Victorian Period of British Literature- 1832-1900

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Content:

  • conflict between those in power and the common masses of laborers and the poor
  • shocking life of sweatshops and urban poor is highlighted in literature to insist on reform
  • country versus city life
  • sexual discretion (or lack of it)
  • strained coincidences
  • romantic triangles
  • heroines in physical danger
  • aristocratic villains
  • misdirected letters
  • bigamous marriages

Genres/Styles:

  • novel becomes popular for first time; mass produced for the first time
    • bildungsroman: “coming of age”
    • political novels
    • detective novels: (Sherlock Holmes)
    • serialized novels
  • elegies
  • poetry: easier to understand
    • dramatic monologues
  • drama: comedies of manners
    • magazines offer stories to the masses

Effect:

  • literature begins to reach the masses

Historical Context:

  • paper becomes cheap; magazines and novels cheap to mass produce
  • unprecedented growth of industry and business in Britain
  • unparalleled dominance of nations, economies and trade abroad

Key Literature/Authors:

  • Charles Dickens
  • Thomas Hardy
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Robert Louis Stevenson
  • George Eliot
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Alfred Lord Tennyson
  • Darwin
  • Charlotte Bronte
  • Robert Browning

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