David Copperfield was born half-orphaned – six months after the death of his father. It so happened that when he was born, his father’s aunt, Miss Betsey Trotwood, was present-her marriage was so unfortunate that she became a muzhinenavistnitsey, returned to the girl’s name and settled in the wilderness. Before the nephew’s marriage, she was very fond of him, but was reconciled to his choice and came to meet his wife only six months after his death. Miss Betsey expressed her desire to become the godmother of the newborn girl (she wanted the girl to be born), asked her to name her Betsey Trotwood Copperfield, and set out to “properly educate her,” guarding against all possible mistakes. Learning that the boy was born, she was so disappointed that, without saying goodbye, she left her nephew’s house forever.
As a child, David is surrounded by the care and love of his mother and nanny Peggotty. But his mother is getting married a second time.
During the honeymoon, David and his nanny are sent to Yarmouth, to stay with Brother Peggotty. So he first appears in a hospitable house-boat and gets acquainted with its inhabitants: Mr. Peggotty, his nephew Ham, his niece Emly (David falls in love with her) and the widow of his companion, Mrs. Gummidge.
Returning home, David finds there “new dad” – Mr. Mardstone and a completely changed mother: now she is afraid to caress him and in everything submits to her husband. When they also have Mr. Mardstone’s sister, the boy’s life becomes completely unbearable. The Mardstons are very proud of their firmness, meaning under it “the tyrannical, gloomy, arrogant, diabolical temperament inherent in both of them.” The boy is taught at home; under the fierce looks of his stepfather and his sister, he is dumb with fear and can not answer the lesson. The only joy of his life is his father’s books, which, fortunately, were in his room. For poor schooling, they deprive him of lunch, they give him slippers; finally, Mr. Mardston decides to resort to flogging. As soon as the first blow fell on David, he bit his stepfather’s hand.