Você está na página 1de 7

Victorian Era (1837 1901)

Period: 1 2 3 5 (CIRCLE ONE)


Characteristics of Victorian Literature

British history is two thousand years old, and yet in a
good many ways, the world has moved farther ahead
since the Queen was born than it moved in all the rest of
the two thousand put together.
~Mark Twain during Queen Victorias 60th anniversary, 1897

The literature of the Victorian age (1837 1901, named for the reign of
Queen Victoria) entered in a new period after the romantic revival. During
this period, Britain became the wealthiest nation in the world, due to the
rapid and widespread expansion of the British Empire. In addition, the
Victorians made the first real attempts to fix the massive social problems
caused by the industrial and democratic revolutions of the Romantic period.
The term Victorian is still used as a synonym for prude today, a term that
reflects the extreme repression of the age (even chair legs had to be
covered, because they were thought to be too suggestive). But this is a
pretty limited view of the Victorians. A huge segment of society was
engaged in the discussion and debate of new ideas and theories, almost
everyone was a voracious reader, and intellectual seriousness and liveliness
formed the basis for the larger process of growth, change, and adjustment
through the era. The Victorian Age was a time of HUGE social and political
development, and it can be more easily managed when broken down into
three phases: early, middle, and late.
The Literature
The literature of this era expressed the fusion of pure romance to gross
realism. Though, the Victorian Age produced great poets, the age is also
remarkable for the excellence of its prose. The discoveries of science have
particular effects upon the literature of the age. If you study all the great
writers of this period, you will mark four general characteristics:

1. Literature of this age tends to come closer to daily life which reflects its
practical problems and interests. It becomes a powerful instrument for
human progress. Socially & economically, Industrialism was on the rise
and various reform movements like emancipation, child labor, womens
rights, and evolution.
2. Moral Purpose: The Victorian literature seems to deviate from "art for
art's sake" and asserts its moral purpose. Tennyson, Browning, Carlyle,
Ruskin - all were the teachers of England with the faith in their moral
message to instruct the world.
3. Idealism: It is often considered as an age of doubt and pessimism. The
influence of science is felt here. The whole age seems to be caught in
the conception of man in relation to the universe with the idea of
4. Though, the age is characterized as practical and materialistic, most of
the writers exalt a purely ideal life. It is an idealistic age where the
great ideals like truth, justice, love, brotherhood are emphasized by
poets, essayists and novelists of the age.
The Style of the Victorian Novel
Victorian novels tend to be idealized portraits of difficult lives in which hard
work, perseverance, love and luck win out in the end; virtue would be
rewarded and wrongdoers are suitably punished. They tended to be of an
improving nature with a central moral lesson at heart. While this formula was
the basis for much of earlier Victorian fiction, the situation became more
complex as the century progressed.
Victorian literature is the literature produced during the reign of Queen
Victoria (1837-1901) and corresponds to the Victorian era. It forms a link and
transition between the writers of the romantic period and the very different
literature of the 20th century.
The 19th century saw the novel become the leading form of literature in
English. The works by pre-Victorian writers such as Jane Austen and Walter
Scott had perfected both closely-observed social satire and adventure
stories. Popular works opened a market for the novel amongst a reading
public. The 19th century is often regarded as a high point in British literature
as well as in other countries such as France, the United States and Russia.

Books, and novels in particular, became ubiquitous, and the "Victorian

novelist" created legacy works with continuing appeal.
Significant Victorian novelists and poets include: Matthew Arnold, the Bront
sisters (Emily, Anne and Charlotte Bront), Christina Rossetti, Robert
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Joseph Conrad, Edward Bulwer-Lytton,
Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, Benjamin Disraeli, George Eliot, George
Meredith, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Gissing, Richard Jefferies, Thomas Hardy,
A. E. Housman, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Bram Stoker,
Algernon Charles Swinburne, Philip Meadows Taylor, Alfred Lord Tennyson,
William Thackeray, Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll and H. G. Wells (although many
people consider his writing to be more of the Edwardian age).


The First Reform Bill

Victoria becomes queen
Tennyson succeeds Wordsworth as Poet Laureate
The Great Exhibition in London
Charles Darwins Origin of Species published
Franco-Prussian War
Death of Victoria

Shift from life based on ownership of land to a modern urban economy
based on trade and manufacturing.
London population exploded from 2 million in 1837 to 6 million in
Host of social and economic problems.
Also an enormous increase in wealth.
Reaction of Victorian Writers
Celebration of progress
Celebration of superiority of the English people.
the greatest and most highly civilized people that ever the world
Leadership in commerce and industry being paid for at a terrible price
in human happiness.

So-called progress gained by abandoning traditional rhythms of life and

traditional patterns of human relationships.
Anxious: something lost, displaced, alien world.

Matthew Arnold:
For what wears out the life of mortal men?
Tis that from change to change their being rolls
Tis that repeated shocks, again, again,
Exhaust the energy of strongest souls.

Early Period (1830-48): A Time of Troubles

1. 1830 Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened, the first steampowered, public railway line in the world.
2. Burst of railway construction followed:
3. By 1850, 6,621 miles of RR connected major cities
4. By 1900, England had 15,195 miles of track and an underground RR
system in London
5. Train transformed Englands landscape.
6. Manufacturing interests refused to tolerate exclusion from political
process, led working men in agitating for reform.
7. 1832 First Reform Bill extended the right to vote to all males owning
property worth 10 or more.
8. 1836 Second Reform Bill extended franchise to working class men.
9. Crash in 1837, followed by bad harvests, period of unemployment,
desperate poverty, rioting.
Conditions in new industrial and coal-mining areas were terrible.
Workers and families in slums horribly crowded, unsanitary
Women and children toiled in mines and factories - unimaginably
brutal conditions.
Seemingly hopeless through 1840s.
Mid-Victorian Period (1848-70)
1. Economic Prosperity
2. Growth of Empire
3. Religious Controversy
4. Time of prosperity.
5. Monarchy proving its worth in a modern setting.
6. Queen and Prince Albert models of middle-class domesticity and
devotion to duty.
7. Aristocracy discovering Free Trade enriching and agriculture flourished
together with trade and industry.
8. Factory Acts restricted child labor and limited hours of employment.

1. 1851 Prince Albert opened the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park.

2. Enormous expansion/influence throughout the globe.
3. Annual export of goods nearly trebled in value between 1850 and
4. 1876 Queen Victoria named empress of India
5. QV claims: imperial mission to protect the poor natives and advance
6. Missionary societies flourished, spreading Christianity in India, Asia,
7. Increasing debate about religious beliefs
8. Science impact of scientific discoveries seemed consistently
damaging to established faiths scientific reading of Bible as mere
text of history
9. Geology extended history of earth backward millions of years
reduced the stature of the human species in time.
Astrology extended knowledge of stellar distances to dizzying
expanses proved disconcerting
Biology reduced humankind even further into nothingness.
Darwin The Origin of Species (1859) theory of natural selection
conflicted with concept of creation and long-established assumptions
of the values attached to humanitys special role in the world.
Darwin The Descent of Man (1871) raised more explicitly the
haunting question of our identification with the animal kingdom.
Mid-Victorian Period writers reactions
1. Some Victorian writers, such as Dickens, continue to make critical
attack on the shortcomings of the Victorian social scene.
2. John Ruskin denounces evils of Victorian industrypredicts doom of
technological culture.
3. Anthony Trollope realistic novels
Late Period (1870-1901): Decay of Victorian Values
For many, a time of serenity & security, the age of house parties and long
weekends in the country, exhilarating sense of Londons delights,
proliferation of commodities, inventions, products apex of imperialism
But cost of the empire became increasingly apparent . . .
1. Rebellions, massacres, bundled wars
2. Indian mutiny 1865
3. Massacre of General Gordon and troops in Khartoum in 1885
4. Boer War long bloody, unpopular struggle in south of Africa
5. Irish Question
6. Emergence of Bismarck's Germany confronted England with powerful
threats to naval and military position.
7. Recovery of United States after Civil War provided new and serious

8. Expansion of U.S. and Canada produced grain-rich prairies threat to

English farmer.
Literature of the Period
1. Overall change of attitudes
2. Attacked major mid-Victorian idols
3. Satirized family life, particularly the self-righteousness of Victorian
4. No answers to our problems enjoy fleeting moments of beauty
5. Nineties
6. Studied languor, weary sophistication, search for new ways of titillating
jaded palates.
From Dickens to Wilde
1. In Dickens David Copperfield (1830): Hero affirms, I have always
been thoroughly in earnest.
2. Wildes The Importance of Being Ernest turns this typical mid-Victorian
word earnest into a pun, a key joke in his comic spectacle of
Victorian values being turned upside down.
The Role of Women
1. Reforms of the period did not extend to women.
2. Could not vote.
3. Could not hold political office
4. Married women could not own or handle their own property.
5. Men could divorce their wives for adultery, but wives could divorce
their husbands only if adultery were combined with cruelty, bigamy,
incest, or bestiality.
6. Educational and employment opportunities limited.
Literacy, Publication, and Reading
1. Literacy increased significantly compulsory national education.
2. Explosion of things to read
3. Technological changes in printingpressed powered by steam, paper
made from wood pulp, typesetting machines. The number of
newspapers, periodicals, and books increased dramatically.
Growth of Popular Press
1. Growth of periodical
2. 170 new periodicals in London alone
3. Magazines for every taste
4. Novels and long works of nonfiction prose were published in serial
5. The age of the essay

6. Readers shared the expectation that literature would not only delight
but instruct, that it would be continuous with the lived world, and that
it would illuminate social problems.

Interesses relacionados