|Rapple, Brendan. “The Motif of Water in Charles
Kingsley's The Water-Babies,” University of Mississippi Studies
in English Vol. XI-XII (1993-1995): 259-71.
Kingsley uses the motif of water in The Water-Babies to preach the virtues of bathing and washing. Cleaning the body and the inculcation of good sanitary habits is also an effective method of preventing disease. In addition, washing with water, preferably cold water, helps the attainment of moral rectitude. “However, the depiction of water as a cleansing agent may also be viewed in an allegorical sense, namely as purifying morally and spiritually both the individual Tom as well as the collective society. Only after Tom's baptismal washing and consequent Christian rebirth does his deeply felt wish ‘I must be clean, I must be clean’ begin to be truly satisfied. Only after an analogous allegorical cleansing can any genuine regeneration of England occur” (269).