Victorian Age in English Literature

● What is Victorian Age in EnglishLiterature:

The Victorian age, between 1832 to 1901 commonly included under the name of the Victorian age in English literature. The Victorian literature is the literature period produced under the reign of Queen Victoria. In this period the accepted forms of literature, art and music had undergone a radical change.

Though the literature in this period accepted few features of Romantic period; yet some dissimilar features were to be found to determine the significant impact of modernism in literature of the Victorian age. 

● What are the characteristics of Victorian Age in EnglishLiterature:

    Poetry of the Victorian age: 

The poetry of the Victorian age is to a great extent, a continuation of Romanticism. The chief characteristics of Romanticism such as the love of marvellous or the mysterious, egocentricity, element of melancholy, love of nature are all to be found in the Victorian poetry.

The dominant poet of the Victorian age was Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Although romantic in subject matter, his poetry was charged with personal melancholy; the mixture of social and religious confusion in it. Tennyson’s In Memoriam is a great autobiographical poem. It is a very long series of meditations upon the death of Arthur Henry Hallam, Tennyson’s college friend.

Another great poet of the Victorian age was Matthew Arnold. Arnold’s poems are an expression of his sense of frustration and loneliness. Tennyson’s The Lotus Eaters, The Lady of Shalott are charged with melancholy feeling.

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The poetry of Robert Browning was immensely popular in this age. Robert Browning made the form of dramatic monologues very popular through his use of dramatic monologues in his poems The Last Ride Together, The Prophyria’s Lover. Dramatic monologue is a literary form in which the speaker speaks out innermost thought and passion of his mind to silent listener whose presence may be indicated through vague gesture and posture.

The Victorian poetry differs greatly from the Romantic poetry in its stress on realism, social consciousness and religious fervour. The poems of Tennyson and Arnold reflect the socio-political tendencies of the Victorian age, the conflict between doubt and faith in religion. Tennyson’s In Memoriam and Arnold’s Dover Beach draw a vivid picture of the terrible confusion in Victorian society. 

   Pre Raphaelites:

In middle of the 19th century (1848 – 1860) a group of English artists including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Hofmann Hunt, John Millais organised the “Pre-Raphaelites Brotherhood”. This brotherhood gave themselves this name because they took for their model of the Italian painter Raphael in whom they found the simplicity, sincerity, religiosity and humble adherence to truth, which were alien to the sophisticated art of Raphael and his successors.

But as Rossetti and many of his followers were gifted writers, their work gave rise to a poetic movement. This poetic movement sought to free poetry from the shackles of social consciousness and strove to return it to the simplicity and mysticism of the Middle Ages. Among the notable writers whose poetry was influenced by this movement are D. G. Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, William Morris and Algernon Swinburne. 

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  Novels of the Victorian age:

The Victorian age was the great age of the English novel charged with realistic, thickly plotted, crowded with characters and longer in length. Charles Dickens was probably the most widely read novelist in the Victorian age.

Though his works embody no systematic social or political theory; but he took himself very seriously as a social reformer. His novels aroused public interest in many of the evils of his day – like the boarding school in Nicholas Nickleby, Hard Times, the workhouses in Oliver Twist, the Court of Chancery in Bleak House. To it can largely be attributed the poetic justice of the conclusions of many of his novels. The Rise of Non-fiction, Intellectual Development:

There was quite a revolution in scientific thought following upon the works of Darwin and his school, and an immense outburst of social and political theorizing which was represented by the writings of Herbert Spencer, John Stuart Mill. In addition, popular education became a practical thing. This in its turn produced a new hunger for intellectual food in public interest. 

 Theater in Victorian Age:

Theater became an extremely popular form of entertainment for all classes during the Victorian age. Queen Victoria even patronized this form literary development. Oscar Wilde was one of the leading dramatists of the late Victorian age. 

  Famous Writers of Victorian Age:

Victorian Poets:

Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Mathew Arnold, Gerard Manley Hopkins

 Victorian Essayists:

Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, Matthew Arnold, Walter Pater

Victorian Novelists:

Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, George Meredith, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Butler

Victorian Woman Novelists:

Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot

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