English literature has passed many strong periods. One of these periods is the Victorian Period, the period between years 1820 and 1914, nearly exact to the period of Queen Victoria’s reign (1837–1901). Victorian Period is characterised by a growing state and economy, a raising population who can vote, a class-based society and Britain’s circumstance as the most powerful empire in the world. When it comes to the literature, Victorian literature is the body of fiction, poetry, letters, and essays. Thus, this essay is going to analyse Victorian Age works while referring to the social cultural background and literacy occurrences.
Victorian age literature can be regarded as a response to social conditions and historical events. Victorian Age was a time of revolution in England. With the Industrial Revolution in full swing, manufacturing cities were over-populated and filthy. Many citizens were living in poverty and dirt. Men, women, and children has worked long hours in terrible situations. Debtors’ prisons and workhouses were filled with the poor people. People finally began to be concerned with these conditions, and several laws were legislated to reduce working hours and clean up the cities. Reform may be a common theme in Victorian literature.
Christianity and God, self-motivation, responsibility and morals concerned early Victorian literature. Many Victorian protagonists struggle with right actions in given conditions and move in a world populated by Christians, governed by God and organised by the Church of England. Novels gave priority to strengthen class hierarchy and the traditional domestic roles of women. Nonetheless, Victorian literature was also struggling with societal and scientific change; the publication of Charles Darwin’s books, “On the Origin of Species” and the growing movement for rights for laborers, women and children influenced writers such as Gaskell and Tennyson, who expressed sympathy for them in their works. Charles Dickens often wrote about the advance of industrialisation in his novels, symbolised by the expansion of the steam engine train.
Early Victorian poems sometimes were coming after the form of an epic and were often long. Many early Victorian poems, such as Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “Lady of Shalott” and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee?” follow rigid structures in terms of rhyme and rhythm. Some early Victorian poems carry a nostalgic tone, just like in Thomas Hood’s poem “I Remember, I Remember.” As this poem reminds childhood memories while the poet deals with his childhood memories and compares his serenity from childhood to present. Race gender and class which are the views of early Victorian narrators and protagonists are the image of common stereotypes. Victorians believed that the lower classes and other races were naturally mediocre in their physical look and were irrational, childlike, superstitious, criminal, exceptionally sexual and messy. However, early Victorian literature upheld the Victorian gentleman as respectable, Christian, rational, honourably positive, and as the ideal human being. Middle-class women barely work in Victorian novels, and they symbolise the family relations and mother role, which they hardly leave.
Moreover, the Mid-Victorian Period of Britain contained many cultural and social movements, nonetheless there is a word that stands above the rest and certainly defined the period. One word, “progress” sums up the whole time period. Reforms were sufficient and covered a wide variety of issues. All social classes, ranks, occupations and many others were influenced by the cult of progress and its dedication to developing the kingdom. The Victorian era was much less turbulent than the previous Victorian era, as the relationship between industry and government began to improve itself. However, the time was still one of the great poverties and difficulty for many, even as England began to enjoy greater prosperity. During the scientific studies of that time, Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) and Descent of Man (1871) challenged previous ideas about creation and the role of man in the world. As popular readers understand Darwin, man was surrounded by many creatures that existed as a product of a long history of evolution. The mid-Victorian era would eventually cope in the last decades of the Victorian era and see opposing forces, such as the promise of progress, and the void of beliefs for a long time, and would eventually be taken back.
For many, the late-Victorian period was hardly an extension, incompletely on the surface, of the prosperity of the previous years. For many others, the late Victorian period became a time necessarily question which are the assumption and practices had made such prosperity possible. It became a time to hold England to account for the way in which it had generated wealth for so few on the backs of so many, both at home and all over the empire. The political writings of authors such as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels empowered the working class to imagine itself in control of the industry that it made possible. The Late Victorian novelists saw themselves as public missionaries and reformers rather than entertainers. There were a pessimism and seriousness in their novels, unlike the novelist of early and mid-Victorian novelists. The Late Victorian novelists were hostile and critical in a sense, they were against their age and social and moral values and order.
In conclusion, the Victorian period was a time of the Britain’s enlightenment, also a time to change. People lived in poor conditions, as novelists reflect the social conditions in their works. However, it was an actual chance of questioning the wealth and not only classes, but the ideologies and regime. In my opinions, looking back into the other periods, the Victorian Period was the real opportunity to share ideas and revolting the flow of the time.