While the fact that someone felt that this unpublished letter was significant enough that it should be transcribed says something of the importance of the letter’s content already, these paratextual details further indicate that importance. From looking at the beautifully crafted cover to opening it and seeing the letter transcribed on heavy, expensive paper readers will be inclined to think that the content of this letter must be significant in some way. This is especially so when looked at alongside the other letters in the Dickens collection, because this letter was the only one bound and/or transcribed. The others are simply the actual letters, stained and aging unprotected by any ...view middle of the document...
He resented the church for its' hypocrisy and failure to live up to its’ principles (Charles Dickens' Faith). It was “the fanatical side of religion he had grown to hate” (Ferguson).
Later in life Dickens became involved in Unitarianism, a system which allowed him to “live without the dogmatic creeds of historic Christianity, yet affirm the existence of God and the humanity and divine mission of Jesus Christ” (Ferguson). What’s more, Unitarianism promoted social awareness, which appealed to Dickens (influenced by his experiences with poverty) as he felt that the church needed to take social action. For instance, he was “infuriated at the Christian faith” for disregarded Christ’s compassion for the poor (Charles Dickens' Faith). All in all, Dickens was rather anti-disestablishmentarian in his views (Allingham).
Most relevant to this paper, Dickens thoroughly opposed the church’s views on the education of children. It was “always a sensitive issue for him”, especially when it came to the religious education of his own children (Walder 12). For starters, Dickens was incensed by the unequal opportunity for education. He became a part of the Ragged School Movement, a philanthropic movement that provided for children who were excluded, by virtue of their poverty, from schooling (Smith). Working in the poorest city districts, teachers of this movement set up classrooms where they could afford; stables, lofts, railway arches, etc. The curriculum put an emphasis on reading, writing, arithmetic, and bible study (Smith).
Furthermore, as seen through his works including Bleak House, Dickens challenged the notions of total depravity and original sin. Dickens was especially opposed to the indoctrination of these ideas upon children (Colledge 95). He voiced his opposition in his literary works including with Chadband in Bleak house and Mrs. Clennam in Little Dorrit. As author Gary Colledge states in his work God and Charles Dickens: Recovering the Christian Voice of a Classic Author, Dickens challenges these notions in Bleak House with “his caricature of the self-proclaimed Reverend Chadband” (Colledge 95). One can detect Dickens’ sarcasm when the reverend preaches to Jo saying:
O running stream of sparkling joy. To be a soaring human boy! . . . Why do you not cool yourself in that stream now? Because you are in a state of darkness. . . you are in a state of sinfulness. (Dickens, Bleak House)
As Colledge describes, later in the novel Dickens orders Chadband to “sit down, shut up, and get out of the way in order that Jo might at least have some opportunity to see Jesus in the Gospels apart from the assault of the cheap opinions of bloated Self-absorbed preachers" (Colledge 95).
Again, in Little Dorrit, with a sardonic tone, Dickens expresses his perceptions of these doctrines. As Colledge goes on to explain:
“the character of Mrs. Clennam describes her upbringing in 'Wholesome repression, punishment and fear. The corruption of our hearts the evil...