An analysis on the social problems of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Faizah, Nurul (2007) An analysis on the social problems of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Undergraduate thesis, Universitas Islam Negeri Maulana Malik Ibrahim.

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Social problems is a condition in society that is considered harmful or undesirable by society as a whole, based on existing social values and in respect of which it is believed that amelioration is possible.

In this case, the researcher interested in analyzing one of popular novels, i.e. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, one of the great English novelists of the Victorian era. The researcher is analysis on social problems. She chooses this because it can increases her knowledge and experience about human problems. David Copperfield is partly autobiographical of the life of the writer himself and this novel is often considered to be Dickens’ great novel. Furthermore, there are many kinds of social problems happen in this story.

Then, this research is aimed at finding the kind of social problems happened in David Copperfield. The researcher limits her study only on the social problems occurred in English society in the nineteenth century as shown in the novel. They are gap between social class, poverty, discrimination in education, and unfair treatment in working class.

To give clear description of how this study is conducted the researcher uses literary criticism as her research design in the novel David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. She uses structural approach. Structural approach is an approach that is used to analyze a literary work by interpreting and focusing on the text alone, apart from the author and reader.

Furthermore, in this novel the researcher finds some social problems such as gap between social class, poverty, discrimination in education, and unfair treatment in working class.

Social class is divided into rich and poor. Social class in Victorian period as it described in the novel is still much more strictly divided into rich and poor, we can see the differences of this society or gap between social class by observing their house and position. The rich people in David Copperfield is represented by the Steerforths with their luxurious house and good position in society, so that they can do anything what they like. As a rich woman Mrs. Steerforth is very proud. She never allows Emily to become her daughter-in-law because of their position is different in society. Emily just poor woman and it is impossible if Emily marriage with her sons. Mrs. Steerforth thinks that if Emily marriage with Steerforth it could irretrievably blights her son's career and ruins his prospects. On the contrary, the Micawbers as representative of poor people live in poverty. They stay in a house which is very scantily furnished. Mr. Micawber never has any money to buy food or furniture for his house.

Then, poverty problems in David Copperfield represented by the life of Martha Endell, David Copperfield, and Mr. Micawber. We can know it by observing their dwellings and food. Martha lives in a slum area of London, among the rubbish of the riverside. Her poverty has caused physical and psychological effects for her. David’s dwelling in Murdstone and Grinby’s warehouse, when he is forced to work there by his stepfather, is very bad. The house is dirty and overrun with rats. As a working class boy David is paid very low. Because of this low wage, he eats insufficiently and unsatisfactorily food. Then we can see poverty from Mr. Micawber, who is poor people, but he is very improvident. Poverty makes him always loan money from other peoples, but he never can to pay his debt. One morning, Mr. Micawbers faces to difficulties crisis again because of he cannot pay his debt. He carried over to the King’s Bench Prison in the Borrough.

In this novel the discrimination in education still happen at Salem House School. From Steerforth and Traddles we can see. They are come from different class. James Steerforth, one of student in Salem House who is come from rich family always gets a good treatment and good position in that school. He always gets different service rather than other student who comes
from poor family. He never gets punishment from his wrong. On the contrary, Tommy Traddles who is unlucky boy and come from poor family always get punishment from his headmaster. He always gets bad treatment from him.

Working class consists of adults and children, men and boys. David Copperfield experiences the unpleasant situation, when he is forced to work at warehouse for long hours; it is about twelve hours with low wage, only six shilling a week. These long hours of work and low salary are the most general problems of early industrial working class.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Supervisor: Masitoh, Siti
Keywords: Social Problems; David Copperfield; Charles Dickens
Departement: Fakultas Humaniora > Jurusan Bahasa dan Sastra Inggris
Depositing User: Dian Anesti
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2016 10:17
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2016 10:17

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