Immortal diamond : versions of selfhood in Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, Robert Browning and George Macdonald.
The aim of this thesis is to explore the versions of selfhood found in the works of Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, Robert Browning and George MacDonald in relation to patristic theological anthropology rather than to modern psychology. It sets the view of selfhood of these authors within the context of the English Christian and literary heritage and of their own period. The anthropology developed in patristic and mystical theology, an Incarnational theology, is examined to determine the central aspects of its vision of selfhood. This selfhood is identified as God-participating manhood rather than as psychological individuality. The self is the image of God in man. The existence of this conception of selfhood and its corollaries in English literature and religious thought is demonstrated and analysed, to establish the tradition and the possible sources of this vision available to the Victorians. The versions of selfhood in the works of Dickens, Carlyle, Browning and MacDonald are analysed, and discussed in relation to their individual sources of contact with traditional thinking about the self, sources held to validate personal religious intuition. The tradition is acknowledged as both conceptual and experiential. The authors' approach to selfhood is also related to that of the influential Incarnational theology of their period : to Tractarianism and its successors; to the Unitarian-influenced Christian Socialism of F. D. Maurice. Their agreement with these schools of theology about the nature of the self is indicated, suggesting a greater, if unacknowledged, unity between Victorian theologians and men of letters than previously has been supposed.