Lection Connection

November 8, 2020: Door Shut or Open?

From Ray McGinnis


The Personal History of David Copperfield is based on the novel by Charles Dickens published in 1850. The film, like the novel, is narrated in the first person by David Copperfield. The film describes his life from his birth until middle age. Given the novel is over 1,200 pages long, spanning 64 chapters, the film does well to select certain adventures Copperfield has with numerous friends and enemies he meets along his life’s path – from neglected child, abused boy, child factory worker, to accomplished writer.


In the film, Copperfield’s personal growth is spurred by his encounters with the people who enter and leave his life as the years pass – the wicked and thieving Uriah Heep, the aristocratic James Steerforth, and the penniless Wilkins Micawber. Throughout it all he lives in optimistic expectation of better fortune and makes observations about the human condition, people’s foibles, and their cries for justice.


Type: Comedy-Drama

Director: Armando Iannucci

Film company: Searchlight

Release date: August 28, 2020

Starring: Dev Patel (David Copperfield), Ben Whishaw (Uriah Heep), Aneurin Barnard (James Steerforth), Anthony Welsh (Ham Peggoty), Peter Capaldi (Mr. Micawber)



David Copperfield meets James Steerforth at the Salem House boarding school for boys. For Copperfield, Steerforth represents everything Heep is not. Steerforth is born a gentleman. When he walks into a room, people are captivated by his presence and charisma, which advance his connections and power. Copperfield imagines Steerforth is capable of doing great things. However, Steerforth ultimately shows himself as he truly is: brutal, condescending, selfish and cruel towards those beneath his station. When Copperfield takes Steerforth to meet his friends in Yarmouth, Steerforth woos Little Emily on the eve of her wedding to Ham, her cousin and fiancé. Steerforth takes Little Emily to Italy where he abandons her. The paradox is that even as Copperfield comprehends Steerforth’s infamy, he remains dazzled by Steerforth’s aristocratic ascendancy.


Explore…Matthew 25:1–13

  • What is the importance in this parable about lamps and oil?
  • What does it mean to “keep awake”?
  • How does David Copperfield keep awake?
  • When have you experienced being unprepared for what is unfolding in the present moment? How do you keep awake? How to you keep the door open to God’s presence?



God of the coming kingdom, we are often drowsy and prone to sleep; help us keep awake so that we can do what is necessary to prepare for the arrival of your kingdom. We do not know the day or the hour when our world will be transformed; help us wait with confidence that the day is coming. Help us keep our lamps lit so that we will be ready to enter the banquet. In Christ we pray. Amen.


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