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Home » » Evaluate the contribution of the women novelists of the Victorian Period.
The Victorian Period is a great period of women novelists. Some women novelists have played a very significant part in the development of English novel in this age. As a matter of fact, their achievements in many respects are greater than men. They build up a new palace of novel whose foundation stone has been laid by Jane Austen in the previous period. They want to share with the trends and the progress and prosperity of the era. They are able to come out and represent themselves in this sphere. Among the women novelists, Bronte Sisters and George Eliot are the greatest. Bronte sisters are Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte and Anne Bronte. The first two of them are the novelists of genius.
women novelist of the victorian period

At first, we shall consider Charlotte Bronte as a Victorian  novelist. She has written Jane Eyre, Shirley and Villette.Her first novel, The Professor is based on her personal experience during her stay in boarding school in Brussels. But Jane eyre is her best-known novel. It is famous  for its power and subtlety displayed in the portrait of a governess, Jane Eyre by name. She is loved and finally was won by Mr. Rochester. The novel links a highly exciting and romantic story to a sober and honest realism. It's heroine is a new creation. She is a free human being with an independent will. She is willing to take full responsibility for her life. Modern woman enters fiction for the first time and struggles with the fundamental problems posed by love and sex through the portrayal of Jane Eyre.

Shirley has a greater variety of characters including the delightful heroine. In the novel, Charlotte projects the image of her own sister, Emily in the heroine. Here she shows a more normal and less passionate portrayal of life. Again the theme of her novel is the love story of a young girl. Villette is another novel of the past. It is in large measure autobiographical.It describes the love between Lucy Snowe and M. Paul.

Emily has written less than her sister, Charlotte Bronte.But she surpasses her elder sister in sheer genius. Wuthering Heights which is unique in English literature is her only novel. Because she died the year after its publication. In this novel. she has created a stark passionate world. She writes a tragedy of love, at once fantastic and powerful, savage and moving. She shows the ties that bind Catherine to Heathcliff are beyond sex. Wuthering Heights is excellent in the depiction of their destructive passion. It is a sharp representation of their love- hatred and the fury of vengeance. It has also a symmetrical pattern. In other words, the novel possesses stasis disintegration, Heathcliff's revenge and the final reconciliation. Symbolism plays a vital part in it. The author shows a sharp contrast between the two houses-Wuthering Heights and Thruscross Grange and their dwellers.

Mary Ann Evans has written under the pen name of George Eliot. She is the most learned novelist and short story writer of all the women novelists of the 19th century. In her novels, we do not find the passionate intensity and ardour of the novels of Charlotte Bronte and Emily Bronte. But she portrays intellectual and moral passion with consummate mystery. She came under the influence of Herbert Spencer and G. H. Lewis. She lived with them. Eliot has written Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Romola, Felix Holt Middlemarch, and Daniel Deronda. Her novel, Adam Bede announces her arrival of a new writer of the highest calibre. It gives an excellent picture of English country life among the humbler classes.

In The Mill on the Floss. Eliot deals with the life of brother and a sister presented with great sensitiveness. In Romola, she writes. a historical novel of the Italian Renaissance. Felix Holt is a novel of Radicalism of the Reform Bill. It shows the penalties which Eliot has paid for the loss of her early spontaneity. In Middlemarch, she constructs one of the novels gives us an excellent picture of the rural life. They have sense of rich humour which is skilfully blended with tragedy. Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe is a shorter narrative. Here the novelist has presented the torments of a miser with penetrating insight. She has drawn a picture of working class people of industrialized England. The themes of the novel are common to all her fiction. The character of Silas Marner has been painted with great care and affection.

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell is also a famous novelist in the Victorian Period. She has composed many novels along with the biography of Charlotte Burton North and South, Ruth and Cranford. Almost all her novels deal with the industrial state of Lancashire and full of pity for the working class victims of financial self-seeking. She proves herself to be a tender, gentle and amused humorist in Cranford. In addition to Charlotte, Emily, Eliot and Mrs. Gaskell, there were other women novelists in the Victorian Period. They are Mary Russel Mitford, Anna Elizabeth Bray, Lady G. Fullerton, Ellen Middleton, Catherine Gore and Mrs. Trollope. They were popular novelists as well. But they left little impress on the development of the English novel.

The importance of Bronte-Sisters is immense in the history of English novel. The arrival of a new writing is felt in English literature with their writing. They are pioneers in English fiction of romantic type. They are detached observer of society or group of people. They have painted sorrows and suffering of an individual. They have presented a new conception of the heroine as a woman of vital strength and passionate feeling. Their works are imaginative, emotional and intellectual. But the narrow range of their novels is unmistakable. On the other hand, George Eliot is described by David Cecil as the first modern novelist. She makes English novel intellectual. Novels before her were instinctive. Secondly, she gives to English novel a depth psychological realism. She, for the first time, analyses the characters with a deep penetrating insight. She dissects their motives and makes a philosophical criticism of life. Eliot is able to give her novels a well-knit structural pattern and a dramatic unity.

In fine, we can evaluate our discussion by saying that novels of the Victorian Period have ushered a new era in the history of English literature. Women novelists have played a very significant role in this respect. The contribution of Bronte- Sisters is unforgettable. Emily Bronte has written only one novel which gives a new dimension in English novel. But Charlotte Bronte writes several novels which portray the personal life of women and their dreams and expectations. Besides them, we have gotten George Eliot who is one of the greatest women novelists of the Victorian Age. Most of her novels have drawn a rural life. Here she combines together characters and incidents,  humorous and tragic situations. Her treatment of reality makes her a prolific and successful novelist. But we should not forget that the women novelists had to write using their pen name because of the adverse situation.


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