The Victorian EraAn Overview of the ―Periods‖Born 1819Victoria reigned from 1839-1901
A Time of Change• London becomes themost important city inEurope• Population of Londonexpands from twomillion to six million• Shift from ownershipof land to modernurban economy• Impact of industrialism• Increase in wealth• World’s foremostimperial power• Victorian peoplesuffered from anxiety,a sense of beingdisplaced persons in anage of technologicaladvances.
Queen Victoria and the Victorian Temper• Ruled England from 1837-1901• Exemplifies Victorianqualities: earnestness,moral responsibility,domestic propriety• The Victorian Period wasan age of transition• An age characterized byenergy and high moralpurpose
The Georgian Period• 1911-1936• A reaction against theachievements of theVictorian Period
The Early Victorian Period1830-1848 (Time of Troubles)Dramatic change:–Railroads• In 1830, the Liverpool andManchester Railway opened,the first public railway line inthe world.• By 1850, railway linesconnected England’s majorcities• By 1900, England had 15,195lines of railroad and anunderground rail systembeneath London.• The train transformedEngland’s landscape, supportedthe growth of commerce, andshrank the distance betweencities.
Early Period 1830-1848 Cont’• Reform Parliament– Reform Bill of 1832– Transformed English classstructure– Extended the right to voteto all males owningproperty– Second Reform Bill passedin 1867– Extended right to vote toworking class
The Time of Troubles1830’s and 1840’s• Unemployment• Poverty• Rioting• Slums in large cities• Working conditions for women and children were terrible
The Time of Troubles1830’s and 1840’sEconomic distress:Even with the reform attempts, Englands economictroubles could not be entirely solved.By the end of this ―Time of Troubles‖The ChartistsA large organization of workersDrew up a ―People’s Charter‖ in 1838Advocated:• Further extension of the right to vote• Secret-ballot• Legislative reformFinally succeeded in introducing important economicreforms:• the repeal of the Corn Laws• Introduction of a system of Free Trade.
Impact on Victorian Literature• The novelists of the1840’s and the 1850’sresponded to theindustrial and politicalscene:– Charles Kingsley- TheWater Babies– Elizabeth Gaskell – Northand South; Life of CharlotteBronte– Benjamin Disraeli- Sybil
The Mid-Victorian Period1848-1870 (The Age of Improvement)• A time of prosperity:– general social satisfaction– further growth of the empire– Improving trade and economic conditions.– the Great Exhibition of Hyde Park, & other events:– celebrated with renewed vigor• industry• Technology• Science• A time of improvement• A time of stability• A time of optimismThe Great Exhibition of HydePark 1851
The Crystal Palace• Erected to display theexhibits of modernindustry and science atthe 1851 GreatExhibition• One of the firstbuildings constructedaccording to modernarchitectural principles• The building symbolizedthe triumphs ofVictorian industry
Religious Debate• Evangelicalmovementemphasizedspiritualtransformation ofthe individual byconversion and avirtuous Christianlife. Their view oflife was identicalwith Dissenters.• The High Churchemphasized theimportance oftradition, ritual,and authority• The Broad Churchwas open tomodern ideas
Rationalist challenges to religion:• Utilitarianism– Derived from the ideas of JeremyBentham and his disciple JamesMill, the father of John Stuart Mill– Rationalist test of value– The greatest good for the greatestnumber– Utilitarianism failed to recognizepeople’s spiritual needs
– Theory of NaturalSelection– Survival of the Fittest– Vision of a microscopicworld» Destruction/Competition part of life cycle– Independent, uniqueindividual species thatare nevertheless highlyinterdependentHow do Darwin’s theorieschallenge religionassumptions of divinecreation? Notice alsowhere he acknowledges a―Creator.‖
Further challenges to religiousbelief:– Science• Thomas Henry Huxley (oneof first adherents toDarwin’s theory ofevolution)– "Higher Criticism"• Examination of the Bible as amere text of history• Source studies• Geology• Astronomy
Matthew Arnold’s ―Dover Beach‖1867Mysticism/Metaphysics/Narratives of theSpiritual World vs Empiricism and ScientificEvidence• Begins with the challenges issued byGalileo on through Newton in the18th century to Darwin in the 19thcentury and continues withadvances in biology and geology intoday’s contemporary world.• Notion of Time expanded. Back to atime before a universe. Man nolonger center.
The British Empire• Many Between 1853and 1880, large scaleimmigration toBritish colonies• In 1857, Parliamenttook over thegovernment of Indiaand Queen Victoriabecame empress ofIndia.• Many British peoplesaw the expansion ofempire as a moralresponsibility.• Missionaries spreadChristianity in India,Asia, and Africa.
The Role of Women Cont’• The Woman Question• Changing conditions ofwomen’s work created by theIndustrial Revolution• The Factory Acts (1802-78) –regulations of the conditions oflabor in mines and factories• The Custody Act (1839) – gavea mother the right to petitionthe court for access to herminor children and custody ofchildren under seven and latersixteen.• The Divorce and MatrimonialCauses Act – established a civildivorce court• Married Women’s Property Act(1882)
Educational Opportunities for Women• First women’scollege-Queen’sCollege-establishedin 1848 in London.• By the end ofVictoria’s reign,women could takedegrees at twelveuniversity colleges.
Victorian Women and the Home• Victorian society waspreoccupied with thevery nature of women.• Protected andenshrined within thehome, her role was tocreate a place of peacewhere man could takerefuge from thedifficulties of modernlife.
Working Conditions for WomenBad working conditions and underemployment drovethousands of women into prostitution.The only occupation at which anunmarried middle-class womancould earn a living and maintainsome claim to gentility was thatof a governess.
Professions beyond marriage open towomen– Upper/Middle Upper class:goal marriage– If not married—a spinster(at the young age of 20something!)– Could become governess,teachers at grammarschool level only, nurses—all feminized and poorlycompensated jobs– No access to universityeducation– Discouraged from publiclife and speaking (dogs,idiots, freaks)
Separate Spheres: Private/Public• Three Central Ideologiesshaped perception of BritishVictorian Women– 1. Women as AestheticObjects:• Beautiful objects; sourceof poetic inspiration formen• Romantic love—objectsof male desire• Dead, dying, consumptivewomen especiallyprevalent in 19th visualart. i.e. Pre-Raphaelitepainters
Three Central Ideologies Shaping Perception ofWomen cont’• 2. Woman asMother/Madonna: Womenconceived as pure, selflessangels of domesticity. Thisperspective of women wasinfluenced by ChristianCelibacy/theology/theMadonna• Idle status symbols forhusbands• Trophies signifyingmasculineaccomplishment/status• To be desired but notdesiring• Selfless guardians ofdomesticity (Patmore’s―angel in the house‖—meek, selfless, ―it isshe that enobles man‖;
John Ruskin’s ―Of Queen’s Gardens”– Man is active & progressive;he is doer, creator, responsiblefor invention– Women’s power is ―for rule,not for battle‖; her intellect isto be used for domesticordering & arranging– Women’s function is to praise– She is to be protected fromdanger & temptation (she ismore vulnerable to both– Woman is guardian of thehome; the true place of―peace‖ which must bemaintained for the man– Home is man’s castle; sacredplace; woman is queen of thecastle; she is to be wise notfor herself but for her husband– Her role is to be a supremewife, mother, and householdorganizer
Three Central Ideologies Shaping Perception ofWomen cont’3). Woman asTemptress/Whore: The flipside of the previous two:(the first being idealizedaesthetic object; thesecond angel in thehouse/Madonna)– Belief that women areinherently vulnerable totemptation– The can themselves betemptresses– Man must be aware ofwoman as temptress—(will see a fixation on thisimage in Pre-Raphaelitepoems and images nextweek)– Beautiful Whore
Keats’ “La Belles Sans Merci”-Pre-Raphaelite rendition by Frank Dicksee
What were the psychological effects of theseideas on women?– Middle/uppermiddle classwomen – boredom– Isolation andloneliness– Illnesses: 19thcentury famous forits cases of ―femalehysteria‖ andneurasthenia.• Illness as escapefrom oppressivedomestic roles?• Or representativeof the physical,psychological, andemotional costs ofself-denial,oppression, anddomesticrestrictions
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood• Formed 1848• Founder: Dante GabrielRosetti (1828-1882)• Others: WilliamHolman Hunt; JohnEverett Millais; sculptorThomas Woolner;William Rosetti (Dante’sbrother)
Pre-Raphaelites Cont’Identified the Italian painterRaphael (1483-1520) withscientific interests of theRenaissance—which they feltled to ―modern‖technological advancements.The PRE-Raphaelites thenaimed for simpler timeBEFORE Raphael. Reacting tosterility of 19th c. English artand materialism, whichfollowed the IndustrialRevolution.
Pre-Raphaelites aimed to:• Study nature• Emphasize the immediate• the serious; the heartfelt• Infuse art with literarysymbolism, bright colors,and attention to detail.• Subject Matter:– pseudo medieval;ethereal female– beauties; fantasy/fairy;literary figures from– Shakespeare, Tennyson,Patmore, Keats
Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott”William Holman Hunt
Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott”John Waterhouse
Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott”William Holman Hunt
Christina Rosetti’s ―Goblin Market‖ (1830-1894)
Literacy, Publication, and Reading• By the end of the century, literacywas almost universal.• Compulsory national educationrequired to the age of ten.• Due to technological advances, anexplosion of things to read,including newspapers, periodicals,and books.• Growth of the periodical• Novels and short fiction werepublished in serial form.• The reading public expectedliterature to illuminate socialproblems.
The Victorian Novel• The novel was the dominant form inVictorian literature.• Victorian novels seek to represent a largeand comprehensive social world, with avariety of classes.• Victorian novels are realistic.• Major theme is the place of the individualin society, the aspiration of the hero orheroine for love or social position.• The protagonist’s search for fulfillment isemblematic of the human condition.• For the first time, women were majorwriters: the Brontes. Elizabeth Gaskell,George Eliot.• The Victorian novel was a principal formof entertainment.
Victorian Poetry• Victorian poetry developed in thecontext of the novel. Poets soughtnew ways of telling stories in verse• All of the Victorian poets show thestrong influence of the Romantics,but they cannot sustain theconfidence the Romantics felt inthe power of the imagination.• Victorian poets often rewriteRomantic poems with a sense ofbelatedness.• Dramatic monologue – the idea ofcreating a lyric poem in the voiceof a speaker ironically distinct fromthe poet is the great achievementof Victorian poetry.• Victorian poetry is pictorial; poetsuse detail to construct visualimages that represent the emotionor situation the poem concerns.• Conflict between private poeticself and public social role.
Victorian Drama• The theater was a flourishingand popular institution duringthe Victorian period.• The popularity of theaterinfluenced other genres.• Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wildetransformed British theater withtheir comic masterpieces.
The Late Victorian Period1870-1901• Decay of Victorian values• British imperialism• Boer War• Irish question• Bismarcks Germanybecame a rival power• United States became arival power• Economic depression ledto mass immigration• Socialism
The 1890’s The Fin de Siecle• Breakdown of Victorianvalues• Mood of melancholy• Aesthetic movement• The beginning of themodern movement inliterature• Aubrey Beardsley’sdrawings• Prose of George Moore andMax Beerbohm• Poetry of Ernest Dowson
The Late Period (1871-1901)“Dying Victorianism” in literature: Melancholy spirit in thewriting of the end of the century (fin de siecle).Oscar Wildes making a pun of "earnest,” a typical and sincerelyused mid-Victorian word that gestured towards a dying senseVictorianism.1901 Death of Queen Victoria and succession of Edward VII1901-1914 would be referred to as the Edwardian Era