Victorian Era

In the history of the United Kingdom,the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria’s reign,from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 Jenuary 1901. The era followed the Gergain period and the Edwardian period,the reign of Victoria’s son. In terms of moral sensibilites and political reforms, this period began associated with the Victorians the passage of the Reform Act 1832. This was a long period of prosperity for the British people, as profits got from the overseas Empire, as well as from industrial improvements and allowed a large, educated middle calss to develop.

There was a strong religious which organized to achieve the higher moral standards led by the nonconformist churches, such as the Methodist, and the Evangalical wing of the established Church of England. This era was a long period of peace, known as the Pax Britannica, economic and industrial consolidation and disrupted by the Crimean War.

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Britain decided to spread in Asia and Africa, which made the British Empire the largest empire in history. National self-confidence peaked. The Victorian era proved resistance to the rationalism that defined the Gorgian period and an increasing turn towards romanticism and even myticism with regard to religion,arts and social values.

Domestically the political agenda was increasingly liberal, with a number of shifts in political reform, imdustrial reform. The term Victorian morality is used to describe the nations of the period, which accepted hard work, honesty, a sense of duty. The Victorians did much to creat an increasingly inter- connected world, in which some people could speak of co-responsibility to make the world a better place. Victorians spoke about justice ending poverty or child-labor and about improving the quality of life, even if their practice was parochial, their vision was global.[1,   p.129]

Victorian literature is mainly written in English, during the reign of Queen Victoria. It was preceded by romanticism and followed by the modernism or realism. Victorian literature is largely characterized by the struggle of working people and the battle between right and wrong.

Victorian literature is known for its efforts to connect imagination and emotion for the convenience of art for ordinary people. The era forms a link and the movement between the writers of the romentic period and the modernist literature of the twentieth century. This century not only saw changes in the English literature but also in pieces of literature of countries like France, United States and Russia.[2]

The 19th century the novel become the leading form of literature english writers had perfected both closely-observed social satire and adventure stories. Victorian novels tend to be idealized portraits of difficult lives in which hard work, luck and love win out in the end. Writers tend to be improved nature with a central moral lesson at heart.

The Victorians are sometimes credited with ‘Inveting childhood’, partly via their efforts to stop child labour and the introduction of compulsory education. When children began to read, literature for young people became a grouth indusrty, with not only established writers producing works for children shuch as Dickens’ “A child history of England”.

Victorian Novel: there is a communion of interest between reader and writer. Novels became the most popular genre of literature and the main form of entertainment. Voctorian novels all have the same features creat a firm barrier between right and wrong, the voice of an omniscient narrator provided a comment on the plot. The plot was long and often complicated by sub plots. Writers performed deep analyses of the main character’s personality and the find chapter often dealt with retribution and punishment. Charles Dickens is considered one of the most prominent figures in litetature during the Victorian Era.[3] 

The Life Of Charles Dickens

Carles John Huffam Dickens was born in Portsmouth Hampshire, England on February 7, 1812. The house he was born in 13 Mile End Terrace, is now the Dickens Birthplace Museum and is today furnished more or less as it would have been at the time of his birth.

Dickens was christened on the 4th March 1812 at St Mary’s church and was named Charles, after his maternal grandfather, Charles Barrow, John, after his father, John Dickens and Huffam, after Christopher Huffam, who was a London friend of his father.

John Dickens was employed as a clerk in the Navy Pay office and his job meant that the family would have to move as, and where his employers saw fit to send him. As a result Charles’s first years were marked by a series of moves as his father was shuttled between various jobs with the Naval Pay office. Dickens first came to London in January 1815 when John was transferred to the Navy Pay office then located at Somerset House on Strand.

As the three year old boy absorbed the sights, smells and sound of the City, and his family settled into life in the Capital, no one could have known that, in later life, the name of Charles Dickens would become synonymous with London, and that he was destined to become the andisputed chronicler of its streets, buildings and people. On this occasion the family spent two years in London before another transfer saw John Dickens transferred to Chatham in Kent and, with this new move, Charles embarked upon what, by his own later admission, were to be the happiest years of his childhood.

Not only did his mother teach him the basies of reading but he was also enrolled at a local school where he was taught by a kindly local clergymen and schoolmaster by the name of William Giles. One of the pastimes that the young Charles felt great pleasure in during this ideal period of his childhood was going on long strolls with his father and exploring the bush Kent countryside that surrounded Chatham. He was particularly fond of strolling through the grounds of Cobham Hall, just outside Rochester, where he became enamouted with a large house that sat atop a hillside looking down on the on the park.

This fondness for the house, which was Gad’s Hill Place remained with him into adulthood and Dickens did indeed purchase the house in 1850 and, from 1860 untill his death in 1870, it became his principle residence. In 1822, John Dickens was transferred back to London and his income dropped dramatically. John Dickens had a dangerous habit of living beyond the family’s means. Eventually, John sent to prison for debt in 1824, when Charles was just 12 years old. John Dickens had been in the Marshalsea Debtors prison for 14 weeks when his mother died and left him a little money.

With this small inheritance ha was able to secure his release, although he wasn’t totally debt free. But he seems he have beem concerned by the misery his action had caused his son and, in 1825, he took Charles away from the blacking factory, and despite vociferous objection from Elizabeth, who wanted their son to continue bringing in a useful weekly wage, John sent him to school at Wellington House Academy on Hampstead Road. Dickens spent about two years at Wellington House Academy, before his father found himself in debt once more and the yound Charles was found employment as a clerk working for Ellis and Blackmore, a firm of solicitors in Gray London’s Gray’s Inn. [4, p 120]

This period would mark a turning point im his life for, while working for Ellis and Blackmore, he began to teach himself shorthand and, after 18 months, he felt sufficiently informed to set himself up as a shorthand recoder at Doctor’s Commoms, which used to stand close to St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London.

By 1830 eighteen year old Dickens had met with and fallen head over heels in love with a City bankers daughter by the name of Maria Beadnell. She was thirteen month older than him, capricious by nature and, for the next three year , she played with his feelings, even, there is evidence to suggest, agreeing to a clandestine engagment.

In 1832 Dickens started work as a reporter on his uncle Thomas Barrow’s newspaper The Mirror of Parliament. He was also playing with the idea of becoming an actor and was granted an audition as the Covent Garden Theatre. However, his love of the theatre and his wish to act stayed with for the rest of his life and, in later life l, he would enthusiastically perform and produce his fun theatricals and, from these, evolved his public reading tours from which he had become famous throughout the world by the time of his death in 1870.

Maria Beadnell’s family were beginning to disapprove of their daughter’s involvement with the young and impoverished reporter and, to get her way the from him, they sent her to finishing school in France. When she returned her enthusiasm for Dickens had cooled considerably and Dickens was devastated when, in May 1833, she ended their relationship.Dickens also fell in love with Hogarth’s daughter, Catherine, and, on 2nd April, 1836 the two were married at St Luke’s Church, Chelsea. After a brief honeymoon in Kent, Charles and Catherine Dickens settled into his palaces at Catherine’s 17-year- old sister, Mary Hogarth.

In January 1837, Catherine gave birth to their first child who they named Charles. By April 1837, the financial success of Pickwick Papers, coupled with the needs of his growing family caused Dickens to look for larger and grander premises for their family home and he took a lease on a house in Doughty Street where they were joined by Catherine’s younger sister Mary Hogarth Dickens developed an intense platonic relationship with his young sister-in-law and, for a time his houshold situation was truly peacful.

In January 1857 he directed and acted in Wilkie Collin’s play The Frozen Deep and as he researched professional actresses to play the female parts, he met the young actress Ellen Lawless Ternan who became his intimate friend and probably his lover. The following year Dickens formally separated from his wife.

His younger sister-in-law, Georgian Hogarth, became his housekeeper and gossips began to circulate that it was his affair with her that had caused his marital breakdown. By 1860 Gad’s Hill had become his principle residence and, over the next ten years, as he and Ellen Ternan became more involved with each other, his personal life became more and more enigmatic. It is possible that he took a house in France for Ellen and her mother, where he visited them frequently over the next few years, Dickens undertook several reading tours in America and England.

But his hearth was failing and by 1870 he looked considerably older then his 58 years. On 8 June 1870 Dickens suffered another stroke at his home after a full days work on Edwin Drood. Contrary to his with to be buried at Rochester Cathedral, he was to rest in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey. A printed epitaph circulated at the time of the funeral read: to the memory of Charles Dickens who died at his residence, Higham, near Rochester, Kent 9 June 1870, aged 58 years.

He was a sympathiser with the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed and by his death, one of England’s greatest writers is lost to the world.

His last words were: “ On the ground”, in response to his sister-in-law Georgina’s request that he lie down. On Sunday, 19 June 1870, five days after Dickens was buried in the Abbey, Dean Arthur Penrhyn Stanley delivered a memorial elegy, lauding “ The genial and louing humorist who we now mourn”. [5]

The Literary Work Of Charles Dickens

During his lifetime, Dickens was viewed as a popular entertainer of fecund imaginatiom, while later critics championed his mastery of prose, his endless invention of memorable characters and his powerful social sensibilities. The popularity of his novels and short stories during his lifetime and to the present is demostrated by the fact that none have ever gone out of print. Dickens played a major role in popularising the serialised novel. He is remembered by many as the greatest writer of his time. He is frequently referred to by his last name only even on first reference.

Dickens had written 15 novels, 5 novellas and hundreds of short stories. He had also written many non-fiction articles and lectured struggled vigorously for the rights of young children and their education. He had also worked for other social reforms. The literary success of Charles Dickens began with the publication of The Pickwick Papers serially in 1836. He had become an international literary celebrity within a few years.

He became renouned for the humor and satiric tone in his works. He also had a keen observation of the character and the society. Dickens’s novels were initialy serialised in weekly and monthly magazines then reprinted in standard book formats. The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, The old curiosity shop, David Copperfield, Great expectations and so on are his famous books.

Dickens favoured the style of the 18th century picaresque novels that he found in abundance on his father’s shelves. According to Ackroyd other than these, perhaps the most important literary influence on him was derived from the fables of The Arabian Nights.[6]

The novels written by Dickens were published in monthly or weekly installments. This pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction that was to become the dominant mode for novel publication in the Victorian Era. Since this allowed the time for audience reviews, Dickens could modify the plot and develop the characters on the feedback.

His writing style is marked by a profuse linguistic creativity. Satire, flourishing in his gift for caricature, is his forte. Dickens worked intensively on developing arrsting names for his characters that would reverberate with associations for his readers and assist the development of motifs in the storyline, giving what one critic calls an “allegorical impetus” to the novels’ meanings. His literary style is also a mixture of fantasy and realism.

His satires of British aristocratic snobbery he calls one characters the “Noble Refrigerator”- are often popular. Authors frequently draw their portraits of characters from people have known in real life. David Copperfield is regarded by many as a veiled autobiography of Dickens. Most of major Dickens’s major novels were first written in monthly or weekly instalments in journals such as Master Humphreys Clock and Househlod Words later reprinted in book form.[7]

From my point of view Dickens’s novels were among other things works of social commentary. He was a fierce critic of the poverty and society. Dickens’s first full novel, Oliver Twist shocked readers with the images of poverty and crime.

Dickens is often described as using idealised characters and highly sentimental scenes to contrast with his caricatures and the ugly social truths he reveals. The story of Nell Trent in The Old Curiosity Shop was received as extraordinarily moving by contemporary readers but viewed as ludicrously sentimental by Oscar Wilde.

Dickens stands today as a brillient, innovative and sometimes flawed novelist whose stories and characters have become not only literary archetypes but also part of the public imagination.

Influence Of Charles Dickens In The Victorian Era Literature

Charles Dickens is regarded as one of the most prominent figures in literature, due to his work during the 19th century, referred to as the Victorian Era. Throughout his childhood and adolescence Dickens endured harrowing experiences that significantly sculpted his approach to writing. The impact of these experiences are apparent in his various works, in which he utilizes literary techniques such as satire and dark humor, in order to provide social commentary on the various flaws of Victorian Era society.

Charles Dickens’ literary perspective was significantly influenced by the emotional and psychological effects of the time he spent at Warren’s Blacking Factory, his shattered relation ship with his mother and the individualism he observed as a Parliamentary journalist, all of which are evident in his Victorian Era literary work, Oliver Twist.

Dickens’ first significant experience that influenced his novel, Oliver Twist, occurred when he was forced to work at Narren’s Blacking Factory. At the tender age of eleven, Dickens had to work in a bootblacking factory in order to support his family, after his father, John Dickens was sent to debtors’ prison in London, England. In fact, Dickens was himself influential in the modification of the “Poor Laws”, an underlying subject of his novels Oliver Twist and his novella.

A Christmas Carol in which Dickens describes the squalid, dirty conditions of London in vivid detail. Due to the “Poor Laws” established in England in 1834, Dickens was completely separated from his family and brutality administered by the workhouse officials. Government bureaucrats ensured that having the poor work at these workhouses would reduce the cost of governing the poor, alleviate beggars, and encourage the poor to work harder to support themselves, however, Dickens championed the denunciation of the “Poor Laws”, with the satirical nature  of Oliver Twist. Dickens demonstrates, within his novel Oliver Twist, the overall social attitude towards the poor in which they are considered inherently evil and are subsequently regarded as criminals.

For example,in chapter two of Oliver Twist, Oliver makes a daring statement declaring “Please, Sir, I want some more”, referring to the gruel served for support at the workhouse. Dickens continues to describe how Oliver is given even less gruel, confined to a small coal celler, and publically beaten. In addition to the physical abuse that he along with many other poor workhouse children had to bear, Dickens was also psychologically tormented, where those who were his caretakers devalued his self-worth.[8]

In his novel Bleak House Dickens sharply criticizes utilitarianism, pointing to the difference between the ideal and the reality. He belived that in practical terms, the pursuit of an unimaginative, totally rationalized society let to misery. Further, in his novel Bleak House, Dickens satirizes the injustice of delay in court proceedings. Dickens’s attack upon the flaws of the British judiciary system is based partly on his own experiences as a law clerk as a young man, as a well in part on his experiences as a Chancery lifigant as he sought to enforce his copyright on his earlier books. In Great Expectations he continues his attack upon the curruption of the judical system that has a justice for the rich and a different one for the poor. An advocate for the lower middle class, often Dickens’s moral characters come not from what he considered thoughtless upper class, but from the commoners.

Certainly, the writings of Charles Dickens were influential in effecting awareness of social conditions as well as reform of these often deplorable conditions.[9]

John Wolffe (1997). Religion in Victorian Britain: Culture and empire. Volume V. Manchester University Press.
Walter E. Houghton, The Victorian Frame of Mind, 1830–1870 (1957)
Cain, Lynn (2008). Dickens, family, authorship: psychoanalytic perspectives on kinship and creativityChesterton, G.K. 2010. Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens
Slater, Michael. 2009. Charles Dickens: A Life Defined by Writing. Yale University Press.
"Charles John Huffam Dickens." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . 9 Nov. 2018
 "What is the importance of Charles Dickens in the Victorian Era's literary context?" eNotes, 16 Oct. 2011, Accessed 9 Nov. 2018.

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