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Isnaini Ainun Rinayati
The Victorian Age
• “The Victorian” era of British history was the period of Queen
Victoria’s reign from 1837 until her death in 1901. It was a long
period of peace, prosperity, refined culture, great advancements in
technology, and national self-confidence for Britain.
• During theVictorian age, Britain was the worlds most powerful
nation. By the end of Victorias reign, the British empire extended
over about one-fifth of the earths surface. Like Elizabethan
England, Victorian England saw great expansion of wealth, power,
and culture. But as Victorian England was a time of great ambition
and grandeur, it was also a time of misery, squalor, and urban
The Growth of the British Empire
• England grew to become the greatest nation on earth
• Empire included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong,
Singapore, South Africa, Kenya, and India
• England built a very large navy and merchant fleet (for trade
The Growth of the British Empire (continued)
• Imported raw materials such as cotton and silk and
exported finished goods to countries around the world
• By the mid-1800s, England was the largest exporter
and importer of goods in the world. It was the
primary manufacturer of goods and the wealthiest
country in the world
• Because of England’s success, they felt it was their
duty to bring English values, laws, customs, and
religion to the “savage” races around the world
The Industrial Revolution
• It started at the end of the eigh teenth century, when theoretical
knowledge and practical technology were connected. Scientific
ideas were applied to the making of machines that transformed
the way things were made and dramatically changed people’s
lifestyles. A formerly agricultural nation was now based on urban
and industrial growth. Butas industry grew, it was accompanied
by a rapid increase in the numbers of the urban working-classpoor.
Workers in the cities lived in miserableconditions.
Urban squalor and misery were signs ofa massive change in the
• The Age of Steam
• Mass Production
• The Impact of the Industrial Revolutions :
• I. The Emergence of Over crowded Cities One result of the
advance of technology was the unprecedented growth of cities.
People, in search of work left the country side to work in
factories in the different cities of Britain. They had to live in
very dirty and unhealthy conditions. There were too many
workers and not enough houses. People were living like
animals. Diseases raged, hunger, poverty, and deprivation
prevailed, crime accelerated, and misery increased.
• II. Child Labor Children were expected to help to support their
families. They often worked long hours in dangerous jobs and
in difficult situations for verylittle wages. For example, there
were the climbing boys employed by the chimney sweeps, the
little children who could scramble under the moving
machinery to retrieve the cotton fluff; boys and girls working
down the coal mines, crawling through tunnels too narrow and
low to take anadult.
a. John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)-philosopher who created
• Utilitarianism: the object of moral action was to bring
about the greatest good for the greatest amount of people
• Liberalism: governments had the right to restrict the actions
of individuals only when those actions harmed others, and
that society should use its collective resources to provide for
the basic welfare of others. Also encouraged equal rights
b. Charles Lyell (1797-1875):
Showed that geological features on Earth had developed
continuously and slowly over immense periods of time
c. Charles Darwin (1809-1882): Introduced the survival of
the fittest theory
• d. John ruskin
• The most Romantic prose of the Victorian (1819-1900)
• Ruskin’s greatness is as striking as his singularity, an
instance of the effect of Evangelicalism and Romanticism
on an only child.
• e. John Henry Newman
• The master of Victorian Non-Fictional prose (1801-90)
• f. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903): Applied Darwinism to
human society: as in nature, survival properly belongs to
the fittest, those most able to survive. Social Darwinism
was used by many Victorians to justify social inequalities
based on race, social or economic class, or gender
• g. Adam Smith - 18th century economist, held that the
best government economic policy was to leave the market
alone—to follow a laissez faire or “let it be” policy of
little or no gov’t intervention
The Role of Women
• TheWoman Question
• Changing conditions of women’s
work created by the Industrial
• The Factory Acts (1802-78) –
regulations of the conditions of
labor in mines and factories
• The Custody Act (1839) – gave
a mother the right to petition the
court for access to her minor
children and custody of children
under seven and later sixteen.
• The Divorce and Matrimonial
Causes Act – established a civil
• Married Women’s Property Acts
Working Conditions for Women
• Bad working conditions
drove thousands of
women into prostitution.
• The only occupation at
which an unmarried
could earn a living and
maintain some claim to
gentility was that of a
Gender and Sexuality
• The NewWoman of the 1880s and 1890s
– Smoking, swearing, riding a bike, debating in public, wearing
men’s clothing, refusing marriage
– A figure of greater sexual, social, and economic independence
• 1890s: women experience greater access to education,
employment, political and legal rights, and civic visibility.
1880s the term “homosexual” enters the English language
– Until this time, no real conception of homosexuality as an
– Homosexual acts between men were illegal and punishable by
death until 1861; Labouchere Amendment of 1885 mandates
imprisonment for any man found guilty of a sexual act with
The term “lesbian” emerges in the 1890s, but do not suffer the
same persecution as gay men
– Rationale: women unmotivated by sexual desire, intense,
passionate “friendships” seen as innocent
• End result: feminized male characters (the dandy, the aesthete,
the fop) and masculinized female characters (the New Woman)
Literacy, Publication, and Reading
• By the end of the century,
literacy was almost universal.
• Compulsory national education
required to the age of ten.
• Due to technological advances,
an explosion of things to read,
periodicals, and books.
• Growth of the periodical
• Novels and short fiction were
published in serial form.
• The reading public expected
literature to illuminate social
• Victorian Literature
• • Novels: dominant literary form; “social problem” novel,
• • Poetry: influenced by Romantic period;
• – dramatic monologue: a lyric poem in the voice of a speaker
who is not the poet
• • Drama: frivolous, romantic, witty; mocked contemporary
• • Non-fiction: essays, criticism, history, biography,newspapers,
• – “The Age of Periodicals”
• – “The Age of Reading”
• A. EARLY-VICTORIAN NOVEL (or social-problem novel)
dealing with social and humanitarian themes
• realism, criticism of social evils but faith in progress, general
• The main representative was CHARLES DICKENS.
• B. MID-VICTORIAN NOVEL (novel of purpose)
• showing Romantic and Gothic elements and a psychological
interest. The main representative writers were the BRONTË
sisters and ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
• C. LATE- VICTORIAN NOVEL (naturalistic novel near to
European Naturalism) showing a scientific look at human life,
objectivity of observation, dissatisfaction with Victorian
values. The main representative writers were THOMAS
HARDY and OSCAR WILDE.
For the first time, women were major writers: the
Brontes. ElizabethGaskell,George Eliot
Charles Dickens Charlotte Bronte
• The greatest poets of the period are Alfred Lord Tennyson
and Robert Browning.
• Other important poets are Matthew Arnold, Gerard Manley
Hopkins, Christina Rossetti, Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Thomas Hardy is considered the best poet of the late
• The theater was a flourishing and popular institution during the
• The popularity of theater influenced other genres.
• Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde transformed British theater
with their comic masterpieces.