David Copperfield

David Copperfield

Ham Peggotty Character Analysis

Ham Peggotty is Mr. Peggotty's nephew and little Em’ly's cousin. He shares both his uncle's generous nature and his reliance on the sea for a living: he is a boat-builder by trade. Despite being several years older than Emily, Ham is deeply in love with his cousin, and the two are at one point engaged to be married. Little Em'ly, however, clearly has misgivings about the relationship, since she aspires to something beyond a working-class life. Ham therefore blames himself when Emily elopes with James Steerforth, saying he should have noticed Emily's discomfort with the prospect of marrying him. Still, Emily's desertion wounds Ham, who afterwards dedicates himself exclusively to his work. He retains his kindness and nobility to the last, however, ultimately drowning in an attempt to rescue the passengers of a sinking boat—one of whom is Steerforth himself.

Ham Peggotty Quotes in David Copperfield

The David Copperfield quotes below are all either spoken by Ham Peggotty or refer to Ham Peggotty. 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 22 Quotes

"I have been sitting here," said Steerforth, glancing round the room, "thinking that all the people we found so glad on the night of our coming down, might—to judge from the present wasted air of the place—to be dispersed, or dead, or come to I don't know what harm. David, I wish to God I had had a judicious father these last twenty years."

"My dear Steerforth, what is the matter?"

"I wish with all my soul I had been better guided!" he exclaimed. "I wish with all my soul I could guide myself better!"

Related Symbols: The Sea
Page Number: 275
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 50 Quotes

"The miserable vanity of these earth-worms!" she said, when she had so far controlled the angry heavings of her breast, that she could trust herself to speak. "Your home! Do you imagine that I bestow a thought on it, or suppose you could do any harm to that low place, which money would not pay for, and handsomely? Your home! You were a part of the trade of your home, and were bought and sold like any other vendible thing your people dealt in."

Page Number: 599
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 55 Quotes

And on that part of [the shore] where she and I had looked for shells, two children—on that part of it where some lighter fragments of the old boat, blown down last night, had been scattered by the wind—among the ruins of the home he had wronged—I saw him lying with his head upon his arm, as I had often seen him lie at school.

Related Symbols: The Sea
Page Number: 661
Explanation and Analysis:
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Ham Peggotty Character Timeline in David Copperfield

The timeline below shows where the character Ham Peggotty appears in David Copperfield. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: I Am Born 
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Peggotty sends her nephew, Ham, to fetch a doctor, who arrives to find Clara settled upstairs and Miss Betsey waiting... (full context)
Chapter 2: I Observe
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...her descriptions of the sea and her promise that he can play with her nephew, Ham, but worries about his mother. He asks whether Clara will let him go, and then... (full context)
Chapter 3: I Have a Change
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...in a cart driven by a silent man David will later learn is named Barkis. Ham is waiting for them when they arrive and greets David as an old friend before... (full context)
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...and the fire burning inside. Eventually, he asks Mr. Peggotty why he named his "son" Ham, which prompts Mr. Peggotty to explain how he is related to the house's other residents.... (full context)
Chapter 7: My 'First Half' at Salem House
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...term, Tungay announces that David has visitors. These turn out to be Mr. Peggotty and Ham, and the three share a joyful reunion, with David crying at the sight of his... (full context)
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...into the room, and David takes the opportunity to introduce him to Mr. Peggotty and Ham. Steerforth is effortlessly charming with them, and David pauses in his narrative to comment on... (full context)
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After Ham and Mr. Peggotty leave, David considers telling Steerforth about little Em'ly, but is afraid Steerforth... (full context)
Chapter 10: I Become Neglected, and Am Provided For
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...asks repeatedly whether she is comfortable, nudging her each time he speaks. Mr. Peggotty and Ham are waiting for them when they arrive in Yarmouth, and while they and Peggotty carry... (full context)
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...after depositing him and little Em'ly at Mr. Peggotty's, but he perks up thanks to Ham and Emily's company. Peggotty visits the next morning and brings David to her new home,... (full context)
Chapter 21: Little Em'ly
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...of noise coming from inside the house. When they enter, they find Mrs. Gummidge clapping, Ham and little Em'ly shyly holding hands, and Mr. Peggotty warmly greeting his niece. The scene... (full context)
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...he loves Emily as if she were his daughter. He then explains that a "certain person"—Ham—has known little Em'ly since she was a baby and has watched her grow up, ultimately... (full context)
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Awkwardly but earnestly, Ham professes his love for little Em’ly, saying that no other man could love her more,... (full context)
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Mr. Peggotty and Ham manage to persuade little Em'ly to return to the main room, and her awkwardness quickly... (full context)
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...beauty and the "quaintness" of the house and family. However, when David comments happily on Ham and Emily's engagement, Steerforth says it is a shame that she is marrying such a... (full context)
Chapter 22: Some Old Scenes, and Some New People
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...himself better." Continuing on, he says he would rather be poor like Mr. Peggotty or Ham than be himself. Confused, David presses Steerforth to tell him what's wrong, but Steerforth laughs... (full context)
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At that moment, little Em'ly herself approaches with Ham, who is very attentive to and protective of his fiancée. They stop and chat with... (full context)
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...adding that Emily is currently apprenticed at Mr. Omer's, and that she is engaged to Ham Peggotty—though he (Steerforth) thinks she was "born to be a lady." Miss Mowcher says that... (full context)
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Later that night, David returns to Mr. Barkis's house only to find Ham waiting outside. Ham explains that Emily is inside, talking to an old friend who is... (full context)
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Eventually, Peggotty opens the door and motions for Ham and David to enter the house. Once inside, David sees Martha kneeling on the floor... (full context)
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As soon as Martha leaves, little Em'ly begins crying and tells Ham that she is not as "good" as she should be. More specifically, she thinks she... (full context)
Chapter 30: A Loss
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...in fact, he offered to release her early from her apprenticeship so she could marry. Ham accordingly bought a house and the couple were on the verge of marriage when Barkis's... (full context)
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...Peggotty is currently at Barkis's house. David hurries there as well, where he also finds Ham and Emily. Everyone is very subdued, but Mr. Peggotty and Ham thank David for coming.... (full context)
Chapter 31: A Greater Loss
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...Mr. Peggotty agrees that he is, talking about how much pleasure he takes in visiting Ham and Emily's future home; all the objects in it remind him of his niece. (full context)
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Mr. Peggotty sees someone coming: it's Ham, but he is not accompanied by little Em'ly. Ham asks David to step outside so... (full context)
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Back inside, David reads aloud a letter Ham gave him. It's from Emily, and explains that she is already "far away" from her... (full context)
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Mr. Peggotty seems dazed, although he does try to comfort Ham. Eventually, he asks who the man is that Emily has run away with, and Ham... (full context)
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...but to sit down for a while so that they can reminisce about Emily and Ham as children. This, she says, will help him "bear his sorrow better." Mr. Peggotty does... (full context)
Chapter 32: The Beginning of a Long Journey
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...are critical of the couple—and particularly of little Em'ly—everyone is sympathetic to Mr. Peggotty and Ham. (full context)
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David meets Mr. Peggotty and Ham on the beach. Both look very determined, and David worries that if Ham ever came... (full context)
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Mr. Peggotty, Ham, and David return to the house, where Mrs. Gummidge has made breakfast and urges Mr.... (full context)
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The next morning, David, Peggotty, Mr. Peggotty, Ham, and Mrs. Gummidge all meet at the coach office. Ham pulls David aside and asks... (full context)
Chapter 40: The Wanderer
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...If Mrs. Gummidge is too angry to do so, Emily begs her to talk to Ham and see whether he is willing to forgive her and, if so, to honor his... (full context)
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David asks Mr. Peggotty about Ham, and Mr. Peggotty says that he is as hard-working as ever and is always willing... (full context)
Chapter 46: Intelligence
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As they walk, David asks Mr. Peggotty about Ham, who is much the same: kind and uncomplaining, but uninterested in life. When David asks... (full context)
Chapter 51: The Beginning of a Longer Journey
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...going, both because she wants to remain close to David, and out of concern for Ham, whom she keeps house for. Meanwhile, Mr. Peggotty says he intends to provide an allowance... (full context)
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...and Mrs. Steerforth before leaving the country. He also admits that he is anxious about Ham: he plans to go to Yarmouth to visit him, and asks David to come with... (full context)
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David and Mr. Peggotty pass Mr. Omer's shop on the way to visit Ham, and David stays behind to talk to Omer while Mr. Peggotty goes on ahead. Mr.... (full context)
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...it is important to be kind to one another. This reminds him to ask about Ham, who often comes to keep Mr. Omer company in the evening. David says he is... (full context)
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David goes to Ham's house, where Peggotty now lives as well. Mr. Peggotty has brought Mrs. Gummidge over as... (full context)
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...because he wants to see it one last time. In the meantime, he seeks out Ham on his way back from work. Ham asks David whether he has seen little Em'ly,... (full context)
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Ham thanks David, and says that he does want to say something to Emily—specifically, that he... (full context)
Chapter 55: Tempest
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...a lot of time with the Peggottys, and one evening, Peggotty begins to talk about Ham's kindness and strength. As David walks home that night, he begins to reconsider leaving Ham's... (full context)
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...little Em'ly has written and asks him to look it over and give it to Ham, if he feels it is appropriate. In the letter, Emily thanks Ham for his message,... (full context)
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Ham is not in the crowd on the beach, so David goes to his house, which... (full context)
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David cannot shake the fear that Ham will drown trying to attempt to return from Lowestoft by sea, so he goes back... (full context)
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At that moment, the crowd parts, and David sees Ham walking out toward the sea, apparently intending to do what the other spectators have just... (full context)
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Ham runs out into the water and is immediately hit by a wave. The men holding... (full context)
Chapter 56: The New Wound, and the Old
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Some local men who had known Steerforth carry his body up toward the house where Ham is, but hesitate to place him inside. Instead, they go to the inn, and David... (full context)
Chapter 57: The Emigrants
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...give into his grief immediately, in part because he wants to conceal the deaths of Ham and Steerforth from little Em'ly and Mr. Peggotty. He does, however, tell Mr. Micawber what... (full context)
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...himself. David, who had been slightly worried that Mr. Peggotty might have heard something about Ham, is reassured by the fact that he has been spending almost all his time with... (full context)
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David relays Ham's parting message to Mr. Peggotty, and Mr. Peggotty—still ignorant of Ham's death—gives David a message... (full context)
Chapter 58: Absence
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...he comes to appreciate the depth of his despair. His grief encompasses Dora, Steerforth, and Ham, but also the loss of the Peggotty's home, and the ruin of "the whole airy... (full context)
Chapter 63: A Visitor
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...explains that she was initially very depressed, so it is fortunate she didn't know about Ham's death when they set sail. Over the course of the voyage, however, she busied herself... (full context)
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...Mr. Micawber and the other settlers. Shortly before Mr. Peggotty leaves, he and David visit Ham's grave in Yarmouth: David copies the inscription for Mr. Peggotty, who takes some grass from... (full context)