David Copperfield

David Copperfield

Clara Copperfield Character Analysis

Clara Copperfield is David's mother. She married his father (also named David) at a very young age, and never fully matures herself; she has no skill when it comes to managing the household, for instance, and she is prone to childish outbursts of temper when someone (typically her servant, Peggotty) draws attention to her more foolish decisions. She is basically good-natured, however, and leads a happy life until she meets Mr. Murdstone, who skillfully plays on her vanity and thoughtlessness in order to seduce her into marriage. Murdstone's attempts to teach his wife "firmness" quickly break her spirit, and although Clara outwardly complies with her husband's wishes, she becomes increasingly anxious and unhappy as time goes on. Her physical health declines after giving birth to a second child, and she dies while David is in his second term at Salem House. The loss of his mother, whom he had idolized, is deeply traumatizing for David, and Dickens implies that it plays a large role in his decision to marry Dora Spenlow—a woman whose personality closely resembles that of Clara Copperfield.

Clara Copperfield Quotes in David Copperfield

The David Copperfield quotes below are all either spoken by Clara Copperfield or refer to Clara Copperfield. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Puffin edition of David Copperfield published in 2013.
Chapter 8 Quotes

Ah, what a strange feeling it was to be going home when it was not home, and to find that every object I looked at, reminded me of the happy old home, which was like a dream I could never dream again! The days when my mother and I and Peggotty were all in all to one another, and there was no one to come between us, rose up before me so sorrowfully on the road, that I am not sure I was glad to be there.

Related Characters: David Copperfield (speaker), Peggotty, Mr. Murdstone , Clara Copperfield
Page Number: 101
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other David Copperfield quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Get the entire David Copperfield LitChart as a printable PDF.
David copperfield.pdf.medium

Clara Copperfield Character Timeline in David Copperfield

The timeline below shows where the character Clara Copperfield appears in David Copperfield. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: I Am Born 
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...are consequently of his father's grave. David's only surviving family members, then, were his mother, Clara, and his father's aunt, Betsey Trotwood. (full context)
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...rift, however, between her and David's father, since Miss Betsey disapproved of his marriage to Clara, whom she describes as a  "wax doll." (full context)
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
David sets the scene for his birth. One Friday afternoon, his mother, Clara, is sitting at home in mourning when she is startled by the appearance of a... (full context)
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
As Clara recovers, Miss Betsey explains that she has come because she wants to help raise Clara's... (full context)
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Peggotty sends her nephew, Ham, to fetch a doctor, who arrives to find Clara settled upstairs and Miss Betsey waiting in the parlor. The doctor, Chillip, is slightly unnerved... (full context)
Chapter 2: I Observe
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...his vivid memory to having retained this skill. David accordingly describes his earliest impressions of Clara, Peggotty, and the home where he grew up. The house is modest but comfortable, and... (full context)
Home and Family Theme Icon
David continues reading and is eventually interrupted by the arrival of Clara, who has been visiting a neighbor. She is accompanied by a handsome man whom David... (full context)
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
David wakes up later to the sound of Peggotty and Clara arguing over whether it is appropriate (and kind to David) for Clara to spend time... (full context)
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
Mr. Murdstone and Clara continue to visit with one another, and the atmosphere at the Rookery becomes subtly tense,... (full context)
Home and Family Theme Icon
...Sheffield," Murdstone's friends question how David feels about "the projected business"—that is, Murdstone's marriage to Clara. Murdstone says he is "not generally favourable." The three men then drink and dine together... (full context)
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
When David and Mr. Murdstone return, Clara questions her son about the day he spent, and is visibly pleased to hear what... (full context)
Home and Family Theme Icon
...he can play with her nephew, Ham, but worries about his mother. He asks whether Clara will let him go, and then whether she won't be lonely without his and Peggotty's... (full context)
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...to leave [his] happy home." Nevertheless, he says it is a comfort to remember how Clara cried and hugged him when he left, though he also noticed, as the cart was... (full context)
Chapter 3: I Have a Change
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...while he is distressed to leave Emily, he finds himself eager to return home to Clara as soon as he and Peggotty are on their way back to Suffolk. (full context)
Home and Family Theme Icon
...David is distressed, so Peggotty leads him into the kitchen, where she awkwardly explains that Clara is not away or dead, but that David has a new "Pa": Clara has remarried.... (full context)
Chapter 4: I Fall Into Disgrace
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
As David sits in his room, thinking sadly about the cold welcome he has received, Clara and Peggotty enter. David is unable to explain what's wrong to his mother, and Clara... (full context)
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
David comes downstairs to hear Mr. Murdstone consoling Clara. Reflecting on this in the present, David says he might have grown into an entirely... (full context)
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...clear that she intends to stay in the house permanently; at breakfast, she announces that Clara is "much too pretty and thoughtless" to occupy herself with housework, and takes charge of... (full context)
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
Miss Murdstone has been acting as housekeeper for some time when Clara finally objects. She says that she knows she lacks the Murdstones' "firmness"—a quality David describes... (full context)
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
...unhappy. Church now frightens him, because of the Murdstones' dour and unforgiving approach to religion. Clara also seems to be growing sickly looking and sad, and David wonders if anyone other... (full context)
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
During this time, David is being tutored by Clara. The lessons terrify David, because Mr. Murdstone and Miss Murdstone are also present and use... (full context)
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
One morning, David comes downstairs to find Clara, Miss Murdstone, and Mr. Murdstone already assembled. Mr. Murdstone, holding a cane, defends the wisdom... (full context)
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...passed, David hears Peggotty whispering to him from outside the door. Peggotty reassures David that Clara is not angry with him, but says that he is going to be sent to... (full context)
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
Miss Murdstone fetches David from his room the next morning and brings him downstairs, where Clara urges him to "try to be better" in the future. However, she embraces her son... (full context)
Chapter 8: My Holidays, Especially One Happy Afternoon
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...his fear of Mr. Murdstone and Miss Murdstone, David enters the house only to hear Clara singing. The sound makes David think of his early childhood, and he approaches to find... (full context)
Home and Family Theme Icon
Mr. Murdstone and Miss Murdstone are out, so David, Clara, and Peggotty spend a happy afternoon together. Over dinner, he relays Barkis's message to Peggotty,... (full context)
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
David, Clara, and Peggotty continue to chat after dinner, David describing his experiences at school and reveling... (full context)
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
This upsets Clara, who accuses Peggotty of being jealous of the baby, and suggests that she should marry... (full context)
Home and Family Theme Icon
...its race," and it is cut short by Mr. Murdstone and Miss Murdstone arriving home. Clara sends David to bed, however, and he does not see the Murdstones until the following... (full context)
Home and Family Theme Icon
A few days later, Clara makes the mistake of comparing David to the baby and remarking that they look similar.... (full context)
Ambition, Social Mobility, and Morality Theme Icon
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
Partly in an attempt to protect Clara, David avoids his mother, spending many evenings with Peggotty. This also attracts Mr. Murdstone's disapproval,... (full context)
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...to say goodbye to his mother and new brother. As Barkis and David drive away, Clara calls out to her son one more time and holds the baby up so that... (full context)
Chapter 9: I Have a Memorable Birthday
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...for him. Mrs. Creakle attempts to break the news gently to David, saying first that Clara is "very ill," then that she is "dangerously ill," and finally that she has died.... (full context)
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
Peggotty comes to David's room, and explains that Clara had been sick and unhappy for a long time, and only grew weaker after the... (full context)
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
David explains that after Clara's death, he forgot what she had looked like most recently and only ever remembered her... (full context)
Chapter 10: I Become Neglected, and Am Provided For
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
...with David once they are inside, though she tears up when Mr. Peggotty alludes to Clara's death. (full context)
Chapter 12: Liking Life on My Own Account No Better, I Form a Great Resolution
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...Betsey's presence at his birth: he suspects that his aunt had a soft spot for Clara, and might help David on her account. He therefore writes to Peggotty and learns that... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Sequel of My Resolution
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...is only able to keep going by once again calling to mind Miss Betsey comforting Clara. All told, he covers 23 miles that day, eventually lying down to sleep near a... (full context)
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...out of his way to avoid fellow travelers, and focuses on a mental image of Clara in order to push on; as a result, he later comes to associate the image... (full context)
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...more about himself and his history, before getting into a dispute with Mr. Dick over Clara, whom she feels should not have remarried, even for love: "A mighty pleasure for the... (full context)
Home and Family Theme Icon
...some time looking out over the sea, imagining he can see either his fate or Clara there. He is grateful to be indoors and in a bed, however, and soon falls... (full context)
Chapter 14: My Aunt Makes Up Her Mind About Me
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
...until Mr. Murdstone intervenes. Having confirmed his identity, Miss Betsey criticizes his decision to marry Clara, whom she describes as a "poor child." Miss Murdstone is visibly annoyed, but agrees with... (full context)
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
...treated his own child similarly, and then whether he would treat David this way if Clara were alive. This prompts a discussion of Clara: although Miss Betsey irritably agrees with Mr.... (full context)
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...David begs her not send him back to people who had treated both him and Clara so badly. Finally, Miss Betsey asks Mr. Dick what she ought to do with David,... (full context)
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
...cuts them off, explaining that she can easily imagine how Mr. Murdstone must have seduced Clara only to "begin to break her, like a poor caged bird" after they married. This,... (full context)
Chapter 19: I Look About Me, and Make a Discovery
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
...his aunt indicates that she is very proud of him—though she attributes this feeling to Clara Copperfield rather than owning up to it directly. She also cautions David, however, that she... (full context)
Chapter 21: Little Em'ly
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
...at first. David, however, reminds him of the time they rode to Blunderstone together for Clara Copperfield's funeral, and Mr. Omer then greets him, reminiscing about the day. He has more... (full context)
Chapter 23: I Corroborate Mr. Dick, and Choose a Profession
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...also (she implies) because she wishes she had been kinder to his father and to Clara. David is touched by his aunt's words, and they agree to go to Doctors' Commons... (full context)
Chapter 26: I Fall into Captivity
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
...agrees, but also says that he thinks she and Mr. Murdstone treated both him and Clara horribly. (full context)
Chapter 31: A Greater Loss
Ambition, Social Mobility, and Morality Theme Icon
David agrees to stay until Mr. Barkis is buried (in the same cemetery as Clara Copperfield). He also helps Peggotty and exercises his professional skills by reading and interpreting Barkis's... (full context)
Chapter 35: Depression
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...Dora truly love one another despite their "inexperience." Miss Betsey says he reminds her of Clara Copperfield, and needs an "earnest" partner to steady him. David protests again, and Miss Betsey... (full context)
Chapter 43: Another Retrospect
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...she loves him like her own son, and that she can't help but think of Clara Copperfield on this occasion. David says that he is also thinking about his mother, along... (full context)
Chapter 44: Our Housekeeping
Memory and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...Miss Betsey hints that she wishes she been more tolerant of her brother's marriage to Clara Copperfield, and urges David to remember how unhappy Clara was after her second marriage. Finally,... (full context)