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Style

Chapter Design David Copperfield was serialized in monthly, one-shilling installments from May 1849 to November 1850. Dickens knew that serialization affected his audience's reading experience. He carefully constructed these installments so that each part relates to other parts and constitutes a complete unit in itself. He was concerned not only with David Copperfield's installment arrangement, but also with the design of each installment's chapters, the only narrative units over which he had full control. Serial publication caused Victorian readers to pause between issues. Read aloud by fathers to their families, these installments provided home entertainment much like an ongoing television series does in the twenty-first century. Chapters in David Copperfield mark new beginnings or hindrances for David as they move the plot ahead, thus tantalizing readers. The beginning and ending of chapters become narrative stress points, crucial in emphasizing the novel's thematic messages as well as providing a cliff-hanging effect to motivate readers to buy the next installment. Dickens's use of chapter titles marks this natural stress point and presents readers with important details that foreshadow David's future experiences and suggest a way to understand them. Often chapter titles mark important stages in David's life, such as in chapter 3, "I Have a Change," announcing his trip to Yarmouth where he meets the Peggottys who will have a crucial effect on his development. The end of chapter 2 nicely sets up this change as it shows David's apprehension over leaving his mother and going off with Peggotty to a new place. Others, such as chapter 4, not only note a new development in David's life, but also suggest the effect that it will have on him. The title announces, "I Fall Into Disgrace," announcing the upcoming change in his household as well as the change in his relationship with his mother and the end of his idyllic childhood. Dickens constructs the end of the previous chapter to anticipate this upcoming change when he ends it with David's being frightened by Murdstone's ferocious dog. Dickens's chapter construction was affected by artistic issues and finances; the author created a plot that could handle these divisions, and he knew he would make more money on affordable installments than on attempting to market the novel in one or more, much more costly volumes. Bildungsroman David Copperfield is a bildungsroman, a novel that tells the story of maturation, of growing up. This novel presents itself as an autobiography with the mature David Copperfield writing his life story beginning with what he has been told about his birth. He wonders in the first lines of the novel if he will prove to be the hero of his own tale, but in this novel form the central character moving through adolescence into adulthood is most certainly its hero, the protagonist. The structure of the bildungsroman involves a movement from nave innocence and total inexperience through a series of mishaps and

apprenticeships toward a more mature state of experienced knowledge about the world and self-confidence. Though David Copperfield's world is a mixture of sweetness and corruption, he is not corrupted, though he is temporarily misled, as in trusting Steerforth, for example. The mature narrator shares the adult reader's worldly view of the novel's characters, sorry for the ways in which the child David is mistreated and happy about how bad people get what they deserve, as is the case with Uriah Heep, and about how good people come along to be all right in the end, as is the case with the Peggottys and the Micawbers in their new lives in Australia. At the same time, the narrator sympathetically portrays the world from the child's point of view, drawing in youthful readers by telling a story about a hero with whom they can identify.