Studies in Literature and Culture
The Vision of Brotherhood of Man in Charles Kingsley’s Novel Alton Locke
← 122 | 123 →Aleksandra Krajewska
A true polymath, clergyman, scholar, poet, novelist, essayist, social activist and natural historian – not every Victorian man of letters was as farseeing and open-minded as Charles Kingsley. He was shaped by two sources: faith and knowledge. As a clergyman he strongly believed in the righteousness of God’s laws and as an academic he admired the achievements in the world of science and technology. As Alan Rauch argues, Kingsley did not perceive those disciplines as antithetical, on the contrary, for him they were “the evidence not only of the existence of God but of a man’s special place in the ‘creation’” (Rauch 1993, 197) and in the world. What characterized this talented man was his faith in human beings, in their abilities, skills and above all, their capability to do good. He was able to see that the times he was living in were revolutionary in many different fields and aspects of life, the academic disciplines were expanding, the standards of life, health and hygiene were rising and that the pace of life was increasing. Simultaneously, new opportunities arose for entrepreneurial individuals who sought fortune in new industries. However, during that era of change and progress, there was also a large group of underprivileged British citizens whose financial and professional situation was unstable – the working class. Kingsley, who was famous for his sympathy towards the poor, could not stay silent in the face of human misery; hence, to express his concern, in 1850 he published a novel entitled Alton Locke: Tailor...
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