Review of “The Clergyman”s Daughter”

A Clergyman's Daughter

A Clergyman’s Daughter by George Orwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Probably the most religious of Orwell’s novels it chronicles the fall and tribulations of Dorothy Hare, the Clergyman’s Daughter of the title. Like KEEP THE ASPIDISTRA FLYING, he uses the story of one person to criticize British society of the time. In this case, his targets are religion, agricultural economics, and the secondary education system. A side note – his discussion of the gypsy camp and gathering of hops is reminiscent of Upton Sinclair’s THE JUNGLE.

Without giving out any spoilers, the discussion of religion, faith, and practice at the end is one of the strongest arguments for what we now call ‘fake it to you make it.’ In both her final conversation with Mr. Warburton and her own conclusion, Dorothy lends credence that the practice of religion is as important as any faith that one has, that ritual has a place in providing a sense of purpose and order.

“There was, she saw clearly, no possible substitute for faith; no pagan acceptance of life as sufficient to itself, no pantheistic cheer-up stuff, no pseudo-religion of “progress” with visions of glittering Utopias and ant-heaps of steel and concrete. It is all or nothing. Either life on earth is a preparation for something greater and more lasting, or it is meaningless, dark and dreadful.”

In this simple paragraph, Orwell encapsulates one of the principal arguments for religion which will probably be a surprise for those readers that only know him from 1984 and ANIMAL FARM.

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