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 The Victorian Period (1832-1901)

The Victorian  Period (1832-1901) consists mainly of Wuthering Heights , In Memoriam, Victorian spirit ,George Eliot, Victorian compromise,  The Oxford Movement,  Bronte- Sisters  important short notes etc. Here, these things are discussed in small areas. 

Wuthering Heights 

Wuthering Heights is the novel of Emily Bronte published in 1842-It is unique in the English novel and is regarded as the crown of the Victorian women novelists. It is regarded as a Gothic novel full of violent passion. The central figure of the novel is Heathcliff who is the present owner of the house Wuthering Heights. He is severe, gloomy and brutal in aspect and atmosphere firmly rooted in local tradition and custom.In Wuthering Heights, we find that Mrs. Nelly Dean is the narrator who is also presented as a very important character. Through her narration, we are able to meet all the characters in the novel. Mr. Earnshaw, Mrs. Earnshaw, Hindley, Edgar Linton, Isabella Linton, Hareton, Little Cathy and others play significant role in the novel. Heathcliff is a foundling and is found by Mr. Earnshaw in Liverpool. In Withering Heights, he is brought up as one of the children of the family. A passionate love springs up between him and Catherine, the daughter of Mr. Earnshaw. Once Catherins declares "Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind; not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself but as my own being." Such kind of passion grows in the minds of the lovers. Being continuously beaten by Hindley and Edgar Linton and being frustrated by the words of Catherine, Heathcliff flees from the Wuthering Heights. After three years, he returns and marries Isabella. Because Catherine has already been married to Edgar Linton who is the owner of the house Thrushcross Grange. Latter on, he manages to become the owner of both the houses. He is able to take revenge upon Edgar Linton and Hindley. It is said that he meets the soul of Catherine in every night after her death.

In Memoriam

In Memoriam"In Memoriam" has been written as an elegy by Alfred Tennyson in 1850 on the death of his friend, Arthur Henry Hallam. It was composed over seventeen years from 1833. Tennyson has recorded his grief in a series of one hundred and thirty one short poems in iambic tetrametre quatrains rhyming abba. "In Memoriam" is the progress from bitter grief and doubt to a sense of certainty and hopefulness that the universe is dominated by love. Stages in the gradual rise of spirit are marked by Christmas seasons. But the rise is interrupted even the middle section by torments of heart. Chiefly responsible for the gloom is the scientific depiction of man as a misbegotten animal in an indifferent universe.Tennyson accepts evolution as divinely ordained. He believes that universe is moving to a divine purpose. Mankind will evolve on earth towards the higher man. "In Memoriam" is more than a pastoral elegy like Milton's "Lycidas" or Shelley's  "Adonais". It gained the ears of the Victorian public for its philosophical preachment. Tennyson is known as the Victorian oracle and secures the poet-laureateship. Queen Victoria once told Tennyson, " Next to the Bible In Memoriam is my comfort ". Many humanists of the age find in the poem the definite answer to the quarrel of science versus faith. The Modern Age ignores the philosophical preachings of " In Memoriam". But it is praised for its certain sections because of their eloquent lyricism.

Victorian Spirit 

The Victorian Period is the period of ism, progress and prosperity. Among the Victorian poets, Alfred Tennyson has highlighted the Victorian spirit in his poems. But other two famous poets, Matthew Arnold and Robert Browning almost fail to represent the spirit of the age in their poems. They are different from Alfred Tennyson and other Victorian Poets.Tennyson is generally regarded as the most complete and comprehensive poet of the Victorian Age. His poetry represents the social, political, moral, philosophical and religious problems of his time. Actually, in every age, there is someone either poet or the other who represents in his writing the very spirit of that age, and prosperity in home and abroad. In this very period, the expansion of the British empire spread over a very large portion of the world. The English were prospering and growing richer and richer everyday. This prosperity was seen particularly in the industrial and the scientific fields. In the national life, there was the moderation in politics, refined culture, religious liberalism and the rise of democracy. Compromise and construction were very keen in the national life. All the things were found and reflected in the life of the Victorian people known as the Victorian spirit.

George Eliot 

 The Victorian Period is a famous period of women novelists. Some women novelists have played a very significant part in the development of English novel in this age. George Eliot whose real name is Mary Ann Evans is the greatest novelist and short story writer of all the women novelists of the 19th Century.Eliot has written Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Romola, Felix Holt, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda. 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 Spenser and G.H. Lewis. She lived with them. In Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe, Eliot 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 her novels are common to all her fiction. Different critics have criticized Eliot from different points of view. David Cecil has regarded her as the first modern novelist. George Eliot makes English novel intellectual. Novels before her were instinctive. Secondly, she gives to English novel a depth of psychological realism. Her characterization is remarkable in the history of English novel. Eliot is able to give her novels a well-knit structural pattern and a dramatic unity.

Victorian compromise

We know that the Victorian Period is the period of progress, prosperity and ism. It is an era of social change. The people of that age were facing several problems in their life. They were suffering from doubts, unrest and confusion in their souls. The Industrial Revolution, the rise of democracy and the advancement of science were the chief force of spirit of the Victorian Age. The literature of the Victorian Period is also influenced by these spirit. It reflects peace, order and stability. Its ideals are "Compromise" and "Construction". A dualism of reason and emotion, materialism and mysticism, religion and science or faith and doubts is very common in this period. Similarly, we find that a compromise between the old and the new, between freedom and restrictions is also noteworthy. Actually, the literature of this period bears the influence of Romanticism. Thus Romanticism is fusioned with intellectualism. Morality or prudery is the center of all thoughts. However, we see that the Victorians are mediocre. They always desired to discover some compromise which would none the less soothe their conscience and restore their faith. But this compromise was not outraging but their intellect and their reason completely. So, the Victorian compromise means a search for a temporary golden mean.

The Oxford Movement 

Oxford movement is a religious movement in the Victorian Period (1832-1901). It is led by John Henry Cardinal Newman and introduced by John Keble. In 1833, Keble introduced this movement in one of his speeches. At that time, he was the professor of poetry in the University of Oxford. Then he also started another movement called High Church Movement. We know that he was one of Wordsworth's admirers. It is said that Oxford Movement had resemblance to the Pre-Raphaelite Movement. It was a protest against materialism and powerful church. It was against the great aspiration for return to the spirit of the Middle Age. It was a break against Protestantism and returning the bosom of the Roman Catholic Church Cardinal found universality and the principal of authority only in Roman Catholicism.In fact, Oxford Movement was intended to bring new life to Anglican Church by a revival of the doctrine and practices of an earlier period. So Newman chose literature as a weapon. The leaders of the movement tried to oppose liberalism and restore the doctrine and authority of the early church. They wanted to continue teaching it. Their belief can be epitomized through one sentence---"I believe in one Catholic and Apostolic Church ". Oxford Movement ended practically when Newman entered the Catholic Church in 1845.

Bronte- Sisters 

Victorian Period is a great period of women novelists. Among them, Bronte-Sisters are specially mentionable. They have played a very significant part in the development of English novel. They have written many novels which are studied with rapt attention even today. Though their novels are remarkable, in some respects they do not surpass their limited range and outlook in them.We know that there are three sister of Brontes. Bronte-Sisters are Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte and Anne Bronte. The first two of them are the novelists of genius. Charlotte has written John Eyre, Shirley, and Villete. Her first novel, The Professor is based on her personal experience during her stay in boarding school in Brussels. But John Eyre is her best-known novel. Modern woman enters fiction for the first time and struggles with fundamental problems posed by love and sex through the portrayal of John Eyre. Emily Bronte 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 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. Anne Bronte is not able to compose anything important because of her premature death. However, 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.


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