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Edward Murdstone (David Copperfield 1993)

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In the 1993 holiday animated adaptation of the classic Dickens novel David Copperfield, Edward Murdstone is the main antagonist who forcefully marries the protagonist's mother and forces him into horrid working conditions while doing everything in his power to gain more money. He is voiced by Michael York.


Edward first appears in the special with his rat associate Grimby as they abduct homeless children to work in his factory. He comes to David's mother Clara who believes that he will be a good father figure for David and be able to provide for him. David, as well as everyone else, senses something horrible about him and refuses to regard Murdstone with any level of respect, much to his mother's worry. Murdstone barely hides his wicked side, acting civil before Clara but coming in while unwelcome, particularly on David's Christmas/birthday party. Despite David's protests, Clara marries Murdstone who repeatedly reassures her that it's for the best. In the meantime, he also harasses David and belittles him for having an imagination. Perhaps, his initial cruelty is best demonstrated when he nearly crushes David's little bird to death to demonstrate the cruelty of the real world.

When Clara is brought down by illness, Murdstone arranges for David to move with him to London where he'll work in his factory. David protests but is forced to go along, although he has a chance encounter with love interest Agnes Wickfield when her father the Duke comes by Murdstone's factory. Once they are gone, Murdstone cruelly throws David into the factory where he is beaten and tossed about by Murdstone's security force-all set to his Villain Song "Welcome to My Workhouse" and the laughter of his goons.

Throughout the film, most of Murdstone's scenes consist of actions reaffirming his villainy, such as destroying Clara's letters to David and counting down the days until her death, which she eventually does. While David befriends a canine worker named Mealy and is able to reach out to Agnes, Murdstone tries everything in order to break David's spirit so as to make him a "perfect worker". David receives care from the simian Micawber family who pretend to be cruel lashers when under the eyes of Murdstone's forces. Once Murdstone catches onto the Micawbers' support of David, he threatens to make their children into workers, forcing them to comply with his demands.

It is also shown in the meantime that he has been conducting unusual experiments with his cheese (showing something of a mad scientist side) which leads to the creation of the "Moldies", unfortunate victims entrapped in a mold-like slime and kept under the factory as a threat towards any slouching worker. Following David's escape from the factory, he imprisons Mealy and Mr. Micawber to be taken by the Moldies. Determined to capture David and the accompanying Agnes, he and Grimby follow their trail but fail to catch them although they spread the word that David died in order to break the workers' morale (all while dancing in front of an aflame boiler, no less).

Helped by his Aunt Betsy and a group of policemen, David leads an attack against Murdstone while the villain attempts to sway the Duke into signing over the cheese factory to him. He tries to take them out with a cheese gun, but is defeated after he and Grimby are knocked into and trapped in blocks of cheese. The two are arrested and sent to prison for their crimes. Following their defeat, the "Moldies" are restored to normal by exposure to sunlight that causes their shells to break.

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