London Labour and the London Poor Themes

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Religion

Religion is a major theme in Mayhew's work. He queries every person interviewed about his or her religious education and beliefs. Mayhew clearly considers a familiarity with the Christian Bible as important, or more important, than the ability to read and write. Mayhew seems to imply that the individuals interviewed are poor because they are not religious. This reflectsa common belief in Victorian times, that poverty and often disease were God's punishment for sinful behavior or a lack of belief. When Mayhew does encounter a religious pauper, he is more likely to assume that the person has good motives and is simply unfortunate. Still, Mayhew assumes that most wealthy people are religious and highly moral, while most poor people are non-religious and immoral.

For Mayhew, of course, religion means Christian and Protestant, perhaps even Church of England. He is as apt to denigrate the Irish for being Catholic...

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This section contains 1,063 words
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Buy the London Labour and the London Poor Study Guide
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