52 Puffins – #27 Uriah Heep (David Copperfield by Charles Dickens)

What is 52 Puffins – Waiting in the wings? Well, although we love our main characters, in 2013 we think it's time to celebrate the supporting cast: the extras with the witty one-liners, the dastardly villains and the best friend every hero would be lost without. Who's your favourite?  Download 52 Puffins – Questions – Download me! and send your answers to puffinblog@uk.penguingroup.com


UriahHeepYour character’s name and the book they star in . . .  

Uriah Heep in David
Copperfield
by Charles Dickens

Famous Friends 

Heep has few friends, besides his domineering and
sycophantic mother. The pair are sly and devious, constantly maintaining their
own ‘umble subservience whilst slowly accumulating power for themselves.

Hero or villain? 

Heep is the arch villain of Dickens’ epic bildungsroman. As
a mere humble clerk, Uriah begins to poison the mind of the honest Mr
Wickfield, seeking to take his business away from him in the process. Cunning
and Machiavellian, Heep is the hated enemy of the hero David Copperfield.

Why you love him?

The attraction of Dickens’ wicked villain is largely
inexplicable. At once engrossing and repulsive, Heep’s devilish mind provides a
refreshing contrast to the earnest Copperfield, Micawber and Wickfield.
Dickens’ marvellous depiction of the ‘umble clerk makes Uriah Heep the man you
love to hate.

What’s his catchphrase or best quote? 

"I am well
aware that I am the ‘umblest person going”

What wouldn't he leave the house without?

Heep would never leave his house without his shabby clothes.
Decked out it a grubby hat and frayed overcoat, he hardly screams sartorial
elegance, and is at pains to stress his own modesty. Heep is an ambitious man
from the lower classes, and his dress sense reflects this. 

Tell us something we might not know.

At the end of the novel, Heep is sentenced to
life transportation for his dastardly deeds. We do not discover his destination,
but it is likely that Heep is sent to one of the penal colonies, such as Australia

What really annoys him? 

Nothing, it seems, riles Uriah Heep more than his adversary
David Copperfield. The novel’s villain seems wracked by jealousy at David’s
social accession from a penniless orphan to a prospering author. In the novel’s
dénouement Heep finally drops his ingratiating façade, professing his total
hatred for David:  “Copperfield, I have always hated you. You’ve
always been an upstart, and you’ve always been against me”

What does he dream of? 

Aside from his professional plotting, Heep clearly has
designs on the lovely Agnes Wickfield to be his future wife. Not content with
sneaking in to steal her father’s business, Heep is intent on taking
Wickfield’s daughter as well. 


DavidCopperfieldWhere would you go to hang out together? 

Dickens succeeds in making the prospect of spending any
length of time with Uriah Heep deeply uninviting. We are most likely to find
Heep huddled over a book in the library at the dead of night. With the
lamplight flickering across his gaunt, leering face, I’m not sure I’d stick
around too long!


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