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Charles Dickens: Anti-Catholicism and Catholicism

Eslick, Mark A. (2011) Charles Dickens: Anti-Catholicism and Catholicism. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the role of anti-Catholicism and Catholicism in the life and work of Charles Dickens. A critical consensus has emerged that Dickens was vehemently anti-Catholic. Yet a 'curious dream' he had of his beloved dead sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth, in which her spirit appears to him in the guise of the Madonna, suggests that his overt anti-Catholicism masks a profoundly complex relationship to the 'Church of Rome'. 'Dickens: Anti-Catholicism and Catholicism' therefore re-evaluates the anti-Catholic sentiments in the author's novels, journalism and letters by contextualizing them in relation to key events of the nineteenth-century Catholic revival such as the 1850 Papal Aggression. I argue that Dickens often employs anti-Catholicism not simply as a religious prejudice, but as a mode of discourse through which he disrupts, displaces or reinforces a range of secular anxieties. 'Dickens: Anti-Catholicism and Catholicism' also uncovers and explores the often cryptic moments in Dickens's writing when Catholic motifs are invoked that suggest a strange 'attraction of repulsion' to Roman Catholicism. Catholicism seems to offer him a rich source of imaginative and narrative possibilities. Reading Dickens's fiction through the lens of Catholicism can therefore reveal a much more ambivalent relationship to the religion than his apparent beliefs as well as unearthing new ways of thinking about his work.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Depositing User: Dr Mark A. Eslick
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2012 11:10
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:48
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2243

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