YMMV / David Copperfield

  • Author's Saving Throw: Miss Mowcher's abrupt transformation from The Grotesque to heroic figure, after the woman on whom she was based recognized herself.
  • Damsel Scrappy: Agnes, for some readers.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Mr. and Mrs. Micawber, Steerforth, even Dora Spenlow, and a host of others. Many have noted that the least interesting character of David Copperfield is Davey himself.
  • Fair for Its Day: Among other instances, a lot of readers think Dickens' shipping of the Peggottys to Australia after Emily's fall from grace is unfair, but the book actually was a fair look at prostitution at the time (and that kind of thing really happened, too).
    • Not to mention the local prostitute, Martha, is treated as a sympathetic figure. Her Only Friend Emily clearly cares for her, helps her to go to London and start her life all over again, and later she helps Daniel and David to find Emily again.
    • Mr. Dick is portrayed fairly positively for a mentally challenged character in an older book.
  • Foe Yay: Uriah gets very touchy-feely with David, who for his part, is fascinated by Uriah's strange appearance. Once he compares Heep's reddish brown eyes to "two glowing suns", and another time, when Uriah has wormed himself into David's home, David gives in to an irresistible temptation to watch him sleep.
  • Ho Yay: The entirety of Steerforth and David's friendship is loaded with it, especially since in order to heighten the dramatic impact of Steerforth's ultimate betrayal Dickens gives David a number of unabashedly gushy rants that read exactly as though David has a crush on his older, handsome, hugely charming friend.
  • Jerk Ass Woobie: Yes, Rosa Dartle is a massive bitch, but in some interpretations a very tragic one as well.
  • Pinball Protagonist: David, increasingly towards the end of the book, is a mere looker-on at the dramatic resolution of others' subplots, including Micawber's expose of Heep and (less plausibly) Dan Peggotty's rescue of Emily.
  • Retroactive Recognition: The 1999 BBC adaptation features a number of actors who would go on to feature in the Harry Potter films.
  • Tear Jerker: So many! Like Mr. Mell being fired and humiliated, David being told that both his mother and half-brother died, Barkis's death, the revelation that Steerforth betrayed David and Ham via seducing Emily, and Dora's death.
    • In the 1935 adaptation, David, after finding his mother has married Murdstone and that he's furthermore been booted from his old bedroom near hers to a crappy, broken down guest room, tearfully reads his Crocodile Book, and then breaks down crying. It's hard not to feel for him.
  • Too Cool to Live: Many critics have complained about Steerforth's usurpation of the story.
  • Values Dissonance: Tons, most notably in the treatment of women. Much of the emotional impact of Emily's subplot depends on assumptions re: female virtue that are very nearly unimaginable today.
  • Wangst: Emily's endless weepy penitence can drive a modern reader up the wall.
  • The Woobie: David as a child. Also his mother, Dora and Little Emily.