Topic 50 – The victorian novel



1.1. Aims of the unit.

1.2. Notes on bibliography.


2.1. The Industrial Revolution.

2.1.1. Political consequences.

2.1.2. Social consequences.

2.1.3. Economic consequences.

2.1.4. Technological consequences.

2.2. The development of the British Empire.

2.2.1. Political consequences.

2.2.2. Social and economic consequences.

2.2.3. The nineteenth-century British colonies.


3.1. The main features of the Victorian literature.

3.2. The literary division of Victorian literature.

3.3. The main literary forms.

3.3.1. Drama.

3.3.2. Poetry.

3.3.3. Prose: the Victorian novel.


4.1. Early Victorian novelists.

4.1.1. The Brönte sisters.

4.1.2. Charles Dickens (1812-1870).

4.1.3. William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863).

4.1.4. Anthony Trollope (1815-1882).

4.1.5. Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881).

4.1.6. Mrs Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (1810-1865).

4.1.7. George Eliot (1819-1880).

4.1.8. Other lesser novelists.

4.2. Late Victorian novelists.

4.2.1. George Meredith (1828-1909).

4.2.2. Thomas Hardy (1840-1928).

4.2.3. Henry James (1843-1916).

4.2.4. Joseph Conrad (1857-1924).

4.2.5. Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936).

4.2.6. Other lesser novelists.





1.1. Aims of the unit.

The present unit, Unit 50, aims to provide a useful introduction to the Victorian no vel, which is to be framed beyond Queen Victoria’s reign, namely between 1837 and 1901. This period, bewildered by growing wealth and power, the pace of industrial and social change, and by scientific discovery, saw a growth in literature, especially in fiction. Yet, after the middle of the reign, confidence began to fade because of a series of conflicts, wars and colonial problems, and in thelast two decades a different atmosphere was created. As a result, literature developed various specialist forms, such as aestheticism, professional entertainment, historical novel, and a disenchanted social concern.

This is reflected in the organization of the unit, which is divided into three chapters which correspond to the main tenets of this unit: (1) a historical background of the Victorian novel in the nineteenth century, (2) the literary background of the time, that is, the Victorian literature, and finally, an analysis of (3) the Victorian novel and the works of the main Victorian novelists of the time. In general, the literature of the time was both shaped by and reflected the prevailing ideologies of the day which, following Speck (1998), means that this is an account of literary activity in which social, economic, cultural and political allegiances are placed very much to the fore.Therefore, we shall present our study in six main chapters.

Therefore, in Chapter 2 we shall provide a historical background for the Victorian novel in Great Britain, that is, the Victorian Age, namely between 1837 and 1901. In doing so, it is convenient to analyse first some events related to this period, since under Victoria, a Britain transformed by the Industrial Revolution became the world’s leading imperial power. So, we shall start by approaching the concept of (1) Industrial Revolution as a a model of historical transformation in general terms, and similarly, we shall analyse (2) the development of the British Empire (already in the second phase of imperial expansion) and its main consequences in the nineteenth-century Great Britain. These events shall influence to a great extent the literary productions under the label of the so-called Victorian literature, to be examined in next chapter.

In Chapter 3, we shall provide a literary background for the Victorian novel, which is known as the Victorian literature. So, in this section we shall analyse (1) the main features of Victorian literature; (2) the literary division of Victorian literature into three periods, early, mid and late Victorian period; (3) the main literary forms of the time, thus (a) drama, (b), poetry and (c) prose; and within this latter, we shall examine the main concerns of the most relevant Victorian

writers of the time, classified into social, political and philosophical writings. Hence, in next chapter, we shall concentrate only on the literary form of the novel, and therefore, on the main Victorian novelists.

In Chapter 4 we shall attempt to provide a general account of the Victorian novel and, therefore, the life, style and main works of the most prominent Victorian novelists. Therefore, we shall present the main (1) early Victorian novelists in the following order: (a) the Brönte sisters, (b) Dickens, (c) Thackeray, (d) Trollope, (e) Disraeli, (f) Gaskell, (g) Eliot, and (h) other lesser novelists. Similarly, the main (2) late Victorian novelists will be presented in the following order, (a) Meredith, (b) Hardy, (c) James, (d) Conrad, (e) Kipling, and (f) other lesser novelists.

Chapter 5 will be devoted to the main educational implications in language teaching regarding the introduction of this issue in the classroom setting. Chapter 6 will offer a conclusion to broadly overview our present study, and Chapter 7 will include all the bibliographical references used to develop this account of the Industrial Revolution.

1.2. Notes on bibliography.

An influential introduction to the historical background of the Victorian period and the early twentieth century, thus Imperialism, the Industrial Revolution, the American colonies and the Irish question is based on Thoorens, Panorama de las literaturas Daimon: Inglaterra y América del Norte. Gran Bretaña y Estados Unidos de América (1969); Escudero, La Revolución Industrial (1988); and Alexander, A History of English Literature (2000).

The literary background includes the works of Magnusson & Goring, Cambridge Biographical Dictionary (1990); and Sanders, The Short Oxford History of English Literature (1996); Speck, Literature and Society in Eighteenth-Century England: Ideology Politics and Culture (1998). Other general sources are taken from the Encyclopedia Encarta (1997) and The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia (2003); also, and

The background for educational implications is based on the theory of communicative competence and communicative approaches to language teaching are provided by the most complete record of current publications within the educational framework is provided by the guidelines in B.O.E. (2004) for both E.S.O. and Bachillerato; and the Council of Europe, Modern Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. A Common European Framework of reference (1998).


Chapter 2 shall provide a historical background for the Victorian novel in Great Britain, that is, the Victorian Age, namely between 1837 and 1901. Yet, we shall not follow a chronological clear-cut division of time (1800 to 1900) since we attempt to match the political, social and economic events to the literary work in the nineteenth century. As Thoorens (1969:99) claims, it is not useful to divide the history of English literature in clear-cut chronological periods because it might lead us to false paralelisms between historical and literary events. Instead, we shall focus on the development of history and literature in different periods on the basis of the most outstanding literary figures.

In doing so, it is convenient to analyse first some events related to this period, since under Victoria, a Britain transformed by the Industria l Revolution became the world’s leading imperial power. Hence we shall examine the development of the Industrial Revolution and the period of imperial expansion during the nineteenth century which had important consequences on the Victorian literary productions. Actually, our research starts with a brief analysis of both events at political, social and economic levels so as to provide a useful context for next chapter, a literary background for the Victorian novel.

So, in order to analyse these periods, we shall start by approaching the concept of (1) Industrial Revolution as a a model of historical transformation in general terms, and similarly, we shall analyse (2) the development of the British Empire (already in the second phase of imperial expansion) and its main consequences in the nineteenth-century Great Britain. These events shall influence to a great extent the literary productions under the label of the so-called Victorian literature, to be examined in next chapter.

2.1. The Industrial Revolution.

The sudden acceleration of technical and economic development that begun in Britain in the second half of the eighteenth century had changed the lives of a large proportion of the population by the nineteenth century. The concept ‘Industrial Revolution’ has its origins in France (1820) as an attempt to compare the social changes taking place in Britain with those in French society by 1760, and later on, it was coined by Arnold J. Toynbee in his Lectures on the Industrial Revolution in England in the Eighteenth Century (1884).

The Industrial Revolution is often located in the period between 1750 and 1850, which coincides to a great extent with the Augustean Age (1714-1790); with the Georgian Age or the

age of the Romantics (1790-1837), and reaching the end of the century (1901) with the Victorian Age (1837-1900). The emergence of the Industrial revolution, and therefore, its consequences on society, brought about important economic, social, technological and cultural changes which framed the two phases of development of the British imperial expansion, though we shall namely concentrate on the second one.

Generally speaking, the industrial revolution is said to have been the trigger for the imperial expansion since the new industrial economy in its earliest stages was acquired to serve a mercantile system. For a long time, the colonial market was small and unimportant, but soon, the British government desired to take the American continent and islands as a whole to serve as a market for their manufacturers and a source for products which could not be found at home. So, let us examine the effects of the industrial revolution in the nineteenth century in terms of political, social, economic and technological development within the imperial expansion.

2.1.1. Political consequences.

These economic changes brought about important consequences at all levels since they resulted in a wider distribution of wealth. Therefore, the effect of the industrial revolution was felt on both social and political conditions in various regions, namely in connections between industrialization, labor unions, and movements for political and social reform in England, Western Europe, and the United States. The political background is namely represented by the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne when her uncle, William IV dies in 1837.

Victoria would reign from 1837 to 1901 and would be the longest reigning British monarch. In general terms, during Victoria’s reign, the revolution in industrial practices continued to change British life, bringing about urbanisation, a good communications network and wealth. In addition, Britain became a champion of Free Trade across her massive Empire, and industrialisation and trade were glorified in the Great Exhibitions. Yet, by the turn of the century, Britain’s industrial advantage was being challenged successfully by other nations such as the USA across the ocean and Germany on the continent.

In 1837, the Chartist movement was founded.

In 1838 (May 1), a people’s charter was published and this constituted six demands: a demand for universal manhood suffrage (but not votes for women); secret ballot; annual parliamentary elections; equal electoral districts; the abolition of the property qualification for MPs; and the payment of MPs (to allow working-class representatives

to sit in parliament). A public campaign was mounted to back the charter and over

1,250,000 people signed up to its aspirations.

In June 1839 the charter was presented to parliament but was rejected. The Chartist Movement contin ued to agitate and expand and, although Chartist conferences continued for a further decade, the movement slipped into decline.

In 1840, Victoria married her first cousin, Albert of Saxe-Coburg Gotha and for the next twenty years they instituted several constitutional changes.

Some of these changes were made in favor of a more constitutional monarchy above party faction, which would catch the spirit of the age.

In 1846 the Corn Law Act was passed again (since it was set up in 1815 already as a measure to protect the economic interests of landowners after the Napoleonic Wars). Yet, this kept the price of not only corn but also bread artificially high. Although an Anti-Corn Law League formed to oppose the legislation, it was not until the potato famine in Ireland that repeal was enacted in a belated attempt to alleviate some of the suffering. The repeal marked an end to protectionist policies and can be seen as a major stepping stone in turning Britain into a free trading nation.

Between 1848 and 1875, Parliament passed a series of acts in an attempt to improve sanitary conditions in the thriving urban areas as a result of a growing Sanitary Reform Movement. The act of 1848 (the first of its kind) provided for a Central Board of Health with powers to supervise street cleaning, refuse collection, water supply and sewerage disposal. The later acts passed responsibility to local boards of health and extended their powers to include drainage and sanitation.

In 1850, Parliament passed another Factory Act which restricted all women and young people to no more than ten-and-a-half hours work a day. It must be borne in mind that the previous Factory Acts were passed in 1819 (limiting those aged nine and above to a twelve hour day) and in 1833 (prohibiting the employment of under nines in mills and further restricted the time).

From the 1850s, Britain was the leading industrial power in the world. Superseding the early dominance of textiles, railway, construction, iron- and steel-working soon gave new impetus to the British economy.

2.1.2. Social consequences.

The effects of the industrial revolution were also felt in the nineteenth-century Great Britain at social level, and again, in connections between industrialization, labor unions, and movements

for social reform in England, Western Europe, and the United States. Also, it is namely noticed in the pace and extent of industrialization in Great Britain and the United States in the latter half of the 19th century. Actually, up to 1837 the main political consequences on social events are closely connected to this move from the country to the towns and the division of labour in the industry market.

Regarding social consequences we can talk about a demographic revolution in this period. The growth of population was due to the improvement of food supplies, better hygiene conditions and a reduction in the mortality rate of epidemics. Population grew very quickly due to a decreased death rate and increased fertility. Actually, up to 1837 the main social events are closely connected to this move from the country to the towns and the division of labour in the industry market. Thus, the most outstanding consequences are listed as follows:

the organization of work, commonly known as the division of labour, in the industry market, brought about several changes: a specialization of work with the aim of speeding mass production; hence, workers lived in work houses, usually crowded and dirty, and had to work all day; men and women were separated which involved family separation; the regulation of child labour in factories; and the distinction of two social classes: the rich and the poor, thus the proletarians (also capitalist employers) and the workers (employees).

Hence, we find the term ‘working classes’, which is divided in turn depending on the salary the employee obtained (high-paid, regular, casual, lowest, etc). From the negotiation of workers’s salary, trade unions were established to achieve better wages and conditions of work. These unions (also called Friendly Societies) make us aware of the wide variety of organizations created by working-class peoples in England.

In 1867 we find the Second Reform Act, which attempted to redistribute parliamentary seats in a more equitable manner. Reform of the franchise was not the only social change in the Victorian era, but the increased visibility of women in society, as well as a growth in both leisure time and leisure activities (seaside holidays, football, rugby, cricket and golf).

In May 1868, thirty-four union representatives from the north and midlands of England met in Manchester for the first Trades Union Congress. At their second annual meeting a year later, also in Manchester, forty representatives attended – speaking for over a quarter of a million workers.

In 1870 the State launched the Education Act which provided for genuine mass education on a scale not seen before. Elected school boards were permitted to levy money for fees and given powers to enforce attendance of most children below the age of thirteen.

The Third Reform Act took place in 1884 and extended the 1867 concessions from the boroughs to the countryside. Another act a year later redistributed constituencies, giving more representation to urban areas, particularly in London.

In 1893, Keir Hardie founded an Independent Labour Party with the intention of gaining the election of members of the working class to parliament. The Labour Party replaced the Liberal Party as the main party of opposition to the Conservatives over the following decade.

2.1.3. Economic consequences.

Generally speaking, towns with rural industry grew and provided much work. World trade and politics became more influential in the every-day life of the villagers, and as a result, the group of proletarians grew quickly due to downwards social mobility and the fact that proletarians had more children than farmers. One reason was through new farming systems involving the rotation of turnips and clover, although these were part of the general intensification of agricultural production, with more food being produced from the same area of land. By 1850, the countryside had become very overcrowded, partially because of the rural industry that was located there. Hence Malthus developed a theory on the population growth: too much population growth would lead to disaster and misery.

On the other hand, industrialization shaped social class and labor organizations in terms of connections between industrialization and the rise of new types of labor organizations and mobilization. In fact, the nineteenth-literature reveals to a high extent the emergence and conditions of new social classes during the industrial period through relevant literary figures, such as Charles’ Dickens and his works. In particular, specific conditions for children employed by 19th-century England before and after major legislation passed in 1833, 1842, and 1847; the wide variety of organizations created by working-class peoples in England, Western Europe, and the United States in response to the conditions.

Between 1815 and 1914, an industrial revolution took place. The industries in the cities eventually won the competition with the rural industries. Because of the industrial revolution that took place, urbanisation started in the 19th century. Cities still needed many new people every now and again because of bad sanitary conditions and diseases. We may find several

types of cities: cities with textile industry, cities with heavy industry and administrative or commercial cities.

In addition, the industrial revolution also affected transportation and hence, trade. In the nineteenth century bicycles, steamships and trains made it easier for people to move further away. Hence the naval dominance of Great Britain at that time and its imperial expansion through the African continent by building railways. A further growth of the factory system took place independent of machinery, and owed its origin to the expansion of trade, an expansion which was itself due to the great advance made at this time in the means of communication. Actually, between 1818 and 1829 more than a thousand additional miles of turnpike road were constructed; and the next year, 1830, saw the opening of the first railroad.

2.1.4. Technological consequences.

The main technological consequences were that new technologies were applied to the production of goods and services. We must take into account the move from hand-made work to manufactures, which is a prominent fact regarding the substitution of the factory for the domestic system. Throughout the nineteenth century, the main technological events include:

the British canal network was expanded until the building of the Manchester Ship Canal (in 1894).

by the nineteenth century, machinery and manufacturing made possible by technical advances such as the steam engine which came to dominate the traditional agrarian economy.

Finally, the exploitation of new, rich coal and ore reserves kept raw material costs down and the repositioning of factories near these reserves (and near population centres) slowly transferred the balance of political power from the landowner to the industrial capitalist (while creating an urban working class).

2.2. The development of the British Empire.

In general terms, within the policy of imperial expansion and the establishment of new colonies all over the world, historians make a distinction between two British empires which follows a temporal classification within different centuries. Thus, according to (2004), the first British empire traces back to the seventeenth century “when the European demand for sugar and tobacco led to the development of plantations on the islands of the

Caribbean and in southeast North America. These colonies, and those settled by religious dissenters in northeast North America, attracted increasing numbers of British and European colonists”.

Hence, “the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries saw the first British Empire expanding into areas formerly controlled by the Dutch and Spanish Empires (then in decline) and coming into conflict with French colonial aspirations in Africa, Canada, and India. With the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the British effectively took control of Canada and India, but the American Revolution (1776) brought their first empire to an end”.

On the other hand, a further phase of territorial expansion that led to the second British Empire was initiated by the exploratory voyages of Captain James Cook to Australia and New Zealand in the 1770s. “This reached its widest point during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837–1901). At no time in the first half of her reign was empire a central preoccupation of her or her governments, but this was to change in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), which altered the balance of power in Europe”.

During the next decades, the British empire was compared to the Roman empire because of its extension, but the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were just about to see the development in the dismantling of the British Empire with the declaration of independence of the British colonies in India (1947) and Hong Kong (1997). So, one by one, the subject peoples of the British Empire have entered a postcolonial era, in which they must reassess their national identity, their history and literature, and their relationship with the land and language of their former masters (

Symbolically, the British Empire reached its highest point on June 22, 1897, the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, which the British celebrated as a festival of empire. It was a great moment where the British Empire was compared to the Roman Empire1, comparison which was endlessly invoked in further discussions and literary works, for instance, at the start of Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness (1902) and in Thomas Hardy’s Poems of Past and Present (1901).

clip_image001In 1897 the Empire seemed invincible, but only two years later British confidence was shaken by the news of defeats at Magersfontein and Spion Kop in the Anglo-Boer War (1899- 1902).

1 “The Roman Empire, at its height, comprised perhaps 120 million people in an area of 2.5 million square miles. The British Empire, in 1897, comprised some 372 million people in 11 million square miles. An interesting aspect of the analogy is that the Roman Empire was long held – by the descendants

of the defeated and oppressed peoples of the British Isles – to be generally a good thing. Ch ildren in the United Kingdom are still taught that the Roman legions brought laws and roads, civilization rather than oppression, and in the second half of the nineteenth century, that was the precedent invoked to sanction the Pax Britannica(

Those and other battles were lost, but eventually the war was won, and it took two world wars to bring the British Empire to its end. Those wars also were won, with the loyal help of troops from the overseas empire.

2.2.1. Political background.

As stated above, the political background is namely represented by the accession of Queen

Victoria to the throne when her uncle, William IV dies in 1837. So Victoria would reign from

1837 to 1901 and would be the longest reigning British monarch. In general terms, during Victoria’s reign, the revolution in industrial practices continued to change British life, bringing about urbanisation, a good communications network and wealth. In addition, Britain became a champion of Free Trade across her massive Empire, and industrialisation and trade were glorified in the Great Exhibitions. Yet, by the turn of the century, Britain’s empire was being challenged successfully by other nations such as France and Germany on the continent. We consider worth reviewing the main political benchmarks under her rule since important changes took place in her colonies. Thus:

In 1846 the Corn Law Act was passed again (since it was set up in 1815 already as a measure to protect the economic interests of landowners after the Napoleonic Wars). Yet, this kept the price of not only corn but also bread artificially high. Alt hough an Anti-Corn Law League formed to oppose the legislation, it was not until the potato famine in Ireland that repeal was enacted in a belated attempt to alleviate some of the suffering. The repeal marked an end to protectionist policies and can be seen as a major stepping stone in turning Britain into a free trading nation.

From the 1850s, Britain was the leading industrial power in the world. Superseding the early dominance of textiles, railway, construction, iron- and steel-working soon gave new impetus to the British economy by expanding territories in Africa (namely railways).

Yet, the most outstanding event after 1837 was the Great Exhibition in 1851, in which the British empire was compared to the Roman empire. It was an imperial and industrial celebration which was held in Hyde Park in London in the specially constructed Crystal Palace, whose profits allowed for the foundation of public works such as the Albert Hall, the Science Museum, the National History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Other important events were the Crimean War between 1854 and 1856, which at first was between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, and later Britain and France were involved. During this war Britain maintained their colonial possessions.

In 1855, Parliament launched the Limited Liabilities Act, by means of which companies were allowed to limit the liability of their individual investors to the value of their shares. As a result of the act the risk is credited with being the basis for the increased investment in trade and industry, although most of the evidence for this is apocryphal. Between 1857 and 1858, there was an Indian Mutiny between Indian soldiers (Hindu and Muslim) who opposed their British commanders following a series of insensitive military demands which disrespected traditional beliefs. The mutiny led to the end of East India Company rule in India and its replacement by direct British governmental rule.

Following the death of Albert (Victoria’s husband) in 1861, she had increasingly withdrawn from national affairs and criticism of the Queen lessened and she resumed her interest in constitutional and imperial affairs (she was created Empress of India in


Victoria’s death in January 1901 was an occasion of national mourning.

Finally, to close the century we find the Boer War (1899-1902) which started as Britain attempted to annex the Transvaal Republic in southern Africa. In December 1880, the Boers of the Transvaal revolted against British rule, defeated an imperial force and forced the British government to recognise their independence. Finally, the peace of Vereeniging in May 1902 annexed the Boer Republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State to the British Empire (which, in 1910, became part of the Union of South Africa).

2.2.2. Social and economic background.

As stated above, one of the main social features of this period is the urbanisation of the mass population after 1850. In the harvest season, people worked on the countryside and the rest of the time in the cities, which meant that more and more people could not fall back on the countryside. That is when circle migration became chain migration. Cities with textile or heavy- industry attracted labourers, just like commercial and administrative centres. People from all over Europe (after 1861 also from Eastern Europe) and even from other continents moved towards the new industry-centres in England, France and Germany, and even to the new British

colonies, where the most outstanding consequence was the emancipation of slaves in British colonies (1833).

A new social class emerged after 1850, the middle class, which was made up of a fairly small and easily identifiable group: the professionals, businessmen, bankers, and shopkeepers, among others. Hence, the upper middle class was to be divided into two groups: those working in professional jobs and with a university educational background and those which did not enjoy a university education. The former group refers to the sons of doctors, lawyers, the clergy of the established church, civ il servants and administrative posts whereas the second group involves the sons of the owners of agrarian properties, such as cotton mills, shipyards, and farmers among others.

Revolutions and nationalism also caused migration all over Europe in this period because of the wish to make states with one nationality in them, rulers suppressed minorities and encouraged people from their own nationality to return home. Another specific social feature which will be reflected in the literature of the time is the standard of living of some members of the labouring population, who began to increase quite quickly between the years 1868 and 1874, and the period between 1880 and 1896.

Finally another relevant feature regarding social changes was the role that women played in society through institutions such as charities, churches, local politics, and the arts, especially music. Women’s expectations changed from the idea of breeding children and running the household,to the privilege of studying at universities and colleges at Oxford, Cambridge and London. Yet, the professions remained prohibited for women, but a few succeeded in practising as doctors. As we shall see, all these changes, social and political, will be reflected by Charles Dickens in most of his novels (Great Expectations, Bleak House).

In addition, since the industrial revolution affected transportation and hence, trade, in the nineteeth century bicycles, steamships and trains made it easier for people to move further away. An ever-growing part of world population became subdued to market economy. A further growth of the factory system took place independent of machinery, and owed its origin to the expansion of trade, an expansion which was itself due to the great advance made at this time in the means of communication, for instance, between 1818 and 1829 more than a thousand additional miles of turnpike road were constructed; and the next year, 1830, saw the opening of the first railroad. Note that this information overlaps with the events listed in the Industrial Revolution consequences.

These improved means of communication caused an extraordinary increase in commerce, and to secure a sufficient supply of goods it became the interest of the merchants to collect weavers around them in great numbers, to get looms together in a workshop, and to give out the warp themselves to the workpeople. To these latter this system meant a change from independence to dependence; at the beginning of the century the report of a committee asserts the essential role of commerce and communication in the expansion of the Industrial Revolution and the British empire all over Europe and the rest of the world.

In the late 19th century, similar revolutionary transformations occurred in other European nations, such as France (1790-1800 to 1860- 1870), Germany (1830- 40 to 1870-80), Belgium (1820-30 to 1870-80) and the United States (1830-40 to 1870-80). Hence, the fight between France, Germany and England in the construction of railways through the African continent with the aim of controlling the largest part of the territory.

2.2.3.The nineteenth-century British colonies.

Generally speaking, the nineteenth century development and administration of British colonies was focused on the consolidation of existing colonies and the expansion into new areas, especially in Africa, India and Canada. Actually, in the early nineteenth century new British colonies were to be acquired or strengthened because of their strategic value, thus Malaca and Singapore because of their trading ports of growing importance, and the settlements of Alberta, Manitobba, and the British Columbia in Canada as potential areas of British migration. The main causes for other new acquisitions were, among others, the Treaty of Amiens (1802) by adding Trinidad and Ceylon; the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) with the addition of the Cape of Good Hope; the War with the United States (1812) brought about the Canadian unity; and the first Treaty of Paris (1814) gained Tobago, Mauritius, St. Lucia and Malta.

Also, between the years 1857 and 1858 Britain acquired in India the cities of Agra, Bengal and Assam after some local wars against French influence. Perhaps the Napoleonic Wars brought about more new acquisitions to the British empire in this century than any other war, since the Crimean War (1854-1856), the pacification programs in Africa, and some conflicts in New Zealand (against the Maoris) made little or no difference to the British empire. Yet, the most serious conflict was just about to come towards the end of the century with the War in Sudan

(1884) and the Boer War (1881, 1899-1902). So, as we can see, still in the nineteenth century, Great Britain maintained her political and imperial sovereignty.

In order to control these colonies, the British government created a sophisticated system for colonial administration: the Colonial Office and Board of Trade (1895-1900). Already in the

1850s, they were ruled by legislative bodies, since the colonies continuously asked for

independence. They were separate departments with an increasing staff and a continuing policy of establishing discipline and pressure on the colonial goverments. Hence most colonial governements were left to themselves.

However, these legislative bodies governing the new settlements were soon to be replaced by an executive body which took over the financial control. This elected assembly would be represented by the figure of the governor and would be responsible for the colonial government. Therefore, these settlements became ‘crown colonies’, and were subject to direct rule, as we can see in the African and Pacific expansion where the crown colony system was established. Let us examine how this new colonial governing body was applied in the colonies of Australia, Asia and Africa.

In the Antipodes, New Zealand and Oceania were systematically colonized in the 1840s under the pressure of British missionaries. Yet, territorial disputes were brought up between the new colonists and the homeland tribes, the Maoris. Hence the Maori Wars (1840s-1860s) which eventually ended with the withdrawal of British troops and a peaceful agreement of settlement for the newcomers. In the last quarter of the century, the British empire took the control over other islands in the Pacific, again because of missionary pressure and international naval rivalry and, eventually, the Fiji Island was annexed in 1874. Three years later the governement established a British High Commission for the Western Pacific Islands (1877) as well as a protectorate in Papua (1884) and in Tonga (1900). These protectorates were soon to be governed by Australia and New Zealand.

In Asia, India was conquered and therefore, had an expansion policy. As stated previously, the suppressed Indian ‘mutiny’ (1857) gave way to the abolishment of the East India Company (1858) and, therefore, the local executive body was replaced by that of the crown. Known as ‘the brightest jewel in the British crown’ (a Disraeli’s phrase), India was a strategic settlement for the British empire and her conquest was justified in terms of benefits and discipline. Further acquisitions (Burma, Punjab, Baluchistan) provided new crucial settlements in the area in order to set up a new route

in India. Since the opening of the Suez Canal, new territories were under the influence of Britain within this route: Aden, Somaliland, territories in southern Arabia and the Persian Gulf. Moreover, further expansion took place with the development of the Straits settlements and the federated Malay states; Borneo (1880s), Hong Kong (1841); and adjacent territories in China, Shangai (1860, 1896), which had trading purposes.

Finally, the greatest development of the British Empire took place in Africa in the last quarter of the century. The reign of Queen Victoria brought about a great enthusiasm for a ‘similar Roman empire’, whose power might extend from the Cape of Good Hope to El Cairo. This idea fascinated the British citizens who, in Queen Victoria’s two jubilees, offered colonial conferences, the search of new areas of opportunity, and the discoveries and wars for mining wealth in South Africa. In fact, the spread of the British empire comprised by the nineteenth century nearly a quarter of the land surface and more than a quarter of the population of the world.

From 1882 onwards Britain controlle d Egypt and Alexandria (by force), and a joint administration half British-half Egyptian was established in the Sudan area in 1899. Also, on the western coast the Royal Niger Company began the expansion over the area of Nigeria. By then there were two main British Companies: the Imperial British East Africa Company, which operated in nowadays Kenya and Uganda, and the British South Africa Company in the areas now called Rhodesia, Zambia, and Malawi. Hence the missionary migrations to Africa in the eventual transfer of these territories to the crown.


In Chapter 3, we shall provide a literary background for the Victorian novel, which is known as the Victorian literature. So, in this section we shall analyse (1) the main features of Victorian literature; (2) the literary division of Victorian literature into three periods, early, mid and late Victorian period; (3) the main literary forms of the time, thus (a) drama, (b), poetry and (c) prose; and within this latter, we shall examine the main concerns of the most relevant Victorian writers of the time, classified into social, political and philosophical writings. Hence, in next chapter, we shall concentrate only on the literary form of the novel, and therefore, on the main Victorian novelists.

3.1. The main features of Victorian literature.

As stated before, the Victorian Age includes several changes different in nature and, in this respect, the literary background presents a great variety of aspects. Thus, the literary period is characterized by its morality, which to a great extent is a natural revolt against the grossness of the earlier Regency, and the influence of the Victorian Court. In addition, literary productions are affected by the intellectual developments in science, religion, and politics.

Also, the new education acts of the period made education compulsory, which rapidly produced an enormous reading public. Actually, the cheapening of printing and paper increased the demand for books among which the most popular form was the novel. Finally, we also observe a strong literary interaction between American and European writers (specially in political and philosopical writings). In Britain, the influence of the great German writers was continuous (Carlyle, Arnold).

The Victorian literature is characterized by the telling of every detail, as in photography so as to get a real image of the object or person described. The fact may suggest concepts of clarity, precision, and certainty. On the contrary, the disadvantages of being close to the object, and of possessing masses of information about it is the production of copious works. So we notice that this aspect of clarity is reflected in the main literary productions of the period, which are namely divided into three groups: political, philosophical and social so as to reflect the events of the time.

3.2. The Victorian literary division.

Traditionally, historians distinguish early, middle and late Victorian England, corresponding to periods of growing pains, of confidence in the 1850s, and of loss of consensus after 1880. These dates offer a convenient (and approximate) division: the early Victorian period from 1830 to

1850, in which rural England was deeply transformed due to the emergence of the Industrial

Revolution; the mid Victorian period from 1850 to 1873, which saw the highest point of the British imperial expansion, and economic and political prosperity; and finally, the late Victorian period from 1873 to 1901, since 1873 is the year of the Great Depression which marks the end of British economic supremacy and, therefore, the decline of the British empire.

Therefore, although the period is related to many Victorian writers, such as Dickens, Thackeray, the Brontës, George Eliot, Trollope, James and Hardy in fiction; Tennyson, Browning and

Hopkins as poets; and thinkers such as Carlyle, Mill, Ruskin and Newman, among others, all of them are to be related to each of the three main Victorian periods regarding the themes they reflect in their works, despite the literary form they might use (drama, poetry, prose) or the events they denounced (political, philosophical, social).

It is worth pointing out that, since the two last decades of 1880 and 1900, together with the next decade (1900-1910), lie between the mid-Victorian period and the peaks of the late Victorian literature (modernism), historians tend to classify writers into two categories: early and late- Victorian figures. Although the last decades of the reign saw a disintegration of the middle group of writers, a small number of them can be mentioned although they shall be included in the latter group. Thus, George Eliot, Oscar Wilde, and George Bernard Shaw (these two latter included in drama productions).

3.3. The main literary forms of the time.

3.3.1. Drama.

Following Albert (1990), “from the dramatic point of view the first half of the nineteenth century was almost completely barren” since the professional theatre of the period was in a low state and the greater part of the dramatists work never saw the stage. “The popular pieces of the day were melodrama, farces and sentimental comedies, which had no literary qualities whatever, were poor in dialogue and negligible in characterization, and relied for their success upon sensation, rapid action, and spectacle”.

Yet, towards the end of the nineteenth century, the last decades of the reign saw major talents in a revival of literary theatre. Among the most prominent dramatists of the period we may mention Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw. On the one hand, Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) put his art into his lifestyle to such extent that he was compared to the flamboyant Byron’s style. He was also a brilliantly provocative critic, but his distinction namely lies in his comedies, the comedy of manners. Wilde reunited literature and theatre after a century in which poets from Shelley to Tennyson wrote poetical plays, little staged and largely forgotten. Wilde’s most popular comedies were Lady Windermere’s Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of being Earnest, staged between 1892 and 1895.

On the other hand, George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), whose first works were received with hostility, and the need to create his own audience led him to publish som of them before they

were produced. Some of his works were Widower’s Houses (1892), Pleasant and Unpleasant (1898) and The Philanderer (1893:1905); John Millington Synge (1871-1909), who was the greatest dramatist in the rebirth of the Irish Theatre and had a unique style since his plays were written in prose, by had the rhythms and cadences of poetry. Thus, The Shadow of the Glen (1903) and The Tinker’s Wedding (1907); other lesser dramatists are Henry Arthur Jones (1851-

1929), Sir Arthur Wing Pinero (1855-1934), and John Galsworthy (1867-1933).

3.3.2. Poetry.

The Victorian Age produced literary works of a high quality, but, except in the novel, the amount of actual innovation is by no means great since there were many attempts at purely narrative poetry. Despite the efforts to revive the epic, the impulse was not sufficiently strong. In the early nineteenth century we may higlight some preeminent poets of the Victorian Age, such as:

Alfred, Lord Tennyson whose poetry, although romantic in subject matter, was tempered by personal melancholy; in its mixture of social certitude and religious doubt it reflected the age.

The poetry of Robert Browning and his wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who was immensely popular, though Elizabeth’s was more venerated during their lifetimes. Browning is best remembered for his superb dramatic monologues.

Rudyard Kipling was the poet of the triumphant empire, who would capture the quality of the life of the soldiers of British expansion, and would reflect the Indian atmosphere. He also wrote in prose, among which his most popular work was The Jungle Book (1984).

In the middle of the 19th century we find the so-called Pre-Raphaelites who, led by the painter-poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, sought to revive what they judged to be the simple, natural values and techniques of medieval life and art.

Other Victorian figures, such as A. E. Housman and Thomas Hardy, who lived on into the 20th century, shared a pessimistic view in their poetry.

Yet, the great innovator among the late Victorian poets was the Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins, whose concentration and originality of imagery had a profound effect on the twentieth-century poetry.

In the last decade of the century, we find the so-called decadents, who pointed out the hypocrisies in Victorian values and institutions. among them in both notoriety and talent. Among them, we find the notorious figure of Oscar Wilde, who also wrote sickly sentimentalist poems, together with some pieces of fiction.

3.3.3. Prose: the Victorian novel.

There is no doubt that the Victorian era was the age of the English novel, namely realistic, thickly plotted, crowded with characters, and long. By the end of the period, the novel was considered not only the premier form of entertainment but also a primary means of analyzing and offering solutions to social and political problems, only challenged by the revival of drama towards the last two decades. This king style, the novel, is presented with a political, philosophical or social overtone (Thackeray, Dickens, Brontë) since was the ideal form to describe contemporary life and to entertain the middle class.

Another variety of prose is the short story (namely developed in the next century); the essays, in the treatise-style (Carlyle, Symonds, Pater); the lecture, which became prominent both in England and in America; historical novel, strongly represented by William Stubbs, Edward A. Freeman and Samuel R. Gardiner; and finally, we find the scientific treatise so as to account of the scientific developments of the period (Browne, Burton, Berkeley).

Political writing reflects the political consequences of the industrial revolution in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Britain. Therefore, writers such as Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873), Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), who was famous for sequences of related novels that explore social, ecclesiastical, and political life in England, and Thomas Carlyle (1795- 1881) among others, show, denunciate and value the moral and political affairs which deeply affected society in Britain at that period. Thus, some of their works are respectively, Disraeli’s Coningsby: or the New Generation (1844), Sybil: or The Two Nations (1845), dealing with the politics of his day; Bulwer-Lytton’s Richelieu, or the Consp iracy (1839), A Strange Story (1862) and The Coming Race (1871); Trollope’s Phineas Finn (1869) and Phineas Redux (1874), where he makes a satire of the political period; and finally, Carlyle’s The French Revolution (1837) and Oliver Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches (1845), in an attempt to criticize Cromwells’ methods.

Philosophical writing is namely represented by George Eliot (1819-1880), who is actually a woman writing under a pen-name, George Meredith (1828- 1909) and Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895). His main works reflect the most outstanding philosophical and moral problems of the period, thus respectively: Eliot’s Adam Bede (1859), an excellent picture of English country life among the humbler classes, Felix Holt the Radical (1866), a critical work on the Reform Bill, and Daniel Deronda (1876), which strongly coloured preoccupation at that period with moral problems and and inexorable realism; Meredith’s Vittoria (1867) which revindicates the spirited handling of the Italian insurrectionary movement and The Egoist (1879), with a moral plot; finally, Huxley’s Man’s Place in Nature (1863), Lay Sermons, Addresses and Reviews (1870), and American Addresses (1877).

Finally, social writing is represented by:

o William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863), whose works showed a biting humour and the observation of human weaknesses, thus The Book of Snobs (1849), The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon (1844), a picaresque novel, and Vanity Fair (1847-1848), which tells about the fortunes of Becky Sharp to denounce the mournful vision of the vanities of mankind, and wickedly satirizes hypocrisy and greed; and The Virginians (1857-1859).

o The Brontë sisters, Charlotte (1816-1855), Emily (1818- 1878) and Anne (1820-

1849) wrote melodramatic, terror and passionate novels addressing the features of the period in which they lived. Thus, Charlotte’s Jane Eyre (1847), full of countryside details, Shirley (1849) and Villette (1853); Emily’s unique Wuthering Heights (1847) in a description of the wild, desolate moors where the main characters conceive their passions in gigantic proportions, described with a stark realism; finally, Anne’s Agnes Grey (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848).

o Wilkie Collins (1824-1889), who was considered to be the most successful of

the followers of Dickens, specialized in the mystery novel to which he sometimes added a spice of the supernatural. Thus The Dead Secret (1857), The Woman in White (1860) and The Moonstone (1868) as one of his earliest detective stories.

o Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), who was strongly criticized by his stark pesimism

in his writing. Among his most famous works, we highlight Tess of the

D’Urbevilles (1891), Poems of the past and present (1901), The dynasts (1903-

1908), and Moments of Vision (1917). He is regarded as one of the first modernists in content, attitude rather than form.

o Charles Dickens (1812-1870), who showed in all his novels a great interest in Social Reform at his time. His novels, full to overflowing with drama, humor, and an endless variety of vivid characters and plot complications, nonetheless spare nothing in their portrayal of what urban life was like for all classes.

o Finally, among many others not mentioned, we find Joseph Conrad (1857-

1924) and Rudyard Kipling (1865- 1936), who were profoundly preoccupied with the consequences of imperalism and the British empire expansion, namely in Africa and India, respectively.


In Chapter 4 we shall attempt to provide a general account of the Victorian novel and, therefore, the life, style and main works of the most prominent Victorian novelists. Note that we shall just mention, and not examine, in detail lesser novelists since we would need more time and a wider research, but we have considered relevant to mention them in case the reader is interested in obtaining further information about them.

Therefore, we shall present the main (1) early Victorian novelists in the following order: (a) the Brönte sisters, (b) Dickens, (c) Thackeray, (d) Trollope, (e) Disraeli, (f) Gaskell, (g) Eliot, and (h) other lesser novelists. Similarly, the main (2) late Victorian novelists will be examined in the following order, (a) Meredith, (b) Hardy, (c) James, (d) Conrad, (e) Kipling, and (f) other lesser novelists.

4.1. Early Victorian novelists.

The early Victorian writers coincided with the deep transformation of rural England into the industrial one and are, namely, among others, Charles Dickens (1812-1870), as the dominant figure of the Victorian novel; the Brontë sisters, who combined elements of the Gothic with a remarkably imagined account of the social institutions of Victorian London; Dickens’ rival, Thackeray, who is namely represented by his work Vanity Fair, a morality novel; and Mrs Gaskell and Trollope with a less theatrical realism. Other writers worth mentioning in this period are Benjamin Disraeli, Lewis Carroll and, on the limits between the mid and late Victorian novelists, the works of George Eliot, profoundly preoccupied with the historian of imperfect lives in their fullest social settings.

For the sake of clarity we shall treat author by author, we shall treat them at the expense of chronology, interrelation, and context. Hence, although the chronology according to date of birth would be as follows: Bulwer-Lytton, Disraeli, Gaskell, Thackeray, Dickens, Trollope, the Bröntes, and Eliot, among others, we shall examine them in terms of genres. For instance, although Dickens published his first novel in the year of Victoria’s accession to the throne, and the Bröntes ten years later, they will be treated first since their novels are closer to the genres of the Romantic poetry than to the realism of the mainstream novel and also, they deal with fantasy and family rather than with current affairs of national interest. This also allows Mrs Gaskell, Kickens and Thackeray to be taken together since they are closer to historical developments.

Hence we shall examine the main authors in the following order: the Bröntes, Dickens, Thackeray, Trollope, Disraeli, Gaskell, Eliot, and other lesser novelists.

4.1.1. The Brönte sisters.

Following Albert (1990:397), “Charlotte (1816-1855), Emily (1818-1848), and Anne (1820-49) were the daughters of an Irish clergyman, Patrick Brönte, who held a living in Yorkshire. Financial difficulties compelled Charlotte to become a school-teacher (1835-1838) and then a governess. Along with Emily she visited Brussels in 1842, and then returned home, where family cares kept her closely tied. Later her books had much success, and she was released from many of ther financial worries. She was married in 1854, but died in the next year. Her two younger sisters had predeceased her”.

In addition, according to Alexander (2000:273), “they were educated at home, the parsonage of Haworth, a village on the Yorkshire moors, with their sister Anne and brother Branwell. As adolescents they wrote fantasies set in the worlds of Gondal and Angria”. Hence they wrote melodramatic, terror and passionate novels addressing the features of the period and the place in which they lived. With the Bröntes English poetry was transformed into the first Victorian novels at the beginning of the century. They are said to have been the pioneers in fiction of that aspect of the romantic movement which concerned the baring of human soul.

According to Albert (1990:398), “the Bröntes painted the sufferings of an individual personality, and presented a new conception of the heroine as a woman of vital strength and passionate feelings. Their works are as much the products of the imagination and emotions as of the intellect, and in their more powerful passages they border on poetry. In their concern with the human soul they were to be followed by George Eliot and George Meredith.”

Regarding their main works, let analyse the literary productions of Charlotte, Emily and Anne, respectively. Charlotte’s first novel, The Professor (1857) was a failure since she could not find a publisher; actually the novel appeared after her death. “Following the experiences of her own life in an uninspired manner, the story lacks interest, and the characters are not created with the passionate insight which distinguishes her later portraits. Jane Eyre (1847) is her greatest novel and is full of countryside details. The love story of the plain, but very vital, heroine is unfolded with a frank truthfulness and a depth of understanding that are new in English fiction. The plot is weak, full of improbability, and often melodramatic, but the main protagonists are deeply conceived, and the novel rises to moments of sheer terror (Albert, 1990:397).”

“In her next novel, Shirley (1849), Charlotte Brönte reverts to a more normal and less impassioned portrayal of life. Again the theme is the love story of a young girl, here delicately told, though the plot construction is weak. Villette (1853) is written in a reminiscent vein, and the character of Lucy Snowe is based on the author herself. The truth and intensity of Charlotte’s work are unquestioned; she can see and judge with the eye of a genius. But these merits have their disadvantages In the plot of her novels she is largely restricted to her own experiences; her high seriousness is unrelieved by any humour; and her passion is at times over- charged to the point of frenzy. But to the novel she brought an energy and passion that gave to commonplace people the wonder and beauty of the romantic world (1990:397-398).”

On the other hand, although Emily wrote less than Charlotte, “Emily Brönte is in some ways the greatest of the three sisters (1990:398)”. Emily’s unique Wuthering Heights (1847) breathes the very spirit of the wild, desolate moors where the main characters conceive their passions in gigantic proportions. The novel often reaches the realms of poetry and has a series of climaxes which increase the intensity of the novel by means of unbelievable peaks of passion, described with a stark realism. She also tried with poetry though just a few of her poems reached the very highest levels. “They reveal the great courage and strength of her passionate nature, and, at her best, she uses simple verse forms with great intensity and a certain grandeur. Her finest poems probably “No Coward Soul is Mine” and “Cold in the earth, and the deep snow piled above thee”, among others (Albert, 1990:398).”

Finally, Anne is by far the least important figure of the three since her two novels, Agnes Grey (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) are much inferior to those of her sisters, for she lacks nearly all their power and intensity.

4.1.2. Charles Dickens (1812-1870).

Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812 and he was the son of John and Elizabeth

Dickens. His father was a clerk in the Naval Pay Office who had a poor head for finances, so in

1824 found himself imprisoned for debt. His wife and children, with the exception of Charles, who was put to work at Warren’s Blacking Factory, joined him in the Marshalsea Prison. When the family finances were put at least partly to rights and his father was released, the twelve-year- old Dickens, already scarred psychologically by the experience, was further wounded by his mother’s insistence that he continue to work at the factory.

His father, however, rescued him from that fate, and between 1824 and 1827 Dickens was a day pupil at a school in London. At fifteen, he found employment as an office boy at an attorney’s, while he studied shorthand at night. His brief stint at the Blacking Factory haunted him all of his life, but the dark secret became a source both of creative energy and of the preoccupation with the themes of alienation and betrayal which would emerge, most notably, in David Copperfield and in Great Expectations.

In 1829 he became a free-lance reporter at Doctor’s Commons Courts, and in 1830 he met and fell in love with Maria Beadnell, the daughter of a banker. By 1832 he had become a very successful shorthand reporter of Parliamentary debates in the House of Commons, and began work as a reporter for a newspaper. In 1833 his relationship with Maria Beadnell ended, probably because her parents did not think him a good match. In the same year his first published story appeared, and was followed, very shortly thereafter, by a number of other stories and sketches. In 1834, still a newspaper reporter, he adopted the soon to be famous pseudonym ‘Boz’. Later in his life both of his parents (and his brothers) were frequently after him for money. In 1835 he met and became engaged to Catherine Hogarth.

The first series of Sketches by Boz was published in 1836, and that same year Dickens was hired to write short texts to accompany a series of humorous sporting illustrations by Robert Seymour, a popular artist. Seymour committed suicide after the second number, however, and under these peculiar circumstances Dickens altered the initial conception of The Pickwick Papers, which continued in monthly parts through November 1837, and, to everyone’s surprise, it became an enormous popular success.

Regarding his style, Dickens’ novels were so demanded despite the crudity of plot, the unreality of characters and the looseness of style. His novels were also issued in parts, this resulting in much padding and slow work. Yet, his style is characterized by:

Dickens’ interest in social reform, which embody no systematic social or political theory but the evils of his day (boarding schools in Nicholas Nickleby, workhouses in

Oliver Twist, the new manufacturing system in Hard Times, the Court of Chancery in Bleak House). His crudest realism showed pictures of poverty rather than political pictures of legislation, but all his novels show his preoccupation with social problems; His imagination, shown in the multiplicity of characters and situations to create a whole world of people.

His humour and pathos, which gave him the reputation of a good humorist. His humour is not very subtle, but it goes deep, and is free and vivacious in expression. His pathos appeared in the deaths of little children, which he describes in detail (the death of Bill Sikes).

His mannerisms so as to create a characterization of the protagonists in stereotypes: the round character and the flat characters.

His style is not polished nor scholarly, but it is clear, rapid, and workmanlike, as the style of a journalist. He would use cockneyisms, and tiresome circumlocutions. In his deeply pathetic passages, he adopted a lyrical style, a kind of verse-in-prose, that is blank verse slightly disguised.

His works are numerous and are related to his life experience. Thus, after the success of The Pickwick Papers (1836), Dickens embarked on a full- time career as a novelist, producing work of increasing complexity at an incredible rate, although he continued, as well, his journalistic and editorial activities. Yet, before Pickwick was finished, Oliver Twist appeared piecemeal in Bentley’s Miscellany in 1837, and continued in monthly parts until April 1839.

Nicholas Nickleby got underway in 1838, and continued through October 1839, in which year Dickens resigned as editor of Bentley’s Miscellany. The first number of Master Humphrey’s Clock appeared in 1840, but he sensibly abandoned the notion, and the books appeared separately as The Old Curiosity Shop (1840), which was an immense success. Soon he wrote Barnaby Rudge (1841), a historical novel, which continued through November of that year.

In 1842 he embarked on a visit to Canada and the United States in which he advocated international copyright and the abolition of slavery. His American Notes (1842), created a furor in America, but not Martin Chuzzlewit (1843), which was not complimentary to the Americans, and brought him unpopularity in the United States. Next year, he wrote A Christmas Carol (1843), the first of Dickens’s enormously successful Christmas books. Three years later, Dombey and Son (1846) appeared, which was written partly at Lausanne.

In that same year, Dickens and his family toured Italy, and were much abroad, in Italy, Switzerland, and France, until 1847. Dickens returned to London in December 1844, when The

Chimes was published, and then went back to Italy, not to return to England until July of 1845.

1845 also brought the debut of Dickens’s amateur theatrical company, which would occupy a great deal of his time from then on. The Cricket and the Hearth, a third Christmas book, was published in December, and his Pictures From Italy appeared in 1846 in the Daily News, a paper which Dickens founded.

In 1847, in Switzerland, Dickens began Dombey and Son (1846), which ran until April 1848. The Battle of Life appeared in December of that year. In 1848 Dickens also wrote an autobiographical fragment, directed and acted in a number of amateur theatricals, and published what would be his last Christmas book, The Haunted Man , in December. Then in 1849 he wrote David Copperfield, which would run through November 1850. In that year, too, Dickens founded and installed himself as editor of the weekly Household Words (1849), which would be succeeded by All the Year Round (1859), edited until his death. 1851 found him at work on Bleak House, which appeared monthly from 1852 until September 1853.

In 1853 he toured Italy with Augustus Egg and Wilkie Collins and gave, upon his return to England, the first of many public readings from his own works. Hard Times began to appear weekly in Household Words in 1854, and continued until August. Dickens’s family spent the summer and the fall in Boulogne. In 1855 they arrived in Paris in October, and Dickens began Little Dorrit, which continued in monthly parts until June 1857. In 1856 Dickens and Wilkie Collins collaborated on a play, The Frozen Deep, and Dickens purchased Gad’s Hill, an estate he had admired since childhood.

In 1859 his London readings continued, and he began a new weekly, All the Year Round. The first installment of A Tale of Two Cities (1859) appeared in the opening number, and the novel continued through November. By 1860, the Dickens family had taken up residence at Gad’s Hill. Dickens, during a period of retrospection, burned many personal letters, and re-read his own David Copperfield, the most autobiographical of his novels, before beginning Great Expectations, which appeared weekly until August 1861.

After producing Our Mutual Friend (1864), his readings continued, in England, Scotland, and Ireland, until at last he collapsed, showing symptoms of mild stroke. Further provincialreadings were cancelled, but he began upon The Mystery of Edwin Drood . Then he paid his second visit to America, but did not live to finish his last work, which was appearing in monthly parts when he died as Dickens was in poor health, due largely to cons istent overwork.

Dickens’s final public readings took place in London in 1870. He suffered another stroke on

June 8 at Gad’s Hill, after a full day’s work on Edwin Drood, and died the next day. He was

buried at Westminster Abbey on June 14, and the last episode of the unfinished Mystery of

Edwin Drood appeared in September.

4.1.3. William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863).

William Makepeace Thackeray was born at Calcutta, in India but, after his father’s death in

1816 and mother’s remarriage, he was educated in England. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge in 1829. Both at school and college he struck his contemporaries as an idle and rather cynical youth, whose main diversions were sketching and lampooning his friends and enemies. He spent part of his youth in Europe as a painter, gambling away his money and, as a result, the loss of his fortune drove him to seek some means of earning a living.

These were the miseries from which, financially at least, he emerged in the 1840s as a brilliant sketch-writer and caricaturist. Already in Paris, he turned to journalism where he contributed with his art to several periodicals, including Punch and Fraser’s Magazine, winning his way slowly and with much difficulty. The most important contribution to these periodicals was The Yellowplush Correspondence (1837-1838), which dealt with the philosophy and experiences of Jeams, in imaginary footman.

After this, he married, but his wife became insane, and he lived by his pen, supporting his daughters, who lived with his mother in Paris. Then after publishing The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon (1844), a picaresque novel, telling of the adventures of a gambling rascal who prowls over Europe, and The Book of Snobs (1849), which continued to be Thackeray’s pet abhorrence. Next, Vanity Fair appeared monthly in 1847-1848. Later, he published Pendennis (1848-1850), The History of Henry Esmond (1852), a historical novel of great length and complexity, The Newcomes (1853-1854) and The Virginians (1857-1859).

“In 1860 Thackeray was appointed first editor of The Cornhill Magazine, and for this he wrote Lovel the Widower (1860), The Adventures of Philip (1861-1862), and a series of essays, charming and witty trifles, The Roundabout Papers (1860-1863). Both in size and in merit these last novels are inferior to their predecessors. At his death, which occurred with great suddenness, he left an unfinished novel, Denis Duval (Albert, 1990:394)”.

“Like Dickens, he had much success as a lecturer on both sides of the Atlantic, though in his methods he did not follow his fellow-novelist. Two courses of lectures were published as The

English Humourists of the Eighteenth Century (1853) and The Four Georges (1860). All his life he delighted in writing burlesques, the best of which are Rebecca and Rowena (1850), a comic continuation of Ivanhoe, The Legend of the Rhine (1845), a burlesque tale of medieval chivalry, and The Rose and the Ring (1855), an excellent example of his love of parody (Albert,


Regarding his style, he was namely recognized by his struggle through neglect and contempt to recognition; his method, which protested against conventions and reacted against the popular novel of the day, particularly, against romanticism; his humour and pathos, mixed with a good deal of criticism, the desire to reveal the truth and his satire; finally, he had a mimetic faculty and as a result, he was brilliant in his burlesque.

4.1.4. Anthony Trollope (1815-1882).

Anthony Trollope was born in London, and was the son of a failed barrister, Frances Trollope. Soon he was educated at Harrow and Winchester, and obtained an appointment in the Post Office. After an unpromising start he rapidly improved, and rose high in the service. He is known as a prolific novelists and actually, he wrote 40 pages each week, each of 250 words, often while travelling for the Post Office by train or ship. His Autobiography says that he began a new novel the day after finishing the last.

Following Alexander (2000:283), “Trollope presents himself as a workman proud of his work, but his demystification of the business of writing upset the sensitive. He was robustly English, devoted to fox-hunting and cigars, taking his own bath with him on his travels. By 1900, when highbrows and middlebrows had drawn apart, aesthetes and intellectuals shrank from Trollope’s confidence. Yet Newman and George Eliot had admired him. His affectionate, temperate, good- humoured picture of an innocent rural social order has today a nostalgia which gilds its original charm”.

Most of his books are set in London. He lived in Ireland for eighteen years, and travelled more than any other 19th-century writer, in Europe, Africa, the Americas and the Pacific. He was a worker, a go-ahead civil servant and a moderate reformer, standing for Parliament as a Liberal in 1869. Unless Dickens he has no violently good or evil characters, and less melodrama than George Eliot. The realism in which he excels is broad and everyday rather than deep of intense, and is reflected in his prolific number of works.

According to Albert (1990:406), “Trollope began his career with Irish tales such as The Kellys and the O’Kellys (1848), whichhad little success, and then produced the Barsetshire novels on which his fame rests. This series, inwhich many of the same characters appear in several novels, deals with life in the imaginary county of Barsetshire and particularly in its ecclesiastical centre, Barchester. It began with The Warden (1855); then came Barchester Towers (1857), Doctor Thorne (1858), Framley Parsonage (1861), The Small House at Allington (1864), and finally The Last Chronicle of Barset (1866-1867). Later Trollope turned to the political novel in the manner of Disraeli, but without the latter’s political insight. Among his works in this kind were Phineas Finn (1869) and Phineas Redux (1874). One of his most interesting books in An Autobiography (1883).”

“Trollope is the novelist of the middle and upper-middle classes. With urbane familiarity and shrewd observation he presents an accurate, detailed picture of their quiet, uneventful lives in a matter-of-fact way which gives his works the appearance of chronicles of real life. His main concern is with character rather than plot, but his characters, though clearly visualized and described in great detail, lack depth, and Trollope never handles the profounder passions. The framework of his novel is a series of parallel stories moving with the leisureliness of everyday life. His style, efficiently direct, simple, and lucid, is seen to particular advantage in his dialogue. A vein of easy satire runs through many of his novels, and he makes skilful use of pathos. Within his limited scope he is a careful craftsman whose works retain their popularity” (1990:407).

4.1.5. Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881).

Benjamin Disraeli was bor n in London within a Jewish background. According to Albert (1990:404), “he studied law at Lindoln’s Inn but early showed his interest in literature. After the success of his first novel he spent three years making the Grand Tour of Europe, returning to England in 1831. In 1837, at the fifth attempt, he succeeded in gaining a seat in Parliament – as member for Maidstone. Ten years later he was leader of the Tories in the Commons, and he became Prime Minister in 1868 and again in 1870. He was raised to the peerage in 1867 and died in 1881 after a short illness.

He began his literary career as a novelist. Vivian Grey (1826-1827) soon set the fashionable world talking of its author. It dealt with fashionable society, it was brilliant and witty, and it had an easy arrogance that amused, incensed, and attracted at the same time. The general effect of cutting sarcasm was varied, but not improved, by passages of florid description and sentimental

moralizing. His next effort was The Voyage of Captain Popanilla (1828), a modern Gulliver’s Travels. The wit is very incisive, and the satire, though it lacks the solid weight of Swift’s, is sure and keen. Kisraeli wrote a good number of other novels, the most notable of which were Contarini Fleming. A Psychological Autobio graphy (1832), Henrietta Temple (1837), Coningsby: or the New Generation (1844), Sybil: or The Two Nations (1845), and Tancred: or the New Crusade (1847).

These last books, written when experience of public affairs had added depth to his vision and edge to his satire, are polished and powerful novels dealing with the politics of his day. At times they are too brilliant, for the continual crackle of epigram dazzles and wearies, and his tawdry taste leads him to overload his ornamental passages. Disraeli also carried further the idea of Captain Popanilla by writing Ixion in Heaven and The Infernal Marriage (both published in The New Monthly 1829-30, and in book form in 1853). These are half allegorical, half supernatural, but wholly satirical romances. In style the prose is inflated, but the later novels sometimes have flashes of real passion and insight.”

4.1.6. Mrs Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (1810-1865).

Mrs Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell was born in London and died in Hampshire. She was the daughter of William Stevenson, a Unitarian minister. In order to offer an overall view of her life, it is relevant to say that her mother dying a month after her birth, she was adopted by an aunt who lived at Knutsford, near Manchester; in 1832 she married William Gaskell, a distinguished Unitarian minister working in Manchester; she was mother of a large familly; although she began to write at thirty-seven, Dickens secured her for his magazines; she wrote Charlotte Brönte’s biography. Following Alexander (2000:275), “her work has the virtues of

19th-century realist fiction, of Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope.”

According to Albert (1990:413), “it is convenient to consider Mrs Gaskell’s writings in two groups rather than in the chronological order of their appearance. Her first novel was a sociological study based on her experience of the conditions of the labouring classes in the new cities of the industrial North. Mary Barton, A Tale of Manchester Life (1848) gives a realistic view of the hardships caused by the Industria l Revolution as seen from the workers’ point of view. It is weak in plot, but nevertheless has osme fine scenes, and it is carried forward by the strength of its passionate sympathy with the downtrodden.

North and South (1855) is on a similar theme and its plot is better managed. Like its predecessor it has some fine dramatic incidents. Sylvia’s Lovers (1863) is a moralistic love story in a domestic setting, with which scenes of wilder beauty and human violence are well blended, but the novel is spoilt by its unsatisfactory and rather melodramatic ending. Her last, and unfinished, novel, Wives and Daughters (1866), is by many considered her best. It is an ironical study of snobbishness, which is remarkable for its fine female characters such as Mrs Gibson, Molly Gibson, and Cynthia Kirkpatrick”. This is her most distinguished book which anticipates George Eliot in its steadily built-up exploration of family and provincial life shaped by historical contingencies which are less obviously thematic than those of Ruth (1853), about a seduced milliner.

Mrs Gaskell is, however, at her best in a different sphere – that of simple domesticity and everyday folk. Cranford (1853), her most celebrated work, is set among the ladies of a small town near Manchester. Light and humorous in tone, it is a small, well observed, gently penetrating series of papers rather than a novel. Apparently it is her least serious book, but its deserved popularity may diminish ideas of her true merit. In a similar vein are her shorter stories, My Lady Ludlow (1858) and Cousin Philips (1863- 1864). Her other work consisted largely of short stories and the well-known biography of her friend, Charlotte Brönte, which appeared in 1857.

Following Albert (1990:413), “the writings of Mrs Gaskell combine something of the delicate humour of Jane Austen with a moralistic intention not unlike that of George Eliot, but she is far less in stature than either. Her workmanship is too often uncertain, and her plots are generally weak and not infrequently melodramatic. Often the pathos, which she can handle with great effect, deteriorates into sentimentality, while her aims as a moralist lead her into preaching. Her style is simple, lucid, and unaffected, and at her best she has a delicate grace and charm”.

4.1.7. George Eliot (1819-1880).

George Eliot was the pen-name of Mary Ann Evans, the daughter of the steward of a Warwickshire estate, a circumstance which would inform all her work. She was born near Nuneaton, and after being educated at Coventry, she lived much at home. Her mind was well above the ordinary in its bent for religious and philosophical speculation. In 1846 she translated Strauss’s Life of Jesus, and on the death of her father in 1849 she took entirely to literary work. She was appointed assistant editor of The Westminster Review (1851), and became a member of

a literary circle. In later life she travelled extensively, and married J. W. Cross in 1880. She died at Chelsea in the same year.

Regarding her works, according to Albert (1990:399), “George Eliot discovered her bent for fiction when well into the middle years of her life. Her first works consisted of three short stories,published in Blackwood’s Magazine during 1857, and reissued under the title of Scenes of Clerical Life in the following year. Like her later novels they deal with the tragedy of ordinary lives, unfolded with an intense sympathy and deep insight into the truth of character. Adam Bede (1859) was a full- length novel, which announced the arrival of a new writer of the highest calibre. It gives an excellent picture of English country life among the humbler classes. The story of Hetty and the murder of ther child is movingly told, and the book is notable for its fine characters, outstanding among whom are Mrs Poyser, Hetty, and Adam Bede himself.

Her next work, considered by many her best, was The Mill on the Floss (1860). The partly autobiographical story of Maggie and Tom Tulliver is a moving tragedy set in an authentic rural background, and the character of Maggie is probably her most profound study of the inner receses of human personality. As yet her novelis not overloaded by the ethical interests which direct the course of her later works. In style it is simple, often almost poetical. Silas Marner: the Weaver of Raveloe (1861) is a shorter novel, which again gives excellent pictures of village life; it is less earnest in tone, and has scenes of a rich humour, which are skilfully blended with the tragedy. Like The Mill on the Floss, it is somewhat marred by its melodramatic ending.

With the publication of Romola (1863) begins a new phase of George Eliot’s writing. The ethical interests which had underlain all her previous works now become more and more the dominating factor in her novels. The story of Romola is set in medieva l Florence, but, in spite of the thorough research which lay behind it, the historical setting never really lives. Indeed, the note of spontaneity is lacking inthis novel, which is most memorable for its study of degeneracy in the character of Tito Melema. Felix Holt the Radical (1866), probably the least important of her novels, is set in the period of the Reform Bill.

Next came Middle -march, a Study of Provincial Life (1871-1872), in which George Eliot built up, from the lives of a great number of deeply studied characters, the complex picture of thelife of a small town. Her characters suffer through their own blindness and folly, and the theme is treated with a powerful and inexorable realism. Her last novel, Daniel Deronda (1876), is still more strongly coloured by her preoccupation with moral problems: it is more of a dissertation than a novel. It is grimly earnest in tone and almost completely lacking in the lighter touches of

her earlier work, though it has some fine scenes. In 1879 she published a collection of miscellaneous essays under the title of Impressions of Theophrastus Such.”

Regarding her style, we may highlight her choice of subject, always focused on the individual personality, the development of human soul, or the study of its relationship to the greater things beyond itself; her characters are usually drawn from the lower classes of society, and she shows a great management of psychology. Hence her studies of the English countryman show great understanding and insight, and she is partic ularly interested in self-deceivers and stupid people; the tone of her novels is one of moral earnestness and humour; and finally, we may consider her style to be lucid, simple, and reflective as well as often overweighted with abstractions. She handles the dialogue for the revelation of her characters, and she shows a great command of the idioms of ordinary speech, which enables her to achieve a fine naturalness”.

4.1.8. Other lesser novelists.

Other lesser novelists, Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) with his historical novels The Last Days of Pompeii (1834) or Harold, the Last of the Saxons (1848); Charles Reade (1814-1884), a famous playwright with his most fortunate production, Masks and Faces (1852); Wilkie Collins (1824-1889), known due to his mystery and detective stories, thus The Woman in White (1860) and The Moonstone (1868), respectively; Charles Kingsley (1819- 1875), a professor of History at Cambridge, with his great tale of the good old days of Queen Elizabeth, Westward Ho! (1855); Walter Besant (1836-1901), a class light novelist who wrote many novels along with James Rice (1844-1882), including The Golden Butterfly (1876); George Borrow (1803-1881) and his principal book The Bible in Spain (1843), a humorous and imaginative writer; Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), whose works namely consisted of translations, essays, and biographies, thus The French Revolution (1837) or Latter-day Pamphlets (1850); and finally, John Ruskin (1819-1900), who namely wrote on art, politics, economics and politics, but also about other miscellaneous subjects, thus The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849) or The Crown of Wild Olive (1866).

4.2. Late Victorian novelists.

On the other hand, within the group of late Victorian writers, we find that novel writers went along with and above a broadening mass market, as did Hardy and James respectively, and there was a new professional minor fiction under the figures of Butler, Stevenson, Collins as lesser

novelists). The main reason for the decline of the novel was that at the centre of the stage the late nineteenth century saw the revival of literary theatre (drama) with Wilde and Shaw as leading figures, and to a lesser extent, poetry with Housman and Kipling. Yet, in this chapter we shall only focus on the literary form of the novel and we shall examine the main late Victorian novelists authors in the following order: Meredith, Hardy, James, Conrad, Kipling and other lesser novelists.

4.2.1. George Meredith (1828-1909).

Following Albert (1990:401), “of the later Victorian novelists Meredith takes rank as the most noteworthy.” Regarding his life, we have scanty details of his earlier life. All we know is that “he was born at Portsmouth, and for two years (1843-1844) he was educated in Germany. At first (1845) he studied law, but, rebelling against his legal studies, took to iterature as a profession, contributing to magazines and newspapers. Like so many of the eager spirits of his day, he was deeply interested in the struggles of Italy and Germany to be free. For some considerable time he was reader to a London publishing house; then, as his own books slowly won their way, he was enabled to give more time to their composition. For a time in 1867 he was temporary editor of The Fortnightly Review. He died at his home at Box Hill, Surrey.”

Despite the fact that Meredith produced much poetry throughout his long life, we shall concentrate on his novels. His first important novel is The Ordeal of Richard Feverel (1859). Almost at one stride he attains to his full strength, for this ovel is typical of much of his later work. In plot it is rather weak, and almost incredible toward the end. It deals with a young aristocrat educated on a system laboriously virtuous; but youthful nature breaks the bonds, and complications follow. Most of the characters are of the higher ranks of society, and they are subtly analysed and elaborately featured. They move languidly across the story, speaking in a language as extraordinary, in its chiselled epigrammatic precision, as that of the creatures of Congreve or Oscar Wilde. The general style of the language is mannered in the extreme; it is a kind of elaborate literary confecctionery – it almost seems a pity on the part of the hasty novel- reader to swallow it in rude mouthful (Albert, 1990:402).”

“The next novel was Evan Harrington (1861), which contains some details of Meredith’s own family life; then followed Emilia in England (1864), the name of which was afterward altered to Sandra Belloni, in which the scene is laid partly in Italy. In Rhoda Fleming (1865) Meredith tried to deal with plebeian folk, but with indifferent success. The heroines of his later novels – Meredith was always careful to make his female characters at least as important as his male

ones – are aristocratic in rank and inclinations. Vittoria (1867) is a sequel to Sandra Belloni, and contains much spirited handling of the Italian insurrectionary movement. Then came The Adventures of Harry Richmond (1871), in which the scene is laid in England, and Beauchamp’s Career (1876), in which Meredith’s style is seen in its most exaggerated form.

In The Egoist (1879), his next novel, Meredith may be said to reach the climax of his art. The style is fully matured, with much less surface glitter and more depth and solidity; the treatment of the characters is close, accurate, and amazingly detailed; and The Egoist himself, Sir Willoughby Patterne, is a triumph of comic artistry. The later novels are of less merit. The Tragic Comedians (1880) is chaotic in plot and overdeveloped in style; and the same faults may be urged against Diana of the Crossways (1885), though it contains many beautiful passages; One of our Conquerors (1891) is nearly impossible in plot and style, and The Amazing Marriage (1895) is not much better (Albert 1990:403).”

4.2.2. Thomas Hardy (1840-1928).

Following Albert (1990:434), “Hardy was born at Upper Bockhampton, in the county of Dorset. He was descended from Nelson’s Captain Hardy, and was the son of a builder. He was educated at a local school and later in Dorchester, and his youth was spent in the countryside around that town, where shortly afterward he began to study with an architect. In 1862 he moved to London as a pupil of the architect Sir Arthur Blomfield. His first published work was the rather sensational Desperate Remedies, which appeared anonymously in 1871. In the following year the success of Under the Greenwood Tree established him as a writer, and soon afterward he abandoned architecture for literature as a profession. Most of his writing life was spent in his native ‘Wessex,’ where his heart lies buried, though his ashes have a place among the great in Westminster Abbey. In 1910 he was awarded the Order of Merit.”

Coinciding with the end of the long reign of Queen Victoria and of the stability which the country had so long enjoyed, attention was diverted to a period of sweeping social reform and unprecedented progress. The main features of Hardy’s novels were his subjects, which depicted human beings facing up to the onslaughts of a malign power, the man as an individual, and a pessimist view of the period; his treatment of themes, which showed Hardy’s concerns on his philosophy of life, coincidence, and the suffering of his characters; similarly, his characters are mostly ordinary men and women living close to the soil, briefly sketched as country type individuals, and their actions being told with a pithy humour.

The art of Thomas Hardy was his poetry, but after his marriage he put it aside to earn a living as a novelist. So, with respect to his novels, “the involved construction of Desperate Remedies (1871) gave place to the charming idyll Under the Greenwood Tree (1872), one of the lightest and most appealing of his novels. It was set in the rural area he was soon to make famous as Wessex. The success of this book, though great, was eclipsed by that of the ironical A Pair of Blue Eyes, which appeared in Tinsley’s Magazine in 1873; and the following year (1874) saw the first of the great novels which have made him famous, Far from the Madding Crowd , a tragi-comedy set in Wessex. The rural background of the story is an integral part of the novel, which reveals the emotional depths which underlie rustic life.”

Next, “The Hand of Ethelberta (1876), an unsuccessful excursion into comedy, was followed by the deeply moving The Return of the Native (1878), a study of man’s helplessness before the malignancy of an all- powerful Fate. The victims, Clym Yeobright and Eustacia Vye, are typical of Hardy’s best characters, and the book is memorable for its fine descriptions of Egdon Heath, which plays an important part in the action. Then, in quick succession, came The Trumpet Major (1880), A Laodicean (1881), and Two on a Tower (1882) before Hardy produced his next masterpiece, The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), another study of the inexorable destiny which hounds man to his downfall. The chief character, Michael Henchard, is clearly conceived and powerfully drawn, the rustic setting of Casterbridge is skilfully protrayed, and the book contains some memorable scenes, including the opening one of the wife-auction at the fair (Albert,


“The rural setting is even more strikingly used in The Woodlanders (1887), the tragic story of Giles Winterbourne and Marty South, two of Hardy’s most noble figures. Then, separated by The Well-Beloved (1892, reissued 1897), came Hardy’s last and greatest novels, Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1895), both of which, by their frank handling of sex and religion, aroused the hostility of conventional readers. They seem modest enough by the standards of to-day, but Tess of the D’Urbervilles was rejected by two publishers and originally appeared in a somewhat expurgated version, and the outcry which followed the appearance of Jude the Obscure led Hardy in disgust to abandon novel-writing, though at the height of his powers.

In these two books we have the most moving of Hardy’s indictments of the human situation; both contain unforgettable scenes; the studies of Tess and Sue are two of his finest portrayals of women, and the character of Jude surpasses in depth of insight anything Hardy had previously achieved. In addition to his full- length novels Hardy published the following series of short stories – Wessex Tales (1888), A Group of Noble Dames (1891), Life’s Little Ironie s (1894), and A Changed Man, The Waiting Supper and other Tales (1913). He is not so much at home in

the short story, and these collections live for the accasional powerful tale rather than as a whole

(Albert, 1990:435-6).”

4.2.3. Henry James (1843-1916).

Following Albert (1990:438), “Henry James came of a wealthy and cultured American family, was born in New York, and was educated in America and Europe before going to Harvard to read law (1862). He was a friend of the New England group of writers – among them James Russell Lowell, H. W. Longfellow, and William Dean Howells. It was a contributor to Howells’ Atlantic Monthly and other American magazines that James began his career as a writer. By the late 1860’s the fascination of the older European civilization was making itself felt, and after spending much time in Europe he settled there in 1875, adopting London as his new home. There he lived until 1807, when he moved to Rye, where he spent the rest of his life.”

Hardy’s novels had a moral content reflected in his technique. As he matured his technique developed from an elementary to an all-absorbing one, where the study of the subtleties of motive and the delicacies of emotional reaction were present. Also, his attention to detail improved as well as a devious method of exposition; regarding his subjects, they are to be found in this own life: the charm of an older civilization, the impact of one type of society upon the product of another, the portraits of people’s lives, a sophisticated and intellectual society, and the identification of the good with the beautiful and artistic sensibility; with respect to his characters, he is primarily interested in a character developing as part of a social group, usually intellectuals like himself, sensitive, refined, sophisticated, controlling impulse by reason, and endowed with a faculty for acute self-analysis; finally, his style is defined as superb due to his quest for the exact word, the perfect image, the delicately suggestive rhythm, and an excellent dialogue.

Regading his works, “James was a prolific writer. Novels, short stories, travel sketches, literary criticism, autobiography flowed from his pen with a regularity that is surprising in one who was, above all things, a consummate artist. His chief novels fall broadly into three groups. Beginning with Roderick Hudson (1875) we have four novels, all of them simpler and more straightforward in technique than his mature work, and these deal with the contrast between the young American civilizationa and the older European culture. The other three of this group are The American (1876-1877), The Europeans (1878), and The Portrait of a Lady (1881). This last is much the best of his early novels, and in its subtle character analysis and careful craftsmanship it looks forward to the James of the later periods (Albert, 1990:438).”

“Then come three novels mainly devoted to the sutdy of the English character, The Tragic Muse (1890), The Spoils of Poynton (1897), and The Awkward Age (1899), of which The Spoils of Poynton, a relatively short novel, shows most clearly the development of his methods. The higwater mark of this career was reached in the three novels, The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903), and The Golden Bowl (1904), in which, turning again to the theme of the contrast between European and American cultures, he achieves a subtlety of character-study, a delicacy of perception, and an elaboration of artistic presentation which rank them high among modern novels.

They do, however, make very heavy demands upon the concentration, alertness, and sensibility of the reader and have, therefore, never been generally popular. James also wrote some excellent studies of American life in Washington Square (1881), and The Bostonians (1886); a beautifully told and deeply moving study of a child’s mind in What Maisie Knew (1897); and two works which he left unfinished at his death, The Sense of the Past and The Ivory Tower, both of which were published posthumously in 1917.

Of the short story James was an acknowledged master. To his credit he has almost a hundred tales, which began with his earliest contributions to American magazines and continued well into the middle of his writing life. Of them all The Turn of the Screw (1898) is probably the best known, but his interest in the occult is seen to be strong in The Altar of the Dead, The Beast in the Jungle, The Birthplace, and other Tales (1909). Other stories appeared in The Madonna of the Future and other Tales (1879), The Aspern Papers and other Stories (1888), Terminations (1895), and The Two Magics (1898).

His autobiographical writings were A Small Boy and Others (1913), Notes of a Son and Brother (1914), and the posthumous fragment, Terminations (1917) –not to be confused with the short story of that name. His letters, published in 1920, his Notes on Novelists (1914), and the essay, The Art of Fiction (1884), are of the utmost importance to the student of James, and further light is thrown upon his work by The Notebooks of Henry James (1947) (Albert, 1990, 438-439).”

4.2.4. Joseph Conrad (1857-1924).

Jósef Teodor Konrad Naleçz Korzeniowski was born in the Ukraine. His father Apollo Korzeniowski was an aristocrat, a poet and a translator of English and French literatures, so Joseph read Polish and French versions of English novels with his father. When he was seven,

his mother died of tuberculosis and his father lived in exile until 1869, when Czarist authorities permitted him to move south. Yet, after that remove, his father also died when young Conrad was just eleven, He was then adopted by his mother’s uncle, the indulgent Tadeusz Bobrowski.

Educated at Cracow, he was intended for the university, but at the age of seventeen he was determined to go to sea (1874). Actually, he went to Marseilles in he began a long period of adventure at sea where he joined the French merchant marine. Young Conrad was implicated in a Carlist conspiracy to place the Duke of Madrid on the Spanish throne. After a suicide attempt, Conrad joined the British merchant service in 1878 and by 1885 he had his master mariner’s cerfificate, commanding his own ship, Otago.

In 1886 he was given British citizenship and he changed officially his name to Joseph Conrad. In the ten years that followed, before ill-health caused him to leave the sea in 1894, he had spent twenty years roaming the world in said and steam ships. Conrad sailed to many parts of the world, including Australia, various ports of the Indian Ocean, Borneo, the Malay states, South America, and the South Pacific Island.

Since Conrad did not find shore-life easy, he travelled to the Belgian Congo in 1890. He sailed in Africa up the Congo River, and the journey provided much material for his novel Heart of Darkness. His expedition had left him with malarial gout, which afflicted his wrist so much that he often found writing painful. However, he felt attracted again by the fabled East Indies which became the setting of many of his stories. He sailed between Singapore and Borneo, voyages that gave him an unrivaled background of mysterious creeks and jungle for the tales that he would write after 1896, when he retired from the sea to settle in Ashford, Kent, with his new wife, Jessie Chambers. By 1894 Conrad’s sea life was over. During the long journeys he had started to write and Conrad decided to devote himself entirely to literature. At the age of 36

Conrad settled down in England.

Conrad sold the American screen rights to his fiction in 1919 and hence, the most famous adaptations made by Alfred Hitchcock’s The Sabotage (1936), based on The Secret Agent (1097), Richard Brooks’s Lord Jim (1964) and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979), based on Heart of Darkness. Yet, he did not like to work for the film business, and did not know about screenwritings since the studios rejected his scripts. Last years of his life were shadowed by rheumatism. He refused an offer of knighthood in 1924 as he had earlier declined honorary degrees from five universities. Conrad died of a heart attack on August 3, 1924 and was buried in Canterbury.

Regarding his style, although Conrad is known as a novelist, he tried his hand also as a playwright. His first one-act play was not success and the audience rejected it. But afte r

finishing the text he learned the existence of the Censor of the Plays, which inspired his satirical essay about the obscure civil servant. Conrad was an Anglophile who regarded Britain as a land which respected individual liberties. As a writer he accepted the verdict of a free and independent public, but associated this official figure of censorship to the atmosphere of the Far East and the ‘mustiness of the Middle Ages’, which shouldn’t be part of the twentieth-century England (Magnusson & Goring, 1990).

Following Alfred (1990:444), “Conrad’s prose style is one of the most individual and readily recognizable in English, not, as might be expected in a Pole, for its eccentricities, but for its full use of the musical potentialities of the language. His careful attention to grouping and rhythm and to such technical devices as alliteration enables him, at his best, to achieve a prose that is akin to poetry. When he writes below his best he can become over-ornamental, self-conscious, and artificially stylized”.

Among other features of this writing style, we may mention his subjects, namely about adventure in an unusual or exotic setting due to his experiences in the sea and the exploration of Africa and East Indies; his characters, both men and women, are presented in brief, illuminating flashes and who are vital individuals. They are rarely commonplace and some of his best are villains as Kurtz in The Heart of Darkness; his view of life, out of which Conrad had a profound sense of the tragedy of life and the man’s struggle agains hostile forces; finally, he had a traditional direct narrative method, and the oblique method, by means of which he presents his material in an easy, conversational manner through the medium of a spectator, and gradually he builds up a picture of the situation by brief sense impressions (Albert, 1990).

Among his early novels, we find that the two first works were based on his experiences of Malaya, thus Almayer’s Folly (1895); An Outcast of the Islands (1896), where he presents a vivid tropical background and a study of a white man whose moral stamina was sapped by the insidious influence of the tropics; his third early work was The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’ (1897), a moving story oflife on board ship, remarkable for a full of romantic description in a powerful atmosphere of mystery and brooding.

His next work was Tales of Unrest (1898), which contains five stories, and was followed by Lord Jim: a Tale (1900). This is one of the best of Conrad’s studies of men whose strength fails them in a moment of crisis, and is again a story of the sea. It is in this work that Conrad introduces for the first time his technique of oblique narrative, the story being told through the ironical Marlow, a character who frequently appears in later novels. Then he wrote Youth: A Narrative; and two other Stories (1902) and Typhoon, and Other Stories (1903), which contain seven tales which include some of Conrad’s most powerful work. In the former collection it is

remarkable The Heart of Darkness (1899) for an overwhelming sense of evil and corruption and for its excellent tropical background.

Influenced by Henry James, another Conrad’s finest work is Nostromo – A Tale of the Seaboard (1904), which shifts the scene to the coastline of Central America. It is a story of revolution and has many well-drawn portraits. Throughout his fiction Conrad is concerned with moral dilemmas, the isolation of the individual to be tested by experience, and the psychology of inner urges in both groups and individuals. This is reflected in his semi-autobiographical The Mirror of The Sea (1906), which is a series of essays based on his experiences in the oceans of the world and contains excellent pictures.

This work was followed by the popular detective story The Secret Agent – A Simple Tale (1907), “which, though it contains some one or two well-drawn figurs and suggests quite powerfully the atmosphere of the Underworld, is not one of his best” (Albert, 1990:442). The same may be said of the stories in A Set of Six (1908) and his tale of Russian revolutionaries, Under Western Eyes (1911), of which the best features are the character of Razumov and the atmosphere of fear. Next work, Twixt Land and Sea – Tales (1912) which contains three outstanding short stories: “Typhoon” and “The Shadow-Line” that describe the testing of human character under conditions of extreme danger and difficulty, and “Some Reminiscences” which testifies his high artistic aims.

Conrad uses fiction to analyze the macrocosm (world at large) by presenting objectively and scientifically a microcosm. His remoteness from the British reading public, and his consequent his lack of knowledge about what makes a popular novel, makes his stories all the more real. Conrad often maneuvers to keep the reader at a distance from the characters in order to view them objectively. For example, in writing “The Inn of the Two Witches” in the winter of 1912 for the London Pall Mall (1913) and New York Metropolitan (May, 1913) magazines he resorted to another “Chinese box” narrative technique, presumably written in the first person.

Then came Chance- A Tale in Two Parts (1914), written in the oblique method of story-telling. Here Marlow appears again as a narrator, but the story is also told from several other points of view. After Victory- An Island Tale (1915) and a further collection of four short stories, Within the Tides – Tales (1915), Conrad wrote The Shadow line- A Confession (1917), a short novel in which the suggestion of the supernatural is present. Other novels followed, such as The Rescue

– A Romance of the Shallows (1920), which is long but with moments of high excitement, and

shows and excellent picture of primitive men. The Arrow of Gold – A Story between Two Notes (1919) and The Rover (1923) are both set in a background of European history, and were not very successful.

In his late years, he wrote Suspense- A Napoleonic Novel (1925), which was unfinished at his death. Other works were published posthumously, such as Tales of Hearsay (1925), four stories, and Last Essays (1926). We shall finally mention in this group his autobiographical novels since they show the real Conrad and his own experiences. Thus, A Personal Record (1912) and Notes on Life and Letters (1921), relevant for Conrad’s views on his own art, and of two novels , The Inheritors- An Extravagant Story (1901) and Romance- A Novel (1903), in which he collaborated with Ford Maddox Hueffer.

4.2.5. Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936).

Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, India, and made a significant contribution to English Literature in various genres including poetry, short story and novel. His birth took place in an affluent family with his father holding the post of Professor of Architectural Sculpture at the Bombay School of Art and his mother coming from a family of accomplished women. He spent his early childhood in India where an “aya” took care of him and where under her influence he came in direct contact with the Indian culture and traditions.

Following Sullivan (1993), his parents decided to send him to England for education and so at the young age of five he started living in England with Madam Rosa, the landlady of the lodge he lived in, where for the next six years he lived a life of misery due to the mistreatment since he faced beatings and general victimization. Due to this sudden change in environment and the evil treatment he received, he suffered from insomnia for the rest of his life. This played an important part in his literary imagination (Sandison A.G.). His parents removed him from the rigidly Calvinistic foster home and placed him in a private school at the age of twelve. The English schoolboy code of honor and duty deeply affected his views in later life, especially when it involved loyalty to a group or a team.

Returning to India in 1882 he worked as a newspaper reporter for the Lahore Civil and Military Gazette and the Allahabad Pioneer (1882-1887), and a part-time writer and this helped him to gain a rich experience of colonial life which he later presented in his stories and poems. Later on, in 1907 Kipling won the Nobel prize in literature in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterized his writings. The death of both his children, Josephine and John, deeply affected his life.

Therefore, both these incidents left a profound impression on his life, which his works published in the subsequent years after their deaths displays. Between 1919 and 1932 he travelled

intermittently, and continued to publish stories, poems, sketches and historical works though his output dwindled. As he grew older his works display his preoccupation with physical and psychological strain, breakdown, and recovery. In 1936, plagued by illness, he passed away into the world beyond, leaving behind a legacy that will live for centuries to come (Sullivan, 1993).

Since Kipling wrote during the period known as the Victorian Age, his writing style show the main topics of the English and Western Literature of the time, thus conservatism, optimism and self-assurance both in prose and poetry. Though Kipling’s works achieved literary fame during his early years, as he grew older his works faced enormous amount of literary criticism. His works dealt with racial and imperialistic topics which attracted a lot of criticss, who condemned the fact that unlike the popular model of poetry, Kipling’ works did not have an underlying meaning to it and that interpreting it required no more than one reading.

As Kipling grew older his works, his popularity among the masses persisted without change. In fact due to his ability to relate to the layman as well as the literary elite through his works, he joined a select group of authors who reached a worldwide audience of considerable diversity. Kipling’s reputation started a revival course after T.S. Eliot’s essay on his works where Eliot describes the most salient feature of Kipling style: the “great verse” that sometimes unintentionally changes into poetry. In his lifetime Kipling went from the unofficial Poet Laureate of Great Britan to one of the most denounced poet in English Literary History. In contrast to the path his reputation took, Rudyard Kipling improved as a poet as his career matured and by the time of his death Kipling had compiled one of the most diverse collection of poetry in English Literature.

Since Kipling was an Imperialist, his main themes read about attitudes towards British rule in India. Kipling believed it was right and proper for Britain to “own” India and rule its people, and the possibility that this position might be questionable never seems to have crossed his mind. At the time he was writing there was a considerable ferment of revolt among Indians against British rule, and yet, he has shown, at points in Kim (1901) when in Chapter 3 he has an old soldier comment on the Great Mutiny of 1857, dismissing it as “madness”.

He was a prolific and versatile writer whose journalistic experience served him to great extent throughouthis career. His prose works, which include stories of Indian life, of children, and of animals are told with great vitality. He had an inventive faculty, a romantic taste for the adventurous and the supernatural, and an apparently careless, very colloquial style, which ensured for his work a popular reception. He also dealt with the superiority of the white race, of Britain’s undoubted mission to extend through her imperial policy the benefits of civilization to the rest of the world. He believed in the progress and value of the machine, found and echo in

the hearts of many of his readers since they lived the late consequences of the industrial revolution.

He presented a really good picture of Anglo-Indian and of native life. His portraits of soldiers, natives and of children were vivid and real, with a soft characterization. His background is clearly visualized and realistically presented since he had a great ability to create an atmosphere of mystery. The apparent carelessness of his style was a deliberate and skilfully cultivated technique.

Kipling’s works span over five decades both as poetry and prose. Regarding the former, in 1886 he published his first volume of poetry, Departmental Ditties and other poems followed, such as Barrack-room Balladas (1892), The Seven Seas (1896), The Five Nations (1903), Inclusive Verse 1885-1918 (1919) and Poems, 1886 -1929 (1930). Over the immediately following years he published some of his most exquisite works including his most acclaimed poem Recessional.

Regarding prose works, between 1887 and 1889 he published six volumes of short stories set in and concerned with the India he had come to know and love so well. When he returned to England he found himself already recognized and acclaimed as a brilliant writer. Earlier prose works include Plain Tales from the Hills (1888), Soldiers Three (1888), The Phantom Rickshaw (1888), Wee Willie Winkie (1888), Life’s Handicap (1891), Many Inventions (1893), The Jungle Book (1894), Captains Courageous (1897), The Days’s Work (1898), and his most famed novel, Kim (1901). Other works followed, thus Just-so Stories for Little Children (1910), Debits and Credits (1926), and Limits and Renewals (1932).

4.2.6. Other lesser novelists.

Other lesser novelists, though worth mentioning, are Samuel Butler (1835-1902), George Moore (1852-1933), George Robert Gissing (1857-1903), and Enoch Arnold Bennett (1867- 1931), among others.


Literature, and therefore, literary language is one of the most salient aspect of educational activity. In classrooms all kinds of literary language (poetry, drama, novel, prose –novel, short

story, minor fiction- , periodicals) either spoken or written, is going on for most of the time. Yet, handling literary productions in the past makes relevant the analysis of ‘literature in the Victorian period and, in particular, the rise of one of the most relevant literary forms for students: the novel, as well as periodicals, poems, essays, and so on. Hence it makes sense to examine the historical background of Britain within the nineteenth and early twentieth century so as to provide a particular period of time with an appropriate context.

Currently, action research groups attempt to bring about change in classroom learning and teaching through a focus on literary production under two premises. First, because they believe learning is an integral aspect of any form of activity and second, because education at all levels must be conceived in terms of literature and history. The basis for these assumptions is to be found in an attempt, through the use of historical events, to develop understanding of students’ shared but diverse social and physical environment.

Learning involves a process of transformation of participation itself which has far reaching implications on the role of the teacher in the teaching- learning relationship. This means that literary productions are an analytic tool and that teachers need to identify the potential contributions and potential limitations of them before we can make good use of the historical events which frame the literary period. So, literature productions may be easily approached by means of the subjects of History, Language and Literature by establishing a paralelism with the Spanish one (age, literature forms, events). Since literature may be approached in linguistic terms, regarding form and function (morphology, lexis, structure, form) and also from a cross- curricular perspective (Sociology, History, English, French, Spanish Language and Literature), Spanish students are expected to know about the history of Britain and its influence in the world.

In addition, one of the objectives of teaching the English language is to provide good models of almost any kind of literary productions for future studies. Following van Ek & Trim (2001), ‘the learners can perform, within the limits of the resources available to them, those writing (and oral) tasks which adult citizens in general may wish, or be called upon, to carry out in their private capacity or as members of the general public’ when dealing with the ir future regarding personal and professional life.

Moreover, nowadays new technologies may provide a new direction to language teaching as they set more appropriate context for students to experience the target culture. Present-day approaches deal with a communicative competence model in which first, there is an emphasis on significance over form, and secondly, motivation and involvement are enhanced by means of

new technologies. Hence literary productions and the history of the period may be approched in terms of films and drama representations in class, among others, and in this case, by means of books (novels: historical, terror, descriptive), paper (essays), among others.

The success partly lies in the way literary works become real to the users. Some of this motivational force is brought about by intervening in authentic communicative events. Otherwise, we have to recreate as much as possible the whole cultural environment in the classroom by means of novels, short stories, documentaries, history books, or their family’s stories. This is to be achieved within the framework of the European Council (1998) and, in particular, the Spanish Educational System which establishes a common reference framework for the teaching of foreign languages where students are intended to carry out several communication tasks with specific communicative goals, for instance, how to locate a literary work within a particular historical period.

Analytic interpretation of texts in all genres should become part of every literary student’s basic competence (B.O.E., 2004). There are hidden influences at work beneath the textual surface: these may be sociocultural, inter and intratextual. The literary student has to discover these, and wherever necessary apply them in further examination. The main aims that our currently educational system focuses on are mostly sociocultural, to facilitate the study of cultural themes, as our students must be aware of their current social reality within the European framework.


Since literature reflects the main concerns of a nation at all levels, it is extremely important for students to be aware of the close relationship between History and Literature so as to understand the main plot of a novel, short story, or any other form of literary work. In this unit, we have particularly approached the period of the Victorian Age and Imperialism as a time of great changes, with an atmosphere of well-fare and confidence at the beginning of the century and towards the end, with an atmosphere of decadence.

The aim of this unit was to provide a useful introduction to the Victorian novel, which is to be framed beyond Queen Victoria’s reign, namely between 1837 and 1901. Therefore, in Chapter 2 we have provided a historical background for the Vic torian novel in Great Britain, and in doing so, we have considered relevant to analyse some key events related to this period, thus the concept of (1) Industrial Revolution as a a model of historical transformation in general terms,

and similarly, we shall analyse (2) the development of the British Empire (already in the second phase of imperial expansion) and its main consequences in the nineteenth-century Great Britain.

In Chapter 3 , we have offered the literary background for the Victorian novel, which is known as the Victorian literature, by analysing (1) the main features of Victorian literature; (2) the literary division of Victorian literature into three periods, early, mid and late Victorian period; (3) the main literary forms of the time, thus (a) drama, (b), poetry and (c) prose; and within this latter, we shall examine the main concerns of the most relevant Victorian writers of the time within a literary context. In Chapter 4 we have offered a general account of the Victorian novel and, therefore, the life, style and main works of the most prominent Victorian novelists so as to conclude our study.

So far, we have attempted to provide the reader in this presentation with a historical background on the vast amount of literature productions in the Victorian period, and its further developments up to the nineteenth and twentieth century. This information is relevant for language learners, even 2nd year Bachillerato students, who do not automatically establish similiarities between British, Spanish and worldwide literary works. So, learners need to have these associations brought to their attention in cross-curricular settings. As we have seen, understanding how literature developed and is reflected in our world today is important to students, who are expected to be aware of the richness of English literature, not only in Great Britain but also in other English-speaking countries.


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Obligatoria en la Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia.

B.O.E. 2004. Consejería de Educación y Cultura. Decreto N.º 117/2004, de 23 de enero. Currículo de Bachillerato en la Comunidad

Autónoma de la Región de Murcia.

Council of Europe (1998) Modern Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. A Common European Framework of reference.

Escudero, A. 1988. La Revolución Industrial. Anaya.

Karl, F. 1960. A Reader’s Guide to Joseph Conrad . New York: Noonday.

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Sullivan, Z.T. 1993. Narratives of empire: the fictions of Rudyard Kipling . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Thoorens, Léon. 1969. Panorama de las literaturas Daimon: Inglaterra y América del Norte. Gran Bretaña y Estados Unidos de

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Publicado: octubre 21, 2015 por Santiago

Etiquetas: tema 50 inglés secundaria