MEET MR MURDSTONE
You'd think a man being introduced to his bride-to-be's young son for the very first time would be all smiles and charm, wouldn't you? Yes, well, that's not exactly Mr Murdstone's way. Wearing a black top hat and looming over David with the kind of facial expression you might pull if you spy a slug amid your salad leaves, Murdstone made absolutely no attempt to disguise the fact that he was about to ruin David's life for the forseeable future. No wonder the poor lad threw a massive strop.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Murdstone wasted no time in showing that he was a democratic sort of chap, and that it wouldn't just be David bearing the brunt. Oh goodness, no. Murdstone was more than happy to share out equal amounts of contempt to everyone around him. Take the time sweet maid Peggotty called David's mum "Mrs Copperfield". Big mistake. "She has a new name: Murdstone," he told Peggotty in his most icy, assassin-like tones. "Oblige me by remembering that in future." Consider yourself obliged, you terrifying man.
A FATHER-SON CHAT
Realising that David really wasn't all that fond of him, Murdstone decided it was time to have a good, honest, stepdad-and-son chat. You know, to smooth things over. "If I have an obstinate dog or horse to deal with, what do you think I do?" he asked David, who wisely didn't say a word in response. "I beat him," Murdstone explained. "I make him wince." He then made a casual comment about potentially draining David of all his blood, because that's how Mr Murdstone likes to end conversations sometimes.
A NICE FAMILY DINNER
Over dinner one evening, David's mum Clara thought it might be safe to ask why parts of her home had been re-arranged while she was out. Murdstone reacted in his usual open and fair-minded way, first accusing her of "base ingratitude", and then musing out loud about how "this shabby response chills and alters my feelings for you." Then, just when the row seemed to be over, he casually ordered David - who had nothing to do with this conversation - to leave the table and go to his room, before the boy had even a bite to eat. Why? Just to upset Clara. Naturally.
One of David's few pleasures in life was playing around with his lovely maid, Peggotty. Until Murdstone decided to put a stop to that, because he is the sworn enemy of all happiness. Grabbing David by his face and pulling him away from Peggotty, he rebuked the boy for his attachment to "low and common company". That was right in front of Peggotty herself, mind you, because the one thing you can't accuse Murdstone of is talking behind people's backs.
Mr Murdstone was quite the stickler when it came to David receiving a good education. And also a good punishment, if he ever slipped up. Unfortunately, David indeed slip up when it came to an arithmetic test, which meant Murdstone had absolutely no choice but to flog him with a cane, again and again and again, while David cried out and his mother wept in despair. Still, Murdstone probably took absolutely no pleasure in any of it. Of course not, because that would make him an absolute rotter of a man...