[Adapted from Victorian Types, Victorian Shadows: Biblical Typology in Victorian Literature, Art, and Thought, 1980. Full text]
In addition to making use of detailed typological allusion to define character, Victorian novels employ other, far more secularized versions of typology, some of which are so distantly related to this kind of biblical symbolism that they are most profitably considered as secular analogues or offspring. Building upon the work of Paul J. Korshin and other scholars of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature, John R. Reed has well described
a tradition of secularized and immediate typology in English literature which persists into the nineteenth century. Consequently, it is not surprising to find Charles Dickens utilizing the model of The Pilgrim's Progress in The Old Curiosity Shop, or entitling his first novel The Adventures of Oliver Twist: or, The Parish Boy's Progress. Nor is it remarkable when Thackeray entitles one of his novels The Adventures of Philip on His Way Through the World Showing Who Robbed Him, Who Helped Him and Who Passed Him By, and continues the Samaritan motif throughout the novel in allusion as well as illustration.... Charles Aubrey, enduring his ordeal in Ten Thousand A- Year, is likened to Job in his suffering (See vol. 2, ch. 7; vol. 3, ch. 5) . The story of Jacob's experience with Leah and Rachel serves as a rough parallel to Stephen Blackpool's situation in Hard Times (see vol. 1, ch. 13) . He has married a wife who is no pleasure to him, while he dreams of the unattainable Rachel who is his true love. The friendship of John Halifax and Phineas Fletcher in Miss Mulock's John Halifax, Gentleman is sanctified by its resemblance to the scriptural model of Jonathan and David. These scriptural associations may be incidental or central to the stories concerned; they may be merely verbal or have a more stylized pictorial quality" (11).
Last modified 1998