By Linda M. Lewis
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Extra resources for Dickens, His Parables, and His Reader
In fairness it must be added, however, that this litany of churchmen is one-sided: among Dickens’s pastors are also Harry Maylie, a model of humility; Rev. Milvey, exemplar of toleration; and Rev. ” For quite some time, though, Dickens’s religion has been suspect among Dickensians. Writing in 1941, Humphry House comments that a theologian would find little in Dickens’s works to conclude that he was a Christian (given that much Victorian writing used biblical phrasing and religious language and that Dickens did no more).
His theology requires a heaven for redeemed characters like Nancy, who believes it “would be something not to die in the same hell in which I have lived” (OT 327). Because she has lived with “recklessness and despair” (OT 126) “in an abyss of crime and misery” (OT 358) and because— Oliver Twist and The Old Curiosity Shop 35 as she has predicted—she dies violently, Dickens rewards her. But he does not assign Sikes and Fagin to the fires of eternal brimstone.
The original text in the book of Matthew does not divulge the content of Jesus’ prayers. ”42 Skeptics note, however, that the young Dickens cannot console himself about the 1840 death of his young sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth, whom he imagined himself as loving more than he loved anyone else. 43 Dickens does not confess that he doubts the resurrection; he only laments that the promise of his future reunion with Mary does not assuage his present grief. Later, he imagines Mary’s soul as eternal, as being omnipresent in the world and in his dreams, as well as in heaven.