Abel Magwitch: Infidel to Agnostic

Abel Magwitch is likely not the first person, real or fictional, who would come to mind when contemplating religion; however, while Abel had a difficult childhood, he still strives to follow some type of moral code. Abel is never without the Testament and obliges others to swear on it so that he may hold them accountable to their words and their actions.

Upon learning a bit more about Abel’s backstory, it appears that he never really had a chance when it came to avoiding a life of crime. Nonetheless, Abel clings to his little black book for many years, although he probably would not be considered religious or consider himself in this respect. This led me to draw a parallel between the mystery surrounding Abel’s religion and spirituality and one of the first few lines of Huxley’s “Agnosticism and Christianity”, which reads, “The people who call themselves ‘Agnostics’ have been charged with doing so because they have not the courage to declare themselves ‘Infidels.’ It has been insinuated that they have adopted a new name in order to escape the unpleasantness which attaches to their proper denomination.” Perhaps Abel continues to grasp onto the Testament because, for him, it is the difference between “Infidel”, and the negative connotations associated with this, and “Agnostic”, as well as the positive implications of this term. It also seems that, at the time during which this book was set to take place, society tended to tie Christianity to morality, so without being somewhat religious or spiritual, Abel feels he is nothing in the eyes of society and God. Abel is a much sought after convict, outcasted from society— perhaps he clings to what little semblance of religion he has in order to maintain some dignity and social status, at least in his own eyes, or in the eyes of society through himself.

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