In Bleak House, Dickens gives us a panoramic view of the corrupted English society of his day. Scholars have dissected the novel for decades, and often read it through the lens of these corrupted institutions. However, their attention focuses primarily on the Aristocracy or the Courts, forgetting one institution nearly as large and just as corrupt: the Church. On closer examination of the novel, it is clear that Dickens had this institution in mind as one which added to the nation's decay. It is particularly interesting to note that Bleak House began its serial run in 1852, just one year after the religious census which showed how great a sectarian divide existed in the nation. By examining the novel through the division and corruption of the church in all its denominational leanings, we can come to a fuller understanding of the importance of the church itself in Victorian religious culture, and perhaps even get a glimpse into another matter of intense debate: Dickens's own personal religious beliefs.

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