David Copperfield

David Copperfield

Uriah Heep is one of the novel's primary antagonists, becoming the main villain shortly after David escapes from Mr. Murdstone's control. He is initially introduced as an apprentice at Mr. Wickfield's legal practice, but he eventually becomes Mr. Wickfield's partner. It turns out, however, that Uriah has secured his position through a variety of underhanded and illegal means: in addition to encouraging Mr. Wickfield's drinking habit, he exploited his employer's resulting confusion by forging his signature on multiple questionable business dealings, and then threatening to expose Mr. Wickfield's supposed crimes. Throughout this period, Uriah has also been attempting to force Mr. Wickfield's daughter, Agnes, to marry him as a way of cementing his power in the household. Uriah comes from a working-class background that he has not been able to fully cast off even in his position at Mr. Wickfield's legal practice. For instance, he retains the speech patterns of a lower-class person (dropping the initial H in words). To complicate matters further, the constraints of the Victorian class system mean that Uriah can only express his hopes for advancement in a backhanded way by insisting that he is too "umble" to have any ambitions at all. As a result, Uriah intensely resents anyone who occupies a more respected or privileged position in society—particularly David, perhaps because the two men are otherwise so similar. In fact, Dickens implies that Uriah wishes to marry Agnes at least in part because he senses that David is in love with her, and hopes to cause his rival pain. As the novel ends, Uriah is in prison, claiming to have been reformed. His protestations ring hollow, however, because they refer to the same "humbleness" that Uriah has used throughout the novel as a way of advancing socially.

Uriah Heep Quotes in David Copperfield

The David Copperfield quotes below are all either spoken by Uriah Heep or refer to Uriah Heep. 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 16 Quotes

"Perhaps you'll be a partner in Mr. Wickfield's business, one of these days," I said, to make myself agreeable; "and it will be Wickfield and Heep, or Heep late Wickfield."

"Oh, no, Master Copperfield," returned Uriah, shaking his head, "I am much too umble for that!"

Related Characters: David Copperfield (speaker), Uriah Heep (speaker), Mr. Wickfield
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 39 Quotes

"Father and me was both brought up at a foundation for boys; and mother, she was likewise brought up at a public, sort of charitable, establishment. They taught us all a deal of umbleness—not much else that I know of, from morning to night. We was to be umble to this person, and umble to that; and to pull off our caps here, and to make bows there; and always to know our place, and abase ourselves before our betters […] Father got made a sexton by being umble. He had the character, among the gentlefolks, of being such a well-behaved man, that they were determined to bring him in."

Related Characters: Uriah Heep (speaker), David Copperfield, Mrs. Heep
Page Number: 479–480
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 52 Quotes

"Copperfield, I have always hated you. You've always been an upstart, and you've always been against me."

"As I think I told you once before," said I, "it is you who have been, in your greed and cunning, against all the world. It may be profitable to you to reflect, n future, that there never were greed and cunning in the world yet, that did not do too much, and over-reach themselves. It is as certain as death."

Related Characters: David Copperfield (speaker), Uriah Heep (speaker)
Page Number: 631
Explanation and Analysis:
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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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Uriah Heep Character Timeline in David Copperfield

The timeline below shows where the character Uriah Heep appears in David Copperfield. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 15: I Make Another Beginning
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...notices a red-haired person with a "cadaverous face" at one of the windows. This man, Uriah Heep, opens the door and directs them inside to Mr. Wickfield. As David enters the... (full context)
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...that from his location in Mr. Wickfield's office, he can see into the room where Uriah is working. This disturbs him, because Uriah periodically stares at David with eyes "like two... (full context)
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...when first traveling to Miss Betsey's. When he returned to the house, he ran into Uriah Heep and shook his hand, only to find that it was revoltingly cold and damp.... (full context)
Chapter 16: I Am a New Boy in More Senses Than One
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...David, and Agnes then prepare to sit down for dinner, but they are interrupted by Uriah Heep, who says that Jack Maldon wants to speak with Mr. Wickfield. Meanwhile, David notices... (full context)
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...goes to read in Mr. Wickfield's study, but decides at the last minute to visit Uriah Heep, whom he finds hard at work. Uriah explains that he is studying law, but... (full context)
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Finally, Uriah says he needs to return home so as not to worry his mother, and asks... (full context)
Chapter 17: Somebody Turns Up
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...day, David is walking Mr. Dick back to the coach office when he stumbles across Uriah Heep. Uriah reminds David that he had promised to come and have tea at his... (full context)
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When David arrives at Uriah Heep's house, he finds that Mrs. Heep closely resembles her son. She also shares his... (full context)
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...will let something slip about his time at the counting-house. However, David introduces Micawber to Uriah and Mrs. Heep, who protest that they are too lowly to be considered David's friends.... (full context)
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The evening before David is scheduled to dine with the Micawbers, he happens to see Uriah and Mr. Micawber walking along the street together talking. This unnerves David, particularly when Micawber... (full context)
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Despite David's misgivings about Uriah, the dinner itself passes happily: David and the Micawbers drink, exchange compliments, and sing "Auld... (full context)
Chapter 19: I Look About Me, and Make a Discovery
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...admits that he has, and delicately attributes it to increased drinking. He also remarks that Uriah Heep often calls Mr. Wickfield away to do business when he is at his drunkest,... (full context)
Chapter 25: Good and Bad Angels
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...Agnes teases him about his many "violent attachments." She then asks if he has seen Uriah, who was in London a week earlier on business; Agnes believes he is going to... (full context)
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Agnes explains that while her father seemed distressed by Uriah's trip to London (that is, the prospect of becoming partners with him), he also looked... (full context)
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...next day, including Mr. Waterbrook, an imposing couple named Mr. and Mrs. Henry Spiker, and Uriah Heep, who fawns over David for much of the evening. One guest, however, is named... (full context)
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...soon, since he feels more impressed by her goodness than ever. Much to David's annoyance, Uriah Heep hovers nearby throughout his conversation with Agnes. Remembering his promise to Agnes, however, he... (full context)
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David leads Uriah to his apartment, which Uriah praises at great length. He then asks whether David has... (full context)
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David begins to fear that Uriah is somehow tricking or taking advantage of him, but finally manages to ask about Mr.... (full context)
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Uriah asks whether he can confide in David, and—when David reluctantly agrees—says that David must have... (full context)
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Uriah remarks that it is very late, and that the hotel he is staying at will... (full context)
Chapter 26: I Fall into Captivity
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David sees Uriah again a few days later as he says goodbye to Agnes at the coach office.... (full context)
Chapter 35: Depression
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As they walk, Agnes tells David that Mr. Wickfield and Uriah are in London as well; they are now partners, and Agnes has made the journey... (full context)
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There is a knock on the door, and Mr. Wickfield and Uriah Heep arrive. David notices that Mr. Wickfield looks much worse than the last time he... (full context)
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...been telling Agnes about her finances, and that Agnes is "worth the whole firm." When Uriah Heep agrees, Miss Betsey retorts that being a partner himself should satisfy him. Uriah then... (full context)
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Mr. Wickfield says he agrees with Uriah, and that Uriah has helped him by relieving him of much of his workload. Uriah... (full context)
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After Uriah leaves, the rest of the group reminisces about their time in Canterbury, and Mr. Wickfield... (full context)
Chapter 36: Enthusiasm
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...says that his new position is in Canterbury. What's more, he will be working as Uriah Heep's clerk. David is stunned, so Micawber explains the Uriah answered his advertisement, helping him... (full context)
Chapter 39: Wickfield and Heep
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...to soar to any exalted form of expression." When David asks Mr. Micawber's opinion of Uriah himself, however, he is surprised to hear Micawber praise Uriah for having advanced him money.... (full context)
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Before writing to Dora's aunts, David decides to go visit Mr. Wickfield and Uriah Heep downstairs. Uriah greets David in a "fawning" manner before taking him to Mr. Wickfield's... (full context)
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...she says she is "only pretty well" before hinting that she sees a change in Uriah. David denies this, but Mrs. Heep insists that she has noticed a new "thinness" in... (full context)
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After dinner, David finds himself alone with Mr. Wickfield and Uriah, who "leers" and "writhes" constantly. They then rejoin Agnes and Mrs. Heep in the drawing... (full context)
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As David walks, he debates telling Agnes what he knows about Uriah's designs on her. Before he has gone far, however, he is approached by Uriah himself,... (full context)
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Uriah (who has already interrupted David many times to praise Agnes) grabs David's hand and kisses... (full context)
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As Uriah talks, David begins to understand that he wants revenge for his "long suppression'' of himself... (full context)
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Uriah proposes a toast to Agnes, describing her as the "divinest of her sex," and finally... (full context)
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...can't even remember everything he has done under the influence of alcohol. He says that Uriah knows, however, and Uriah again scolds Wickfield for speaking so freely. At that moment, Agnes... (full context)
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...gets up early and prepares to leave. As he is getting in the coach, however, Uriah appears and informs him that he and Mr. Wickfield have already made up. David retorts... (full context)
Chapter 42: Mischief
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...visit will do Wickfield good. Mrs. Heep also comes for a "change of air," and Uriah accompanies her to help settle her into her rooms. (full context)
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In a private conversation, Uriah tells David that he is "jealous" and wants to "keep an eye on" someone he... (full context)
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At that moment, Jack Maldon himself arrives at Doctor Strong's, and Uriah begins laughing. David walks away in disgust. (full context)
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...her home life has improved. Agnes admits that it has not, but assures David that Uriah has not brought up the topic of marriage again, and that David should worry about... (full context)
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...is working on the dictionary, David peeks in and sees the Doctor, Mr. Wickfield, and Uriah in the midst of an apparently serious conversation: Doctor Strong has his face buried in... (full context)
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Mr. Wickfield attempts to retract his own suspicions of Annie Strong, but Uriah claims to have witnessed them firsthand. Eventually, Mr. Wickfield admits that he has "doubts," and... (full context)
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Uriah reiterates that as painful as the subject is, he had no choice to bring it... (full context)
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Doctor Strong leaves the room, accompanied by Mr. Wickfield. Uriah remarks that he didn't expect Doctor Strong's reaction, and attributes it to "blindness." David—who was... (full context)
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After a long silence, Uriah finally says that David has never liked him. Despite this, however, Uriah says that he... (full context)
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The next day, David sees Uriah walking with his mother, Mrs. Heep; Uriah's face is wrapped up in a handkerchief, and... (full context)
Chapter 45: Mr. Dick Fulfills My Aunt's Prediction
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...to reveal what he knows and—at Annie's urging—explains the conversation that took place between him, Uriah Heep, Mr. Wickfield, and Doctor Strong. When he finishes, Annie finally allows Mr. Dick to... (full context)
Chapter 49: I Am Involved in Mystery
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...se, since he himself is a lawyer. Micawber, however, doesn't respond until David asks how Uriah is. At this, he explodes, saying that Uriah is not his friend, that Uriah's "... (full context)
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...is precarious. At Mr. Dick's urging, Micawber continues, saying that if he weren't working for Uriah, his whole family would likely be part of a traveling circus. He is in the... (full context)
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...matter; deception, fraud, conspiracy, are the matter; and the name of the whole atrocious mass is—HEEP." He then announces that he won't remain cut off from all his friends and family... (full context)
Chapter 52: I Assist at an Explosion
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...then shows David, Traddles, Miss Betsey, and Mr. Dick inside, and announces their presence to Uriah. Uriah is momentarily surprised, but then greets them fawningly, saying that he hopes Dora is... (full context)
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...Traddles seem to be communicating silently with one another. Eventually, Traddles leaves the room. Meanwhile, Uriah repeatedly tells Mr. Micawber to leave, but Micawber ignores him, finally saying that he "chooses"... (full context)
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Traddles returns with Mrs. Heep and—when Uriah asks him who he is—explains that he has a power of attorney to act on... (full context)
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Uriah invites Mr. Micawber to say what he has to say, and Micawber—who has barely been... (full context)
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...he resumes reading his letter, explaining that his financial difficulties quickly forced him to ask Uriah for advances, just as Uriah had anticipated: by placing Micawber in his debt, Uriah secured... (full context)
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Mr. Micawber begins to lay out his case against Uriah. His first "charge" is that Uriah took advantage of Mr. Wickfield's episodes of drunkenness to... (full context)
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Mr. Micawber's second charge is that Uriah also forged Mr. Wickfield's signature on various documents, including one in which Uriah supposedly advances... (full context)
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Uriah once again ignores Mrs. Heep and fixates on David as the cause of all his... (full context)
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...his family will undergo as a result of the sacrifice he has made in leaving Uriah's employment. Meanwhile, Uriah opens a safe he keeps in the office, only to find that... (full context)
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Suddenly, Miss Betsey grabs Uriah by the collar and says she wants her property back: she explains that she thought... (full context)
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Uriah asks what David wants to do, and Traddles explains what "must be done." First, he... (full context)
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Traddles tells Uriah he can go think things over in his room. Before leaving, however, Uriah turns to... (full context)
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...to his house. Agnes 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... (full context)
Chapter 54: Mr. Micawber's Transactions
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David does not intend to leave England until after the entire affair with Uriah has been resolved, and after Mr. Peggotty and Emily have left for Australia. He therefore... (full context)
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...has worked impressively hard the past few weeks to uncover and set right all of Uriah's treachery. Furthermore, Traddles says, Mr. Dick has been very helpful, both by cheering Mr. Wickfield... (full context)
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...responsible for her losses and therefore kept quiet, and Traddles says that it was actually Uriah who signed the documents, in part to make Wickfield believe he himself had stolen the... (full context)
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Miss Betsey asks whether Traddles really managed to get all the money back from Uriah, and Traddles says that Mr. Micawber's thoroughness left Uriah no possible way of avoiding repayment.... (full context)
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...the subject to Mr. Micawber, and Traddles reiterates how important his help was in catching Uriah. Miss Betsey asks how much money, given this, they ought to provide Micawber with, and... (full context)
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...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 light. Miss... (full context)
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...her that he was sorry. He died just before Miss Betsey left for Canterbury, so Uriah's threats ended up being "vain." (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 debt and that Micawber consequently expects to soon die of anguish.... (full context)
Chapter 60: Agnes
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...Canterbury the next day and lingers outside Mr. Wickfield's house, looking at the office where Uriah and Mr. Micawber used to work. That room is now a parlor, but the house... (full context)
Chapter 61: I Am Shown Two Interesting Penitents
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...group arrives at Twenty-Seven's cell, and David is surprised to see that the prisoner is Uriah Heep, who greets both him and Traddles. Mr. Creakle asks Uriah how he is, and... (full context)
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...affected by what the latter has said and repent. Littimer then exchanges a glance with Uriah and returns to his cell. Mr. Creakle asks whether there is anything more he can... (full context)
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Mr. Creakle asks whether Uriah has anything to say to David. Uriah says he does, reminding David that he once... (full context)
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David asks a magistrate what crime led to Uriah's imprisonment, and learns that he was the ringleader in a case of "fraud, forgery, and... (full context)
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...tour ends, David feels it would be useless to try to convince Mr. Creakle that Uriah and Littimer are not repentant at all. Instead, he and Traddles simply leave the prisoners... (full context)