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The Victorian Era 1832-1901. Learning Objectives. To identify the major authors and literary contributors of the Victorian period. To recognize the major literary characteristics of the period. To understand how the politics of a time period can influence its literature.

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learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • To identify the major authors and literary contributors of the Victorian period.
  • To recognize the major literary characteristics of the period.
  • To understand how the politics of a time period can influence its literature.
  • To identify major vocabulary needed to analyze the literature of the period.
only one queen victoria
Only One Queen… Victoria
  • 63 year reign (longest British reign and longest ever female reign)
  • Thank her for…
    • Christmas Trees
    • Brides in White
    • Valentine’s Day Greeting Cards
  • Model wife, mother, and queen
  • Weird Stuff: The Kensington System
  • Married her cousin Albert (she asked him)
early victorian era 1832 1848 a time of troubles
Early Victorian Era: 1832-1848A Time of Troubles
  • 1830 – Reform Parliament, Opening of first public railroad – Liverpool and Manchester Railway
  • 1832 – The First Reform Bill – Right to vote to landowners worth £10 or more
  • 1837 – Victoria becomes Queen of England
early victorian era 1832 1848 a time of troubles5
Early Victorian Era: 1832-1848A Time of Troubles

1840s – Depression, widespread unemployment, bad environmental conditions caused by manufacturing and mining. Rioting.

1842 – The Mine Act prevents women and children from working in mines.

1844 – Factory Acts – Limits workers under age 18 to only 12 hours of work per day

early victorian era 1832 1848 a time of troubles6
Early Victorian Era: 1832-1848A Time of Troubles
  • 1845 – English crop failures / potato blight begins in Ireland
  • 1846 – Corn Laws Repealed (takes away high tariffs on imported food)
  • 1848 – Cholera Epidemic
mid victorian era 1848 1870 prosperity religious controversy
Mid-Victorian Era: 1848-1870Prosperity & Religious Controversy
  • 1850 – Roman Catholic hierarchy restored in England
  • 1850s – Debates between the Utilitarians w/ Jeremy Bentham and Conservatives w/ Samuel Taylor Coleridge argue the necessity of religion in the modern world. Heyday of Dickens.
mid victorian era 1848 1870 prosperity religious controversy8
Mid-Victorian Era: 1848-1870Prosperity & Religious Controversy
  • 1851 – The Great Exhibition and the Crystal Palace (1st World’s Fair)
  • 1854 – Crimean War
  • 1857 – Indian comes under British rule
  • 1859 – Darwin publishes Origin of the Species
mid victorian era 1848 1870 prosperity religious controversy9
Mid-Victorian Era: 1848-1870Prosperity & Religious Controversy
  • 1861 – Death of Prince Albert – Victoria refuses to go out in public for many years, wears black ever after.
  • 1867 – The Second Reform Bill gives working class men the right to vote, strengthening the Labor Party.
late victorian era 1870 1901 decay of values the gay nineties
Late Victorian Era: 1870-1901Decay of Values & the Gay Nineties

Late 1800s – Bismarck’s Germany confronts England w/ powerful threats to navy and industry

  • 1870 – Elementary Education Act – basic education became free for children under 10
  • 1871 – Darwin publishes The Descent of Man
  • 1873 – massive emigration due to economic depression
late victorian era 1870 1901 decay of values the gay nineties11
Late Victorian Era: 1870-1901Decay of Values & the Gay Nineties
  • 1874 – Geologists extend the history of the earth back millions of years, contradicting the human timeline provided by the Bible.
  • 1875 – England buys shares in the Suez Canal in Egypt
  • 1880s – The “Irish Question” – Home Rule for Ireland
late victorian era 1870 1901 decay of values the gay nineties12
Late Victorian Era: 1870-1901Decay of Values & the Gay Nineties
  • 1882 – Electric Lighting introduced to London streets
  • 1888 – Jack the Ripper terrorizes London
  • 1890s – The “Gay Nineties” describe the open affairs/partying of Prince Edward, Victoria’s son.
  • 1901 – Queen Victoria dies
morality and home
Morality and Home
  • Decorum & Authority – Victorians saw themselves progressing morally & intellectually
  • Powerful middle-class obsessed with “gentility, decorum” = prudery/Victorianism
  • Censorship of writers: no mention of “sex, birth, or death”
morality and home14
Morality and Home
  • Decorum – powerful ideas about authority
    • Victorian private lives – autocratic father figure
    • Women – subject to male authority
    • Middle-class women expected to marry & make home a “refuge” for husband
    • Women had few occupations open to them
    • Unmarried women often portrayed comically by male writers
empire and imperialism
Empire and Imperialism
  • England reaches highest point of development as world power
  • Colonies by 1890 cover ¼ of earth’s surface
  • England the world foremost imperial power
  • Celebration of superior qualities of English people
  • “The sun never sets on the British Empire”
religious outlooks
Religious Outlooks
  • Utilitarians – test all institutions in light of human reason to determine whether they were useful – believed religious belief was outmoded superstition. Headed by Jeremy Bentham/John Stuart Mill (typical of the Enlightenment)
  • Conservatives – If “reason” seemed to demonstrate the irrelevance of religion, then reason must be an inadequate mode of arriving at the truth. Headed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (typical Romantic).
  • Evangelicals – branch of Church of England responsible for emancipation of all slaves in British Empire (as early as 1833). Advocates of strict puritan code of morality.
    • Sobriety, hard work, joyless abstention from worldly pleasures, respectability (Typically Victorian)
characteristics of the literature
Characteristics of the Literature
  • Attention to Expanding Empire/Imperialism
  • Taking up “The White Man’s Burden”
  • Christian Missionary concerns in colonized countries.
  • Attention psychology
  • Serialized novels
  • Detective Fiction
  • Science Fiction
  • Children’s Books/Fiction
  • Attention to Social Problems
    • Industrial Revolution
    • Theory of Evolution
    • Women’s Rights
    • Child Labor
common themes
Common Themes
  • The growth of the English democracy.
  • The education of the masses.
  • The rise of the feminist movements.
  • Growing class tensions, as well as the troubles of the newly industrialized worker.
  • The progress of industrial enterprise and the consequent rise of a materialistic philosophy.
  • Pressures towards political and social reform.
  • Questioning of Faith and Truth (due to scientific discoveries like the theory of evolution by Darwin).
what s going on in america
What’s going on in America?
  • Transcendentalism: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott
  • Romanticism: NathanielHawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, James Fennimore Cooper, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman
  • Realism/Local Color: KateChopin, Charlotte Gilman, Hart Crane, Mark Twain, Henry James
  • Naturalism: AmbroseBierce, Jack London, Stephen Crane
terms to know
Terms to Know
  • Realism: attempts to describe human behavior and surroundings or to represent figures and objects exactly as they act or appear in life.
    • Examples: George Eliot (Middlemarch) and Thomas Hardy (Tess of the d’Urbervilles)
terms to know21
Terms to Know
  • Pre-Raphaelite: a group of 19th-century English painters, poets, and critics who reacted against Victorian materialism and the neoclassical conventions of academic art by producing earnest, quasi-religious works.
    • Example: “The Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti
    • Artwork of her brother, Gabriel Rossetti
terms to know22
Terms to Know
  • Social Satire:Satire is literature that uses humor or sarcasm to ridicule human vices or follies. Dickens was interested in social reform, and passages of the novel often reflect his feelings toward people and institutions in nineteenth-century English society.
    • Ex. Vanity Fair - Thackery
terms to know23
Terms to Know
  • Dickensian: the grotesque—a type of literature in which characters’ outstanding physical or personality traits are exaggerated for comic or dramatic effect. This style has come to be known as Dickensian, and this term is today used to refer to any work that has characteristics of Dickens’s writing.
terms to know24
Terms to Know
  • Dramatic Monologue – poetry that presents a speaker who unwittingly provides psychological insight through his words to the audience.
  • Ex. “My Last Duchess” or “Porphyria’s Lover”
  • by Robert Browning