David Copperfield

David Copperfield

Mrs. Steerforth Character Analysis

Mrs. Steerforth is James Steerforth’s widowed mother. She is unhealthily attached to her son and consequently allows him to do whatever he wants, causing him to grow up to be a spoiled and reckless man. When Steerforth elopes with little Em'ly, however, it becomes clear that Mrs. Steerforth's love for her son is selfish at heart; she views the relationship as a betrayal and refuses to have anything to do with Steerforth unless he leaves Emily. Nevertheless, she is devastated by the news of Steerforth's death—particularly because Rosa Dartle savagely reminds Mrs. Steerforth that she herself had a hand in it.
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Mrs. Steerforth Character Timeline in David Copperfield

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Steerforth appears in David Copperfield. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 19: I Look About Me, and Make a Discovery
Coming of Age and Personal Development Theme Icon
...he is (half-heartedly) studying at Oxford, and is currently returning home to visit his mother, Mrs. Steerforth . It turns out that Steerforth also saw the play in Covent Garden, which David... (full context)
Chapter 20: Steerforth's Home
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...Steerforth invites him to spend some time at his home in Highgate, assuring David that Mrs. Steerforth is sure to like anyone who likes her son. They spend the rest of the... (full context)
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David and Steerforth have lunch and travel to Steerforth's home, where they are greeted by Mrs. Steerforth —a woman with a "proud carriage and a handsome face." The house itself, meanwhile, has... (full context)
Womanhood and Gender Roles Theme Icon
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David, Steerforth, and Mrs. Steerforth enter the dining room, where they meet another woman: Rosa Dartle, who is Mrs. Steerforth's... (full context)
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...scar tends to flush or turn pale when she is upset. He also notices that Mrs. Steerforth speaks of little except Steerforth himself; in fact, she even shows David letters, pictures, and... (full context)
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Mrs. Steerforth asks David about how he came to know Steerforth, and David speaks glowingly of Steerforth's... (full context)
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...admit that it is, as Rosa suggests, because he is "young and innocent." Rosa and Mrs. Steerforth then go to bed, and David and Steerforth continue to reminisce in Steerforth's room, which... (full context)
Chapter 24: My First Dissipation
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...particular, and Steerforth has not yet visited him. After three days, he goes to ask Mrs. Steerforth about her son's whereabouts and learns that he is seeing a friend from Oxford but... (full context)
Chapter 28: Mr. Micawber's Gauntlet
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...saying he needs to visit his mother. He then invites David to come stay at Mrs. Steerforth 's before going to Yarmouth, joking that he wants David to "stand between" him and... (full context)
Chapter 29: I Visit Steerforth at His Home, Again
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...profession as he heads to Steerforth's home. Littimer is not there (to David's relief), but Mrs. Steerforth and Rosa Dartle are, and are glad to see David. He is a little disconcerted,... (full context)
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David notices that Steerforth and Mrs. Steerforth seem especially close to one another during this visit. He is also struck by how... (full context)
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...She begins by hinting that there is something she wants to know more about, and Mrs. Steerforth tells her to be more direct. The two women then get into a discussion of... (full context)
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Mrs. Steerforth enters as Rosa leaves and asks what the matter is. Steerforth replies that she is... (full context)
Chapter 32: The Beginning of a Long Journey
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Mrs. Steerforth looks pale and unhappy but also very proud. She asks Mr. Peggotty why he has... (full context)
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Appealing to Mrs. Steerforth 's love for her son, Mr. Peggotty passionately defends the selflessness of his love for... (full context)
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Despite Rosa Dartle's repeated attempts to quiet her, Mrs. Steerforth launches into a long rant about how cruel it was of Steerforth to desert her... (full context)
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Mrs. Steerforth says she has nothing more to say, and Mr. Peggotty agrees to leave, explaining that... (full context)
Chapter 36: Enthusiasm
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David can't resist walking by Mrs. Steerforth 's house, where he sees Steerforth's own room has been shut up. Rosa Dartle, meanwhile,... (full context)
Chapter 46: Intelligence
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About one year into his marriage, David happens to walk by Mrs. Steerforth 's house. As usual, it looks dark and uninhabited, and David continues on. He finds... (full context)
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Suddenly, David hears a woman's voice, which turns out to be Mrs. Steerforth 's maid asking him to come in and talk to Rosa Dartle. David agrees, and... (full context)
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...says he came to England in the hopes of mending the rift between Steerforth and Mrs. Steerforth , but Rosa reminds him that she paid him to come. (full context)
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...currently sailing off the coast of Spain. She explains that the rift between him and Mrs. Steerforth has not been mended, and that any chance of reconciliation hinges on Steerforth not seeing... (full context)
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At that moment, Mrs. Steerforth approaches, and David sees that she looks much older. She asks whether David has heard... (full context)
Chapter 50: Mr. Peggotty's Dream Comes True
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...about Steerforth's home, and the rift little Em'ly ("this piece of pollution") has caused between Mrs. Steerforth and her son. Emily protests that she never meant to cause them any harm, saying... (full context)
Chapter 51: The Beginning of a Longer Journey
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...it, and then explains that he is planning on sending it back to Steerforth and Mrs. Steerforth before leaving the country. He also admits that he is anxious about Ham: he plans... (full context)
Chapter 56: The New Wound, and the Old
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...body to London that night; he feels that he should be the person to inform Mrs. Steerforth of her son's death. As David makes the journey, he feels as though he is... (full context)
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...he tells the maid that something has happened, and that he needs to speak to Mrs. Steerforth directly. He then waits in the drawing-room, surrounded by mementos of Steerforth, as the maid... (full context)
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Mrs. Steerforth expresses her condolences for Dora's death, and David replies that they all "must trust to... (full context)
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Upset, Mrs. Steerforth asks Rosa to come to her. Rosa does, but also asks whether Mrs. Steerforth's "pride"... (full context)
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Rosa continues, saying she loved Steerforth more truly than Mrs. Steerforth , and that she would have endured any mistreatment if she could have been his... (full context)
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David begins to say that Rosa ought to feel compassion for Mrs. Steerforth as a grieving mother, but Rosa interrupts, asking who will feel sorrow for her. David... (full context)
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David returns later that day with Steerforth's body, and learns that Rosa is still with Mrs. Steerforth , who is insensible despite doctors' efforts to revive her. He then walks around the... (full context)
Chapter 64: A Last Retrospect
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David describes a visit to Mrs. Steerforth and Rosa. Although Mrs. Steerforth still possesses "traces of old pride and beauty," her overall... (full context)