David Copperfield

David Copperfield

Miss Betsey Trotwood Character Analysis

Betsey Trotwood is David's great-aunt on his father's side. Although she disapproved of David Copperfield's marriage to Clara, she is present for David's birth because she hopes the child will be a girl. As a young woman, Miss Betsey married a man who abused her, and the relationship permanently soured her on the male sex. Nevertheless, she is moved by David's plight when he comes to her after running away from the counting-house, and she refuses to send him back to Mr. Murdstone. From that point onward, she becomes a parental figure for David, putting him through school and offering advice and support even after he has grown to adulthood. Outwardly, Miss Betsey is a no-nonsense and even gruff woman who intimidates Clara Copperfield, Peggotty, and (initially) even David himself. Her tough exterior, however, conceals deep compassion and respect for her family and friends. This is particularly evident in her relationship with Mr. Dick, a mentally disabled man whom Miss Betsey not only rescues from an asylum but then lives with and treats as an equal. In fact, Miss Betsey displays tenderness and concern even towards people she professes to disapprove of. Although quite critical of Clara's (and later Dora Spenlow's) childishness and naiveté, Miss Betsey nevertheless speaks out for both women's rights to be treated kindly and respectfully by their husbands. The novel implies that some of Miss Betsey's outer hardness is a matter of necessity; since she separated from her husband, she has been living as an entirely independent woman, which was not an easy feat in Victorian England.

Miss Betsey Trotwood Quotes in David Copperfield

The David Copperfield quotes below are all either spoken by Miss Betsey Trotwood or refer to Miss Betsey Trotwood. 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:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Puffin edition of David Copperfield published in 2013.
Chapter 35 Quotes

Wherever Agnes was, some agreeable token of her noiseless presence seemed inseparable from the place. When I came back, I found my aunt's birds hanging, just as they had hung so long in the parlor window of the cottage; and my easy chair imitating my aunt's much easier chair in its position at the open window; and even the round green fan, which my aunt had brought away with her, screwed on to the window-sill. I knew who had done all this, by its seeming to have quietly done itself; and I should have known in a moment who had arranged my neglected books in the open order of my school days, even if I had supposed Agnes to be miles away.

Related Characters: David Copperfield (speaker), Agnes Wickfield, Miss Betsey Trotwood
Page Number: 430
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Chapter 54 Quotes

"When I lost the rest, I thought it wise to say nothing about that sum, but to keep it secretly for a rainy day. I wanted to see how you would come out of the trial, Trot; and you came out nobly—persevering, self-reliant, self-denying! So did Dick."

Page Number: 647
Explanation and Analysis:
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Miss Betsey Trotwood Character Timeline in David Copperfield

The timeline below shows where the character Miss Betsey Trotwood 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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...grave. David's only surviving family members, then, were his mother, Clara, and his father's aunt, Betsey Trotwood . (full context)
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David briefly describes his great-aunt. Miss Betsey , he says, had at one point been married to an abusive husband, but had... (full context)
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...against the window. Clara goes to the door, and the stranger brusquely introduces herself as Miss Betsey Trotwood: Clara recognizes the name as belonging to her husband's aunt. Once the two women... (full context)
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As Clara recovers, Miss Betsey explains that she has come because she wants to help raise Clara's child, which she... (full context)
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...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 by Miss Betsey's formidable appearance,... (full context)
Chapter 8: My Holidays, Especially One Happy Afternoon
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...in the apparent return to older, happier times. Suddenly, Peggotty asks what has happened to Miss Betsey , and then wonders whether she might leave anything to David in her will. Clara... (full context)
Chapter 12: Liking Life on My Own Account No Better, I Form a Great Resolution
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...goes to work. He plans to run away soon, however, in the hopes of finding Miss Betsey . He has been thinking about this for some time, and mulling over the story... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Sequel of My Resolution
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...him, and he 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... (full context)
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David asks several people for information about where Miss Betsey lives with little success: some joke about her, while others refuse to speak to David... (full context)
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...David, and "shutting up one eye in a grotesque manner." Just as David considers leaving, Miss Betsey emerges from the house and, catching sight of him, tells him to leave because she... (full context)
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David recounts the circumstances that have brought him to Miss Betsey , and then bursts into tears. Miss Betsey then pulls David inside the cottage, gives... (full context)
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While Miss Betsey and Mr. Dick are talking, David observes his surroundings. His aunt is "austere" but good-looking... (full context)
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Janet leaves to prepare a bath, but is immediately called back by Miss Betsey crying "Donkeys!" Janet and Miss Betsey then hurry outside to shoo away a group of... (full context)
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After David's bath, Miss Betsey wraps David up in Mr. Dick's old clothes and sets him down on the couch... (full context)
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When David wakes up, he has dinner with Miss Betsey , who then calls Mr. Dick down to join them. She asks David more about... (full context)
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Later that day, David, Miss Betsey , and Mr. Dick have tea, and Miss Betsey again asks what she should do... (full context)
Chapter 14: My Aunt Makes Up Her Mind About Me
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Miss Betsey still seems to be mulling over David's fate the next morning at breakfast, and David... (full context)
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David goes upstairs to Mr. Dick, whom he finds at work on what Miss Betsey has called "his Memorial." When he sees David, Mr. Dick remarks that "it's a mad... (full context)
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Returning downstairs, David relays Mr. Dick's compliments to Miss Betsey , who asks David what he thinks of him and—when David hesitates—says that David's "sister... (full context)
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Miss Betsey then begins to discuss Mr. Dick's Memorial, which she says Charles I must be kept... (full context)
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...waits nervously for a response from Mr. Murdstone and tries to make himself "agreeable." Finally, Miss Betsey tells David that she has received a letter from Mr. Murdstone, and that he will... (full context)
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...the next afternoon, Miss Murdstone arrives in front of the cottage on a donkey, and Miss Betsey tries to shoo her away even after David tells her who she is. Mr. Murdstone... (full context)
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When the Murdstones enter the room, David attempts to leave, but Miss Betsey insists that he stay. She and Miss Murdstone trade jabs over her policy on trespassing... (full context)
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Miss Betsey sends for Mr. Dick, whom she introduces to the Murdstones. Mr. Murdstone then begins to... (full context)
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Mr. Murdstone says that he intends to take David back, and warns Miss Betsey that if she helps David now, he will not offer David any assistance going forward.... (full context)
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The Murdstones, insulted, begin to object to what Miss Betsey has said, but she cuts them off, explaining that she can easily imagine how Mr.... (full context)
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The Murdstones leave, and David embraces Miss Betsey , thanking her profusely. Miss Betsey announces to Mr. Dick that they will both act... (full context)
Chapter 15: I Make Another Beginning
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Meanwhile, David is also becoming closer to Miss Betsey , who now calls him "Trot." One evening, she asks whether David would like to... (full context)
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Miss Betsey and David leave the next day, and David learns on the way that they will... (full context)
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...sweet expression." Just then, a man resembling the first portrait enters the room and beckons Miss Betsey and David into his office, saying that they will need to forgive him for being... (full context)
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Miss Betsey introduces Mr. Wickfield to David and asks for advice on which school to send him... (full context)
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Mr. Wickfield and Miss Betsey return without having found a suitable place for David to stay. Mr. Wickfield therefore offers... (full context)
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As Miss Betsey prepares to leave, Mr. Wickfield and Agnes exit the room to give her and David... (full context)
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...so he could see all the houses and buildings he passed when first traveling to Miss Betsey 's. When he returned to the house, he ran into Uriah Heep and shook his... (full context)
Chapter 16: I Am a New Boy in More Senses Than One
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...is apprenticed to Mr. Wickfield, expressing profuse gratitude for this. He also lavishes praise on Miss Betsey and Agnes, which David finds unnerving: Uriah "writhes" every time he pays someone a compliment—particularly... (full context)
Chapter 17: Somebody Turns Up
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Sometime after arriving at Miss Betsey 's, David had written to Peggotty explaining his new circumstances. Peggotty's response makes it clear... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Mr. Dick pays frequent visits to David at school, always speaking glowingly of Miss Betsey when he comes. On one occasion, he wonders aloud to David who "the man" is... (full context)
Chapter 19: I Look About Me, and Make a Discovery
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...his life, despite many talks on the subject with his aunt and Mr. Dick. Eventually, Miss Betsey suggests that he take some time to mull over the matter by going to see... (full context)
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Miss Betsey sends David off with enough money to do what he likes for three or four... (full context)
Chapter 23: I Corroborate Mr. Dick, and Choose a Profession
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...wanted to consult Steerforth about this anyway, so he explains that the letter is from Miss Betsey , and that it asks him whether he has reached a decision about his future... (full context)
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...they part ways, arranging to meet again soon. David then goes to a hotel where Miss Betsey had told him she would be staying, and they greet one another happily. Mr. Dick... (full context)
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After Miss Betsey has eaten and prepared for bed, she brings up the topic of jobs again, and... (full context)
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The following day, Miss Betsey and David head off to visit a firm called Spenlow and Jorkins. Miss Betsey is... (full context)
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After half an hour, Miss Betsey catches up with David. She is still disturbed, however, and asks the coachman who brought... (full context)
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Eventually, David and Miss Betsey reach Spenlow and Jorkins, where they find several clerks at work. One of them says... (full context)
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...He explains that there is an opening at the firm, and that he had told Miss Betsey this when she visited him on business a few days earlier. David says that he... (full context)
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David, Mr. Spenlow, and Miss Betsey agree that David will begin work right away, and Spenlow takes him to the Court... (full context)
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David and Miss Betsey return to her hotel for the night, Miss Betsey telling her nephew that she hopes... (full context)
Chapter 26: I Fall into Captivity
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...Miss Murdstone, who pulls David aside. Although she can't help but complain a bit about Miss Betsey 's treatment of her (and about David's childhood character), Miss Murdstone proposes that they now... (full context)
Chapter 34: My Aunt Astonishes Me
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...they arrive, however, they find the door open and hear voices inside. Entering, they find Miss Betsey and Mr. Dick surrounded by luggage. David greets them, reintroducing his aunt to Peggotty, whom... (full context)
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Miss Betsey asks David to pour the tea, but David senses that she is stalling, and begins... (full context)
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David is stunned, but he manages to "rouse" himself when Miss Betsey embraces him and begins crying that she is sorry on his account. She recovers quickly,... (full context)
Chapter 35: Depression
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...Peggotty had rented, and takes him to see it. While there, David learns that although Miss Betsey had already told Mr. Dick her news before they left, he had not seemed upset... (full context)
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Returning to David's apartment, David and Mr. Dick find Miss Betsey looking calm. David gives her his bed to sleep in, but she refuses to allow... (full context)
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Miss Betsey explains that while David was away with Mr. Dick, she and Peggotty talked about little... (full context)
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David goes to bed and broods about how Miss Betsey 's loss is likely to affect his engagement to Dora. When he finally falls asleep,... (full context)
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The next morning, David rises before Miss Betsey and goes to Doctors' Commons to see if he can cancel his apprenticeship and recover... (full context)
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...ought to say that about Dora. She then explains that she has come to visit Miss Betsey , who sent a note to Agnes explaining her misfortune. David and Agnes then decide... (full context)
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Agnes asks whether David knows how Miss Betsey lost her fortune, and seems anxious when he says that he does not. At that... (full context)
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David tells Agnes and Miss Betsey about his attempts to cancel his apprenticeship, and his aunt says that his actions were... (full context)
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Miss Betsey summarizes her financial situation for David and Agnes: she expects to earn about 70 pounds... (full context)
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...discovers that Agnes has quietly rearranged the apartment to give it a more homey atmosphere. Miss Betsey seems to be in a slightly better mood about the prospect of staying in London,... (full context)
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...and not only physically: he seems ashamed of himself and his situation, and only greets Miss Betsey after Agnes urges him to do so. Wickfield is also deferential to Uriah, much to... (full context)
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Miss Betsey explains that she has been telling Agnes about her finances, and that Agnes is "worth... (full context)
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...a beggar muttering "blind" over and over. This startles David, because it is also what Miss Betsey said when he was describing his love for Dora to her. (full context)
Chapter 36: Enthusiasm
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...changed: he is now excited about the prospect of working hard to prove himself to Miss Betsey and to win Dora. In fact, he is sorry his situation is not more desperate... (full context)
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...a proctor, but that the 70-pound salary the Doctor is offering would double his and Miss Betsey 's income. The Doctor is disturbed by this and attempts to offer David more money.... (full context)
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...visits Traddles, because Mr. Dick has been fretting about doing nothing to help David and Miss Betsey . David hopes it might be possible to find an easy job for Mr. Dick... (full context)
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...on. What's more, Mr. Dick is delighted to be able to present his earnings to Miss Betsey , whom he says he can now "provide for." (full context)
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As the evening goes on, David explains his and Miss Betsey 's problems to Mr. and Mrs. Micawber, who seem happy about the news. When they... (full context)
Chapter 37: A Little Cold Water
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...the coming Saturday. Meanwhile, Mr. Dick has settled in well to his new job, and Miss Betsey has frightened Mrs. Crupp into staying in the kitchen. Miss Betsey has also taken it... (full context)
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...tries to describe their future home together. Dora, however, is alarmed by the idea of Miss Betsey living with them, and David begins to feel that she is being "impracticable." He therefore... (full context)
Chapter 38: A Dissolution of Partnership
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...so David begins to practice transcribing speeches that Traddles gives for his benefit. Together with Miss Betsey and Mr. Dick, they hold mock parliamentary sessions in David's apartment. David slowly begins to... (full context)
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...of this, but explains that he and Dora were already engaged when he learned of Miss Betsey 's losses, and that since then he has been working hard to improve his situation.... (full context)
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...He then gives David a week to mull this over, advising him to "confer with Miss Trotwood , or with any person with any knowledge of life." David leaves, uncomfortably aware of... (full context)
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...to convince her of David's continued devotion. When David gets home, he explains everything to Miss Betsey , but remains depressed. (full context)
Chapter 39: Wickfield and Heep
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To distract him from his misery, Miss Betsey arranges for David to see how things are going with her cottage in Dover. David... (full context)
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...Dover, he is pleased for his aunt's sake to find that the tenant now occupying Miss Betsey 's cottage is diligent about keeping donkeys off the yard. David then goes on to... (full context)
Chapter 40: The Wanderer
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Back in London, David tells Miss Betsey what is going on at the Wickfields' while she paces back and forth in distress.... (full context)
Chapter 41: Dora's Aunts
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...he can come to dinner on Sundays, and tea twice a week. They also invite Miss Betsey . (full context)
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...best creatures." She becomes even more distressed when David announces that she will soon meet Miss Betsey , so David gives up trying to persuade her that she's wrong. Instead, he watches... (full context)
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Back at home, David tells Miss Betsey about his success, and she says she's happy for him. He notices, however, that she... (full context)
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...(with Miss Lavinia's permission) he begins to visit on Saturdays as well as Sundays. Meanwhile, Miss Betsey and Dora's aunts pay visits to one another and generally get along well, although the... (full context)
Chapter 42: Mischief
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...begins to help Mrs. Strong out in the garden, which she seems to find comforting. Miss Betsey does not find any of this surprising, and frequently tells David that "nobody but [her]self... (full context)
Chapter 43: Another Retrospect
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David and Miss Betsey have moved out of his apartment and into a cottage, but Miss Betsey herself will... (full context)
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...next morning, David wakes up (still in a state of disbelief) and goes to collect Miss Betsey . Peggotty and Mr. Dick are also attending the wedding; in fact, Mr. Dick is... (full context)
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...Miss Lavinia begins crying and has to be revived by Miss Clarissa. David also sees Miss Betsey crying, despite her attempts to look "stern." Dora, meanwhile, is trembling throughout the ceremony and... (full context)
Chapter 44: Our Housekeeping
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Later that night, when David returns home from work, he finds Miss Betsey waiting for him. She explains that she has been keeping Dora company, because she is... (full context)
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Miss Betsey leaves with a final warning not to use her as a "scarecrow" to frighten Dora.... (full context)
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...be, however, because Dora enjoys "this make-belief of housekeeping." Dora also becomes very attached to Miss Betsey , who in turn develops such a soft spot for Dora that she constantly tries... (full context)
Chapter 45: Mr. Dick Fulfills My Aunt's Prediction
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Meanwhile, Miss Betsey finds the state of Doctor and Mrs. Strong's marriage troubling and confusing. She suspects Mrs.... (full context)
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One night when Dora is out with Miss Betsey , Mr. Dick stops by David's house and asks to speak to him. Mr. Dick... (full context)
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...angry with Annie, Mr. Dick excitedly says that he knows the solution. He asks why Miss Betsey and David have not intervened, and David says that the subject is awkward. Triumphantly, Mr.... (full context)
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...few weeks and begins to think Mr. Dick has forgotten. One day, however, David and Miss Betsey are going for an evening stroll and pass by Doctor Strong's house, where they find... (full context)
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Mrs. Markleham soon enters the drawing room where David and Miss Betsey are seated, and scolds Annie for not informing her that Doctor Strong was meeting with... (full context)
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Miss Betsey goes to Mr. Dick and hugs him, saying he is a "remarkable man." Miss Betsey,... (full context)
Chapter 47: Martha
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David says goodbye to Mr. Peggotty and heads home. When he passes Miss Betsey 's cottage, however, he notices that the door is open and goes to investigate, only... (full context)
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Miss Betsey and the man continue to argue, Miss Betsey insisting that she can't spare any more... (full context)
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David does as Miss Betsey asks, and she then tells him that the man is her husband, who is only... (full context)
Chapter 48: Domestic
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One day, Dora tells Miss Betsey that when she is well, she will make Jip run around again, because he is... (full context)
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...pass. Consequently, David begins to carry her downstairs each day, which amuses Dora—particularly because Jip, Miss Betsey , and Mr. Dick often form part of the "procession." However, David can't help but... (full context)
Chapter 49: I Am Involved in Mystery
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...Traddles send a letter the same day, and then explain what is going on to Miss Betsey , who is similarly mystified as to what is happening. (full context)
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After Mr. Micawber composes himself, David offers to take him back to Miss Betsey 's to meet his aunt and to make punch. Mr. Micawber accepts and, together with... (full context)
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...David senses that there is something he wants to disclose. Appearing to sense the same, Miss Betsey engages Mr. Micawber in conversation, saying that she knows he is an old friend of... (full context)
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Mr. Micawber then races out of the cottage, but sends a letter while David, Miss Betsey , Mr. Dick, and Traddles are still trying to make sense of his visit. In... (full context)
Chapter 51: The Beginning of a Longer Journey
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The next morning, David is walking in his garden with Miss Betsey when he hears that Mr. Peggotty has come to talk to him. Miss Betsey offers... (full context)
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Mr. Peggotty says that he and Emily stayed up all night together, crying and talking. Miss Betsey , moved by the story, says she wishes she could be godmother to the child... (full context)
Chapter 52: I Assist at an Explosion
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The meeting with Mr. Micawber approaches, and David and Miss Betsey discuss what they ought to do: Dora is very weak, and Miss Betsey feels she... (full context)
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The next day, David, Miss Betsey , Mr. Dick, and Traddles set off together for Canterbury, and arrive that evening at... (full context)
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David returns to the inn and waits anxiously with Miss Betsey , Traddles, and Mr. Dick. When Mr. Micawber arrives, he refuses to eat anything and... (full context)
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...for Agnes, as Micawber had told him to do. Mr. Micawber then shows David, Traddles, Miss Betsey , and Mr. Dick inside, and announces their presence to Uriah. Uriah is momentarily surprised,... (full context)
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...When David urges Micawber to "deal with [Uriah] as he deserves," Uriah warns Agnes and Miss Betsey not to take part in this "gang." (full context)
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Suddenly, Miss Betsey grabs Uriah by the collar and says she wants her property back: she explains that... (full context)
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...remains behind to comfort Mr. Wickfield, and Traddles stays to guard Uriah, but Mr. Dick, Miss Betsey , and David go with Mr. Micawber, grateful for all he has done. When they... (full context)
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Miss Betsey is surprised at how large the Micawber family is, and asks what the eldest son... (full context)
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...it before). He explains, however, that he doesn't have enough money to make the voyage. Miss Betsey says that Mr. Micawber's helpfulness entitles him to a reward, and Micawber says that while... (full context)
Chapter 53: Another Retrospect
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...lying next to Dora. However, Dora is uncomplaining and grateful for the time David and Miss Betsey spend tending to and talking with her. Sometimes Miss Clarissa and Miss Lavinia visit, and... (full context)
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One night, David is sitting alone with Dora. Agnes and Miss Betsey are present, but downstairs. Although David is aware on some level that Dora is dying,... (full context)
Chapter 54: Mr. Micawber's Transactions
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...after Mr. Peggotty and Emily have left for Australia. He therefore returns to Canterbury with Miss Betsey and Agnes and goes directly to Mr. Micawber's, where Traddles is staying. (full context)
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Miss Betsey asks whether Mr. Micawber has thought more about Australia, and he says that his family... (full context)
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Mr. Micawber and Mrs. Micawber leave David, Agnes, and Miss Betsey alone with Traddles, who is sitting at a table covered in papers. Traddles expresses concern... (full context)
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Traddles moves on to Miss Betsey , who says she would be happy to have her money back but can "bear... (full context)
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Traddles explains that, with Miss Betsey 's admission, he can account for all the money that was lost. Miss Betsey confirms... (full context)
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Miss Betsey asks whether Traddles really managed to get all the money back from Uriah, and Traddles... (full context)
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Miss Betsey changes the subject to Mr. Micawber, and Traddles reiterates how important his help was in... (full context)
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...Micawber, Traddles says there is one more "painful" topic he needs to address. He reminds Miss Betsey that Uriah had threatened her husband during the meeting where his crimes were brought to... (full context)
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Miss Betsey explains the financial arrangements they intend to make to help the Micawbers. Mr. Micawber is... (full context)
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The next day, David, Miss Betsey , and Agnes plan to return to London. The Micawbers will follow them as soon... (full context)
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Once David and Miss Betsey are back in London, Miss Betsey explains that she did not want to worry David... (full context)
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David and Miss Betsey follow the hearse to a churchyard in the neighborhood where her husband was born. They... (full context)
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Inside the cottage, Miss Betsey and David find a letter from Mr. Micawber explaining that Uriah has called in another... (full context)
Chapter 55: Tempest
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Miss Betsey wakes David up the next morning, saying that Mr. Peggotty has come to see him.... (full context)
Chapter 57: The Emigrants
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...before setting sail. Traddles (who also knows about the accident) comes with him, and Agnes, Miss Betsey , and Peggotty are already there helping the Micawbers pack. Mr. Micawber is in a... (full context)
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Mrs. Micawber promises Miss Betsey and David she will write from aboard ship, if she is able to. Mr. Micawber... (full context)
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Miss Betsey drinks to Mr. Micawber's words, and Mr. Peggotty and the Micawbers then toast the whole... (full context)
Chapter 59: Return
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...although those that remain cheer him with their familiarity. His friends' situations have also changed: Miss Betsey is back in Dover, and Traddles is now practicing law. (full context)
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Sophy tells David that, while on their honeymoon, she and Traddles saw Agnes and Miss Betsey , and that both women were thinking of David. She also says that Traddles thought... (full context)
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David and Mr. Chillip continue to chat, and the conversation eventually moves to Miss Betsey , who was present the night Mr. Chillip delivered David. David says that he is... (full context)
Chapter 60: Agnes
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David and Miss Betsey spend the night catching up. Mr. Peggotty and his family are apparently doing well in... (full context)
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Eventually, Miss Betsey asks when David is going to visit Canterbury, and he replies that he'll go the... (full context)
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...if he will spend the night. David explains that he has promised to return to Miss Betsey 's, but that he will spend the remainder of the day with Agnes and Mr.... (full context)
Chapter 61: I Am Shown Two Interesting Penitents
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David decides to remain with Miss Betsey until he finishes his novel. In the meantime, he makes trips to London both for... (full context)
Chapter 62: A Light Shines on My Way
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Over the next two months, David continues to live with Miss Betsey and pay visits to Agnes, whose encouragement he relies on heavily in his work. At... (full context)
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One day, Miss Betsey asks David if he is going to Canterbury to read his manuscript aloud to Agnes.... (full context)
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The next day, David brings Agnes with him to see Miss Betsey , but does not immediately reveal that they are engaged. After dinner, however, David says... (full context)
Chapter 63: A Visitor
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Mr. Peggotty stays with David and Agnes for roughly a month: both Peggotty and Miss Betsey come to London to see him, and they all have many more chats about Mr.... (full context)
Chapter 64: A Last Retrospect
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...along the road of life," surrounded by many other people. He then describes these "faces." Miss Betsey , for instance, is now in her eighties but is still "a steady walker of... (full context)