Studiu de specialitate – Society and the Individual in the Victorian Novel


Autor: prof. Nica Mihaela
Colegiul Agricol ”D. Cantemir” Huși, Vaslui

Victorian literature is the literature produced during the reign of Queen Victoria (1830-1901) (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. Along with romance novels, there were many horror novels written as well. The Victorian Period of English history (1837-1901) witnessed a set of complex political, social, scientific, and philosophical developments. These developments were intricately tied to and represented by the culture’s various forms of literary production-most notably the Victorian novel.
The Victorian Age was characterised by rapid change and developments in nearly every sphere-from advances in medical, scientific and technological knowledge to changes in population growth and location. Over time, this rapid transformation deeply affected the country’s mood:an age that began with a confidence and optimism leading to economic boom and prosperity eventually gave way to uncertainty and doubt regarding Britain’s place in the world. The 19th century saw the novelbecome the leading form of literature in English.
Literature produced during Victorian`s period reflects the „spirit of the times”. Expansion of newspapers and periodicals led to ongoing debates about current political and social issues.
Much of Victorian literature has a positive, eager or earnest response to the innovations of life in the 19th century. I found that Victorian literature (especially novels) offered a realistic, day-to-day portrayal of social life and represented these issues in the stories of the characters.
Victorian society was preoccupied with the very nature of women. I studied women writers (Charlotte Brontë, Anne Brontë, Emily Brontë) of this period and I found out many interesting things about them.
During the Victorian period, women writers were measured against a social rather than a literary ideal. Hence, it was widely thought that novels by women should be modest, religious, sensitive, guileless and chaste, like their authors. Many Victorian women writers took exception to this belief, however, resisting the imposition of nonliterary restrictions on their work. Publishers soon discovered that the gentlest and most iddylike female novelists were tough-minded and relentless when their professional integrity was at stake. Keenly aware of their artistic responsibilities, these women writers would not make concessions to secure commercial success.
Protected and enshrined within the home, the woman`s role was to create a place of peace where man could take refuge from the difficulties of modern life. Suddenly, the once-silent female segment of society raised their voices.
In literature, the early Victorian age can be said to be the age of critical realism. The critical realism of the 19th century flourished in the forties and in the early fifties. (fragment)