The Water Babies


By Charles Kingsley

cover image of The Water Babies

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Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies is a nineteenth-century fantastic story that can be read by both children and grownups. While the former will find in it a wonderful world of fairies and a treat for their imagination, the latter will additionally perceive its moral and philosophical aspects. The events center around the character of the young chimney-sweeper Tom who meets Ellie, a girl from an upper-class background. He falls into a river when running away from her family and drowns. The story has just begun, however, since Tom is soon born again to become a "water baby" and to go through infinite adventures in the river. The main themes present in most of Tom's experiences are related to goodness, altruism and morality, and since Kingsley is a priest, such concepts are mainly approached from a Christian perspective. Generally, Tom loves his new life and finds it much better than his previous one. He is also well respected by the other "water babies" and the rest of the river community. Later, other characters fall into the same river and join Tom, including his little upper-class friend and his master who is punished for his misdeeds. By the end of the novel, Tom is granted the opportunity to get back to human life for his good conduct. He becomes a great scientist and is united with Ellie.

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The Water Babies