I Scrap Your Back You Scrap Mine

I Scrap Your Back, You Scrap Mine! Essay, Research Paper

Book report 1

Author:Charles Dickens

Title:David Copperfield



Six months after the death of his father, David Copperfiel is born at Blunderstone together with his mother and their loyal female help Peggotty. He has no complaints about his youth. The relationship with his only parent, his mother is quite good. But after his mother secretly marries Mr Murdstone it starts to get worse. Mr Murdstone is a cold, mean man who dominates the relationship between David and mum. Mr Murdstone only seems to love her money.

His dictatorial stepfather sends him as a result of revolting to the boarding school “Salem House”. At the terrible school his only way to survive is to have friends. He makes two new friends. The briliant James Steerforth and the intense kind-hearted Tommy Traddles. At his tenth birthday he suddenly has got to leave the school. His mother namely died. Miss Peggotty is fired by Murdstone after ages of loyal work. He can’t stay home and is send to London. There he works for a man who ends up in prison. After this man (Micawber) goes to prison David hikes to Dover. He still knows he’s got an aunt in Dover. Aunt Betsey Trotwood has never been fond of David. When Davids mother was pregnant she hoped that she would get a daughter. Because then its name would be Betsey. But when the desperate David rings her bell she forgets all her disapointments and invites him to stay. But he’s obliged to succeed his school. During his schooltime he lives in the house of Mr Wickfield and his beautiful daugther Agnes. David falls in love. After he graduated he goes back to London and becomes a student clerk for the lawyer office “Spenlow and Jorkins”.

In London he sees his old mate Steerforth and they’re inseparable again. Steerforth introduces David to Dora and not long after that first meeting David and Dora marry. When Agnes finds out David has got a wive she’s devistated. Dora dies later of a strange disease. Davids youthlove finally becomes the love of his live. He confesses Agnes his love for her and he re-marries.

Expectations before reading:

The first thing I thougt about when I saw the title was the famous magician who also is the husband of supermodel Claudia Schiffer. Almost every mediastar has got an artist-name and a real name. I was wondering, expecting him to have an artist-name, whether this book was occassion or not. He could have been impressed by Davids character.

Because the title of the book was a male name I thought this book was an autobiography. Almost every writer who writes an autobiography uses fictive names.

Further I expected David Copperfield to be a very succesful man with a strong character. This because I was still thinking about why the famous magician chose “David Copperfield” to be his artist name.

I’ve got to admit I know very little about English literature. I already knew Dickens of course, and I knew he wrote “Olliver Twist”, but I didn’t know what to expect about this book. I was a bit ashamed when I read this novel was one of the best sold English books ever.

What of my expectations turned out wright?

I still don’t if our magician had this book influence his artist-name. But I’m intend to find out and promise next book report will tell you more.

This book isn’t an autobiography but it has got autobiographical elements. His father is played in this book by Mr Micawber. His real dad had enormous debts and lived some time in prison with his family. Both Charles and David became reporter and novelwriter.

David Copperfield did have a strong character. Every hindrance hindrance in live was taken with much confidence. He believed in hisself and wasn’t afraid to show his opinion. Because of this character feature he was send to a boarding school which in my eyes his better than to grow up with a very strict stepfather. In this way at least he could be hisself a little bit.

He became a good witer/reporter and got happy in his love live, if you ask me he’s been succesful.


Every time I read a book that has a child with a bit of a traumatic first 15 years of his live I thank God on my naked knies ( Dutch expression) that I had an almost problemless youth. If you don’t have got a father or mother only at your tenth birthday, you have got very bad luck. Your parents should raise you, teach you manners and tell you something about their knowledge of life. David had to raise hisself. He was on a boarding school, but the book is so negative about the school I can’t believe it educates his character.

A couple of times I wondered what foolish mistake he this time made. When he married Dora I was desperate. How could he marry a girl like Dora if he could get a girl who fits much better with him, Agnes. That moment I thought he blew up his lovelife. But an unfortuned accident became quite fortuned for him. Because of Dora’s death he could start looking again for the biggest love of his live, Agnes. It gave me a warm feeling inside when the two of them finally came together.

Most remarqueble piece of the book:

I found the most remarqueble and important piece of the book the moment he leaves Dover to go to London again. He chooses to become a lawyer and leaves his beloved Agnes. I find it rather strange he hardly contacts her. If i would be in love I would call that lucky person almost every day. He prefers his carrier to his love. A bit of a strange choice if you ask me. At that point he could just ruin his live. He just goes to London. It doesn’t seem to be so hard for him. It’s a very important choice in live and he doesn’t worry to much. To me it would be an enormously difficult choice. Very likely you can’t have both good. When you choose carrier, your carrier might succeed but your love might be ruined. If you chose love your carrier doen’st look that nice anymore.

Most interesting person of the book:

This time I don’t choose the main figure but Mr Murdstone. He is probable the innerself ugliest person. But whether he likes it or not he’s a very important person in Davids youth and raise. David becomes through the tough way of raising a very strong man. A man who doesn’t let anybody fool with him. He becomes a strong figure. People who have got a hard youth grow up fast. By sending him to a boarding school he has already got to leave his beloved home and mother at a very young age. He learns to survive and he learns who he really don’t want to end up like. Like Mr Murdstone.

Murdstone is a bad man and a bad husband. How could you cause a mother so much pain. Doesn’t he have any feelings? Doesn’t he realise what a munster he is? Those kind of people better don’t come in my neighbourhood. The female genus is the weak genus whether you like it or not. We males should take care and look after our females without taking over their lives. Sometimes it might not be to easy, but that’s live. The strong should protect the weak. If you have got any sense of responsibility you fulfill your job. I will never ever hurt a wive in a position as Davids mother. Murdstone tries to take everything away from her. He tries to take her money, he makes her son leave the house. Although he’s the baddest person of this book he gave me the most reason to think about. But at least I know now how I definitely shouldn’t treat my wive.

Book: “Down and out in Paris and London”, George Orwell, 1933.

Eric Arthur Blair (Orwell’s real name) was born in India in 1903. In 1907 the family moved to England, and in 1917 Orwell entered Eton. His first novel, Burmese Days (1934) was inspired by his experiences in Burma, where he served in the Indian Imperial Police between 1922 and 1927. After this, he returned to Europe where he lived in poverty for several years, first in Paris, later in London. He recorded his experiences as a poor man in Down and out in Paris and London (1933). By this time Orwell had managed to find a few simple jobs, and started work on a new novel, The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) in which he describes the poverty he saw when he visited areas of mass unemployment in Lancashire and Yorkshire. In late 1936 Orwell left for Spain to fight for the Republicans in the civil war, and he was wounded. Homage to Catalonia is his account of the civil war. After leaving the sanatorium where he had been recovering from his wounds, Orwell went to Morocco for half a year, resulting in Coming up for Air. After the Second World War, in which he was a Home Guard and worked for the BBC, Orwell wrote his world-famous Animal Farm (1945), followed in 1949 by the almost equally celebrated Nineteen Eighty-Four.

2. Down and out in Paris and London is, as said before, a description of Orwell’s experiences amongst the poor of Paris and London.

The story starts of in Paris. Orwell is living in a room of an extremely low-class Paris hotel, somewhere in a slum. He makes a modest living by giving English lessons, but suddenly his pupils desert him. To avoid starvation he pawns his clothes, and goes to his Russian friend Boris, who might be able to supply him with a job. But Orwell finds Boris himself out of a job, and the two men decide to search for a job together. They apply for hundreds of jobs, but fail to find one for weeks. They are near starvation when their luck turns at last, finding jobs at an expensive hotel; Orwell as a plongeur or dishwasher, Boris as a waiter. They are horribly underpaid and have to work under disgusting circumstances, and they leave the hotel after a month, having found alternative jobs at a newly opened restaurant. The new jobs are even worse than the previous, so Orwell writes to a friend of his in England. The friend answers that he has found a job for him (looking after an imbecile), and Orwell decides to leave for Britain immediately. On arrival he hears that he can’t start his job for a month, and Orwell is forced to be a tramp for that period, because he has no money and doesn’t want to lend from his friend. He travels from “spike” to “spike” (casual ward). On his way, he makes friends with an Irish tramp, Paddy, and his mate Bozo, who makes paintings on the street. At last the long month is over and Orwell has got himself a stable job, though he is still a poor man.

3. In Down and Out in Paris and London, dozens of characters are described, but none of them are of great importance to the story, and George Orwell does not describe himself. So I will just describe two very interesting characters: Charlie and Boris.

Charlie was a young Parisian man from a good family, “very pink and young, with fresh cheeks and soft brown hair of a nice little boy, and lips excessively red and wet, like cherries (etc.).” He had run away from home and ended up in one of the worst parts of Paris, where George Orwell lived too at the time. Charlie could often be found in a bistro, where he told fascinating stories to the other visitors, of which probably no word was true. His favourite subject was love and prostitutes. Although he appears a lot in Down and Out in London and Paris his life isn’t described very much, as opposed to his stories. I think Orwell wrote about him to give a feeling of the atmosphere in that neighbourhood of Paris.

Boris was a Russian waiter whom Orwell had met in the hospital. He had told Orwell to come to him whenever he was in trouble, so when Orwell was out of work he went to Boris for help, but found the Russian in even worse problems than himself. As they searched for work together, they got to know eachother very well. Boris had had rich parents, but they were killed in the Revolution. In the war, he had served in the army, and that’s why his passion was military history.

“After the war he had first worked in a brush factory, then as a porter at Les Halles, then had become a dishwasher, and finally had worked his way up to be a waiter. (…) His ambition was to become a ma?tre d’H?tel, save fifty thousand francs, and set up a small, select restaurant on the Right Bank.”

After weeks of searching and near-starvation the two men at last find two very heavy jobs for themselves at a hotel, which they leave a month later to go and work in a newly-opened restaurant. Not long after, Orwell leaves for England and Boris is not mentioned again in the book.

4. The theme of the book is poverty and what it does to a man, although in the last part of the book Orwell tries more to break down some common misunderstandings about tramps than describe the effects of poverty on a man’s way of behaving and thinking. To illustrate why I think this is the theme of the book, I will briefly quote one of the passages in which Orwell analyses the poor man’s behaviour: “And yet the plongeurs, low as they are, also have a kind of pride. It is the pride of the drudge-the man who is equal to no matter what quantity of work. At that level, the mere power to go on working like an ox is about the only virtue attainable.”

5. In my opinion, there is no climax in the book, neither is there a key moment. This is not so surprising, as the book is a description of a way of life, not an account of one experience or adventure. In the beginning of the book Orwell is a poor man-in the end he is too, with no real prospects for improvement. So no great change takes place in the story; there is no dramatic incident affecting the rest of the story-there is no key moment or climax.

6. As is usually the case with autobiographic novels, Down and Out in Paris and London is seen through the eyes of the writer, which means that the main character is the “I” person.

7. The style of writing in Down and out in Paris and London is very impressive. There are a lot of descriptions of neighbourhoods, hotels and tramp-hangouts in the book, and they are all very vivid. An example:

The rue du Coq d’Or, Paris, seven in the morning. A succession of furious, choking yells from the street. Madame Monce, who kept the little hotel opposite mine, had come out on to the pavement to address a lodger on the third floor. Her bare feet were stuck into sabots and her grey hair was streaming down.

Madame Monce: ‘Salope! Salope! How many times have I told you not to squash bugs on the wallpaper? Do you think you’ve bought the hotel,eh? Why can’t you throw them out of the window like everyone else? Putain! Salope!’

The woman on the third floor: ‘Vache!’

Thereupon, a whole variegated chorus of yells, as windows were flung open on every side and half the street joined in the quarrel.

The book is written in the past tense, and there is not a lot of dialogue, but there are quite some monologues. The language used is not very complicated, although the sentences are quite long. A lot of the characters use slang, mainly the English ones. In fact, there is a whole list of slang words used in the book, with their meanings.

8. Down and out in Paris and London starts brilliantly; Orwell manages to put you down in the streets of Paris, hear the sounds of the neighbourhood, smell the smells; the characters are also beautifully described. You almost feel hungry when Orwell is starving, and that is exactly what the book is meant to do. Unfortunately, the book grows more and more boring as Orwell tries to get philosophical, in which he quite much fails. The part of the book which plays in London is at points downright boring, although it sometimes does give you new insights.

Overall, I would say this is a good book, but it isn’t a milestone in literary history, like Animal Farm.


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