 1850 and ‘Roll of Thunder… ‘ was written in 1977. The narrator in ‘David Copperfield’ is remembering his past life and experiences. As he becomes older in the book his life changes.

    In this piece of coursework I will write about the similarities and differences of David Copperfield and Cassie Logan as victims. I will write about each characters home life, school experiences, their treatment from others and how they each respond to the treatment. David is born into a loving family. However, as he gets older, he is victimized by Mr. Murdstone. When David is first born his young mother Clara and kind nurse Peggotty make his home life seem quite idyllic. David is treated well by Clara and Peggotty and is sheltered from the outside world. However, Clara soon meets Mr. Murdstone, who she falls in love with.

    David is not pleased for this man to enter into his life. ‘I didn’t like him or his deep voice… ‘ (27) This indicates that David is skeptical about Mr. Murdstone and perhaps that he is worried for himself and his mother when this man is present. When Clara and Mr. Murdstone are married, David is treated poorly by Mr. Murdstone and is beaten badly. ‘ He beat me then, as if he would have beaten me to death. ‘ (58) This describes that the pain David felt was like being beaten to death. Here we sympathize with David and feel that his treatment is both cruel and unfair.

    However, in mid-Victorian times this kind of treatment was more acceptable. Cassie’s home life is quite different, but her family as a whole are victimized for being African American . She is raised into a loving family that treats her well and cares for her a great deal. Cassie is taught to be strong and to make a stand for what she believes in. Her family is like a team in the way that they come together when times are bad and they all care for one another. Cassie’s family are victims of racism.

    Mama tells Cassie that, “Everybody on this earth is something and nobody… is better than anybody else. ” (97) This shows that Mrs. Logan believes that racism is wrong and she tries to teach her children that although the colour of their skin should not affect how they are treated, they live in a time of inequality and injustice. At school David is a victim of bullying. When David is sent to school for biting Mr. Murdstone, he is made to a wear a plaque with the words “Take care of him. He bites. ” (74) We can see that David feels scared and ashamed of wearing the placard and he begins to think that he does actually bite. This experience makes David feel condemned and vulnerable and it greatly lowers his self-esteem, ‘ What I suffered from that placard nobody can imagine.

    ‘ (75) This indicates that David’s time at school is not pleasant and he suffers mentally from wearing the plaque. Similarly Cassie’s time at school is also unpleasant. However, Cassie and Little Man are victims of racism. On her first day of a new term Cassie, Little Man, Stacey and Christopher-John are splashed with dirt by the white children’s bus. Cassie describes the bus as ‘a huge yellow dragon breathing fire. ‘ (14) Mildred Taylor uses this simile to convey how big and powerful the bus is. Using the words ‘breathing fire’ describes how the dust, that the bus creates as it goes past the children, encapsulates them like a fire spreading.

    Also on Cassie’s first day, she is whipped for not accepting the book she was given. This is because on the front page of the book under condition of book and race of student were the words, ‘ Very poor’ and ‘nigra’. This shows that the board of education and people of this time thought that because the student who last had the book was black, it meant that it would be in bad condition, despite the fact that it was a very old book. Little Man and Cassie are angry at what is written under race of student. “S-see what they called us? ” (24) The African American students had been called ‘nigra’.

    This does not begin with a capital letter, which shows that African American people were not considered to be important. Cassie’s school experiences show that racism was present in this time and that Cassie and her family were subject to this even at school. David is also a victim of bullying from those in power. On his way to Dover he meets a ‘tinker’. The man is very aggressive and violent and demands that David give him money. “Come here when your called or I’ll rip your young body open. ” This shows that David is given no respect and is treated badly even by strangers.

    This man has power over David simply because he is older and stronger than David is. David is also presented by Dickens as a victim of Mr. Creakles’s bullying. Mr. Creakle enjoys tormenting children and likes to feel in power. Mr. Creakle is the one who forces David to wear the plaque and he teases David about it, “This is the young gentleman whose teeth are to be filed. ” Again we feel sympathetic towards David as he has done nothing wrong to deserve this cruel treatment and he has only just left the cruelty of the Murdstones. Also David is sent by Mr.

    Murdstone to work in a blacking factory. We feel sorry for David here because we have a clear understanding of the terrible conditions that appear to be accurate, as we know that Dickens himself lived in these times. Cassie is also a victim of poor treatment from those in power. In Strawberry, a white child named Lillian Jean knocks Cassie down and then Cassie is made to apologize by Lillian’s father. “When my gal Lillian Jean says for you to get yo’self off the sidewalk, you get… ” This man has power because he is white. Cassie is nai?? ve and believes that she shouldn’t have to apologize.

    However, even though we as readers know that morally Cassie is right, the white people are in power and if Cassie does not apologize, things could be worse in the long run for her and her family. Both Cassie and David do not have many true friends. David’s friends are more like family such as Peggotty and Mr. Peggotty. David thinks that Steerforth is a good friend and is a superior being to look up to. However, Steerforth is manipulating David and using him for his own interests. ‘This treasure… I laid at the feet of Steerforth, and begged him to dispense.

    ” (87) This shows that David values what he has been given and he thinks so highly of Steerforth that he should be in charge of it. TJ is supposedly a friend to Cassie and her family, but the author portrays him as cowardly and conniving. ‘TJ turned reluctantly away… ‘ This shows that sometimes TJ spoke to his friends in order to show off, but when it came to doing something, he was not brave enough. Many strangers take advantage of David and victimize him for being young and nai?? ve. On his way to London a waiter tricks David out of his food and his money. Because this man sees that David is gullible, he tells him stories. “Oh lord…

    That’s the school where they broke the boys ribs… ” (67) The waiter does this to scare David for his own pleasure. Here Dickens portrays David as a kind and generous person who gives away the money that he needs to satisfy someone else. This shows how David as a character is a victim. It is because David is a caring person that he loses out. ‘I was very much concerned for his misfortunes… ‘ (67) David is nai?? ve and cannot see that he is being tricked into feeling sympathy for a man who does not deserve it. Cassie’s character is very headstrong and independent, and it is because of this that she sometimes gets herself into trouble.

    She is a victim of racism and strongly believes in equality and that colour and race shouldn’t matter. But Cassie lives in a country where slavery has just been abolished and there are still people that believe African Americans should be treated differently. It is Mama and Big Ma that try to teach Cassie that although what they believe in is right if they fight against the white people they could be killed. The Ku Klux Klan are very dangerous men and they visit Cassie and her family at home during the night. ‘The man walked slowly up the drive. I stopped breathing.

    ‘ (54) This describes how Cassie was so terrified of what was happening that she couldn’t breathe and ‘trembling racked her body. ‘ Cassie and her family have to be extremely careful because they know that these men could easily kill them. David as a victim does not often respond to his treatment. It is only when he is beaten by Mr. Murdstone that he reacts. ‘I caught the hand… and bit it through. ‘ (58) Here we can see that David had to defend himself and we also see that he is a kind person as he feels a great deal of guilt about what he has done and starts to think that he is actually a bad person.

    Cassie often responds to her treatment. For example she fights Lillian Jean after the incident at Strawberry. She also gets back at the white children by helping Stacey and the others to dig around their bus. Cassie sometimes gets in trouble for defending herself and others, but she is also very clever in the way that she asked Mama to put her hair in braids the day she planned to fight Lillian Jean. Cassie is quite nai?? ve because she thinks she can change the minds of others that are prejudiced. However, she creates more trouble for herself and her family.

    I think both characters are victims in the novels. David is a victim of beating and brutal punishment and Cassie a victim of racism. I feel that the treatment they receive is both cruel and unfair. At the time the novels were written, this kind of behavior and treatment of others was accepted as a way of life. As a reader I live in a time where equality is much stronger and racism is not as harsh. This is perhaps why to me the treatment of Cassie and David seems so poor and unfair. Dickens and Taylor both want the reader to sympathize with the characters and as a reader I do.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    David Copperfield Essay (1842 words). (2017, Nov 11). Retrieved from

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