With David Copperfield, Dickens temporarily lessened the role of social critticism to concentrate more on somiautobiography. The novel describes a young man's discovery of the realities of adult life. David's youth is clearly patterned after Dicken's youth.
David Copperfield relates the story of his life- transmuting many of the early experiences of his creator right from his birth to his attainment of settled maturity and successful authorship. On his journey, David encounters a gallery of memorable characters, kind, cruel or grotesque: Mr. Micawber, Uriah Heep and Steerfoth are among the many who shape his development.
By turns absorbingly, dramatic, ironic, and tender, the novel brings into energetic life the society and preoccupations of the mid- Victorian world.
Dickens is now considered one of the major figures in English literature, but his position was not always so high. His reputation declined between 1880 and 1940.
Critics valued Dickens chiefly as an entertainer and, above all, as a creator of a huge gallery of comic, pleasant, and villainous characters. They recognized him as a master creator pf plot and scene, and as a sharp-eyed observer of London life. But they considered his outlook simple and unrealistic. They believed ha lacked artistic taste and relied too much on broad comedy, dramatic effects, sentimentalit, and superfecial psychology.
However, since 1940, numerous books and essays have described Dickens as a writer of considerable depth and complexity. He has also been praised as a sensitive and philolosophic observer of human struggles within social institutions. In this sense, Dickens has been associated with such authors as Herman Melville, Franz Kafka, and Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Recent criticism has demonstrated that Dickens can no longer be regarded only as an entertainer, though his ability to entertain in probably the major reason for his popularity.
Whatever his other claims to greatness maz be, Dickens ranks as a superbly inventive comic artist. His Characters have been compared to those of Shakespeare in their variety, colour, energy, and life. Dickens was aware of human evil, but he never lost his perspective. His art was sustained by an awareness and appreciation of the human comedy.