David Copperfield

David Copperfield

Miss Murdstone Character Analysis

Jane Murdstone is Mr. Murdstone's sister; she comes to live at the Rookery following her brother's marriage to Clara Copperfield, ostensibly to relieve Clara of some of the housework. Miss Murdstone resembles her brother closely in both looks and personality and takes just as much (if not more) pleasure as he does in controlling Clara and terrorizing David. It is not clear whether this obsessive devotion to Mr. Murdstone's plans reflects genuine love for her brother or simply a desire to exercise her own authority. Regardless, in Miss Murdstone's unofficial position as housekeeper, she quickly overhauls the household according to strict ideas about efficiency and organization (this is also a power play, since it makes Clara and David feel like guests in their own home). Later in the novel, Miss Murdstone resurfaces as an impediment to David and Dora Spenlow's love affair, which she attempts to thwart by informing Dora's father, Mr. Spenlow, of the couple's intention to marry. Miss Murdstone's involvement in this episode underscores the similarities between Dora and Clara.
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Miss Murdstone Character Timeline in David Copperfield

The timeline below shows where the character Miss Murdstone appears in David Copperfield. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4: I Fall Into Disgrace
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After dinner, Mr. Murdstone's sister, Miss Murdstone , arrives. She is a stern-looking, unattractive, and "metallic" woman, who, upon meeting David, remarks... (full context)
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Miss Murdstone has been acting as housekeeper for some time when Clara finally objects. She says that... (full context)
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...time, David is being tutored by Clara. The lessons terrify David, because Mr. Murdstone and Miss Murdstone are also present and use the sessions as a way of keeping Clara in line.... (full context)
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One morning, David comes downstairs to find Clara, Miss Murdstone , and Mr. Murdstone already assembled. Mr. Murdstone, holding a cane, defends the wisdom of... (full context)
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...locked in his bedroom. He remains there, frightened and angry, for the next several days; Miss Murdstone brings him meals and allows him out for evening prayers, but he is otherwise left... (full context)
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Miss Murdstone fetches David from his room the next morning and brings him downstairs, where Clara urges... (full context)
Chapter 8: My Holidays, Especially One Happy Afternoon
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...been better to stay at Salem House. Pushing aside his fear of Mr. Murdstone and Miss Murdstone , David enters the house only to hear Clara singing. The sound makes David think... (full context)
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Mr. Murdstone and Miss Murdstone are out, so David, Clara, and Peggotty spend a happy afternoon together. Over dinner, he... (full context)
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...and suggests that she should marry Barkis after all. Peggotty retorts that that would make Miss Murdstone happy, and the two women get into an argument, with Clara defending Miss Murdstone's place... (full context)
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...be the "last of 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... (full context)
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...makes the mistake of comparing David to the baby and remarking that they look similar. Miss Murdstone retorts that the two children do not resemble each other at all and storms out... (full context)
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...attempts to question the Murdstones' characterization of David, but backs down when her husband and Miss Murdstone imply that she is challenging their judgment. After scolding Clara for being "weak and inconsiderate,"... (full context)
Chapter 9: I Have a Memorable Birthday
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When David enters the house, Miss Murdstone simply asks whether he has been measured for his mourning clothes. David suspects that she... (full context)
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...body lay, covered by a sheet. He remembers the funeral perfectly, however, and describes how Miss Murdstone discouraged Mr. Chillip—the doctor who attended his birth—from speaking kindly to David. He then recalls... (full context)
Chapter 10: I Become Neglected, and Am Provided For
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Shortly after the funeral, Miss Murdstone gives Peggotty a month's notice. David, however, is left in the dark about his own... (full context)
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...trip to see her brother, Mr. Peggotty. The idea delights David, and Peggotty quickly secures Miss Murdstone 's approval. (full context)
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Mr. Murdstone and Miss Murdstone largely ignore David following his return, but he feels the neglect keenly and wishes he... (full context)
Chapter 14: My Aunt Makes Up Her Mind About Me
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Late the next afternoon, Miss Murdstone arrives in front of the cottage on a donkey, and Miss Betsey tries to shoo... (full context)
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...the room, David attempts to leave, but Miss Betsey insists that he stay. She and Miss Murdstone trade jabs over her policy on trespassing donkeys until Mr. Murdstone intervenes. Having confirmed his... (full context)
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...David now, he will not offer David any assistance going forward. Miss Betsey then asks Miss Murdstone and David whether they have anything to say: Miss Murdstone agrees with her brother, while... (full context)
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...so intensely. She then repeats that the Murdstones should leave, and threatens to "knock [ Miss Murdstone 's] bonnet off" if she ever rides by on a donkey again. (full context)
Chapter 26: I Fall into Captivity
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...in love with her. He is so distracted, in fact, that he doesn't immediately notice Miss Murdstone 's presence until she says that she and David have already met. Mr. Spenlow explains... (full context)
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...the gayest little laugh, [and] the pleasantest and most fascinating little ways." When Dora and Miss Murdstone retire to the drawing-room after dinner, David worries that Miss Murdstone will prejudice Dora against... (full context)
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David, Mr. Spenlow, and the rest of the men rejoin Dora and Miss Murdstone , who pulls David aside. Although she can't help but complain a bit about Miss... (full context)
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Miss Murdstone walks away, and David spends the rest of the evening listening adoringly as Dora sings... (full context)
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While he is strolling, David runs into Dora herself, who complains that Miss Murdstone hadn't wanted to let her outside, even though it is the "brightest time of the... (full context)
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Dora asks whether David knows Miss Murdstone well and complains about her some more, saying that Jip could just as easily be... (full context)
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Miss Murdstone eventually comes and fetches Dora and David for breakfast and church. David continues to fantasize... (full context)
Chapter 33: Blissful
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...as he had planned. Dora is pleased with them, however, and cheerfully tells him that Miss Murdstone is away attending Mr. Murdstone's wedding. Meanwhile, Miss Mills watches Dora and David with "an... (full context)
Chapter 38: A Dissolution of Partnership
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...with him to a nearby coffeehouse, and David nervously complies. When they reach their destination, Miss Murdstone is waiting for them in a private room, and Mr. Spenlow asks her to show... (full context)
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...Trotwood, or with any person with any knowledge of life." David leaves, uncomfortably aware of Miss Murdstone watching him and strongly reminded of the lessons she used to preside over back at... (full context)
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David returns to work in despair and tormented by thoughts of Mr. Spenlow and Miss Murdstone terrorizing Dora. He therefore writes a letter to Mr. Spenlow begging him not to take... (full context)
Chapter 59: Return
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Mr. Chillip expresses his condolences over Dora's death, which he says he learned about from Miss Murdstone . It turns out that Mr. Chillip is once again living in the same neighborhood... (full context)