The Victorian Age
Queen Victoria was the ruler of England from 1837 to 1901, so it is customary to
call the writings produced during this long stretch of years Victorian literature. It
is commonly divided into three phases:
; The Early Victorian Period(1832-1848), a time of troubles
; The Mid-Victorian Period (1848-1870), a time of economic prosperity and
; The Last Period(1870-1901), a time characterized by decay of Victorian
; Development of Capitalist industry and its significance.
; Darwin’s theory of Evolution and its influence. (1859 On the Origin of
; Women question : how women were regarded and regarded themselves as
members of society became one of the chief concerns of Victorian writers. Literature of the Age
; Unlike the previous two periods of Neo-classicism and Romanticism, there
was no dominant literary theory in Victorian literature. Several literary trends
existed side by side, they are as follows
; Chartist literature, the product of the Chartist Movement(宪章运动是19世纪
; The flourishing of realistic novels from Dickens to Hardy. This is considered
the greatest literary achievement of the age .
; The third is the memorable poetry of the “Big Three”--- Tennyson, Browning
The fourth is the appearance of the Pre-Raphaelite(前拉斐尔派:是1848年在英国兴
很大的影响。 ) Brotherhood, a new movement in art and poetry shortly after 1850, led by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
The fifth is the emergence of the Aesthetic Movement towards the end of the century,
represented by Oscar Wilde, who advocated the theory of “art for art’s sake”
No one who has studied Victorian literature will ignore its outstanding achievements in the novel. From the time of Charles Dickens to the final decade when Thomas Hardy published his last novel Jude the Obscure , a long line of novelists continued
to turn out monumental masterpieces that delighted their contemporaries and continue to delight readers today.
; Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, and spent the first nine years
of his life living in the coastal regions of Kent, a county in southeast England.
Dickens’s father, John, was a kind and likable man, but he was incompetent
with money and piled up tremendous debts throughout his life. When Dickens
was nine, his family moved to London. When he was twelve, his father was
arrested and taken to debtors’ prison.
Dickens’s mother moved his seven brothers and sisters into prison with their father, but she arranged for the young Charles to live alone outside the prison and work with other children pasting labels on bottles in a blacking warehouse
Dickens found the three months he spent apart from his family highly traumatic. Not only was the job itself miserable, but he considered himself too good for it, earning the contempt of the other children. After his father was released from prison, Dickens returned to school. He eventually became a law clerk, then a court reporter, and finally a novelist. His first novel, The Pickwick Papers, became a huge popular
success when Dickens was only twenty-five. He published extensively and was considered a literary celebrity until his death in 1870
; Many of the events from Dickens’s early life are mirrored in Great
Expectations, which, apart from David Copperfield, is his most
Works and its significance
; Upon his death, Dickens left to the world a rich legacy of 20 novels, and a
number of short stories. They offer a most complete and realistic picture of
English society of his age and remain the highest achievement in the 19th
century English novel.
on and poverty, ; In nearly all his novels, behind the gloomy pictures of oppressi
behind the loud humor and buffoonery(滑稽), is his gentleness, his genial
mirth (happiness), and his simple faith in mankind.
Distinct features of his novels
; Character sketches and exaggeration
in his novels are found about 19 hundred figures, some of whom are really such “typical characters under typical circumstances” that they become proverbial or representative of a whole group of similar persons.
; As a master a characterization, Dickens was skillful in drawing vivid
caricatural sketches by exaggerating some peculiarities, and in giving them
exactly the actions and words that fit them, that is right words and right
actions for the right person.
; Broad humor and penetrating satire
Dickens is well known as a humanist as well as satirist. He sometimes employs humour to enliven a scene or lighten a character making it eccentric, whimsical, or laughable. Sometimes, he uses satire to ridicule human follies or vices, with the purpose of laughing them out of existence or bringing about reform
; Complicated and fascinating plot
; The power of exposure
as the greatest representative of English critical realism, Dickens made his novel the instrument of morality and justice. Whatever we may think of the exaggeration of his characters, it is certain that he did more to correct the general selfishness and injustice of society toward the poor than all the works of other literary men of his age combined. Each of his novels reveals a specific social problem.
; Dickens has a tendency to depict the grosteque characters or events.
; Dickens loves to instil life into inanimate things and to compare animate
beings to inanimatie things.
; Dickens is noted for his description of pathetic scenes that aim to arouse
; The 19th century literary movement that reacted to romanticism by insisting
on a faithful, objective presentation of the details of everyday life. Naturalism
A extreme form of realism. A post-Darwinian movement of the late 19th century that tried to apply the “laws” of scientific determinism to fiction. The naturalist went
beyond the realist’s insistence on the objective presentation of the details of everyday life to insist that the materials of literature should be arranged to reflect a deterministic universe in which man is a biological creature controlled by his environment and heredity.
; During 1880s-1890s,naturalism was spread to Britain but was received rather
coldly and hostilely. critics couldn't tolerate the frank and audacious
descriptions of naturalistic novels, especially descriptions about sexuality;
secondly, the authorities and the upper-classes were afraid of the possibility
that reading by a large audience of naturalist novels would lead to the
weakening of national spirit or threaten social stability. Represented by French
; Great Expectations is set in early Victorian England, a time when great social
changes were sweeping the nation. The Industrial Revolution of the late
eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries had transformed the social landscape,
enabling capitalists and manufacturers to amass huge fortunes. Although social
class was no longer entirely dependent on the circumstances of one’s birth, the
divisions between rich and poor remained nearly as wide as ever. Themes Ambition and Self-Improvement
The moral theme of Great Expectations is quite simple: affection, loyalty, and
conscience are more important than social advancement, wealth, and class.
Ambition and self-improvement take three forms in Great Expectations—moral,
social, and educational; these motivate Pip’s best and his worst behavior throughout the novel. Social Class The theme of social class is central to the novel’s plot and to the ultimate moral theme of the book—Pip’s realization that wealth and class are less important than affection, loyalty, and inner worth.
Brainstorming Pip: the character and narrator ; Joe and Mrs. Joe Miss
Havisham and her foster child Estella(daughter of Magwitch) Orlick: evil
person Magwitch : the convict Herbert Pocket : pip’s friend Jagger:
lawyer Wemmick: pip’s friend and the law clerk of Jagger compeyson:who jilted
Miss Havisham and the former partner Biddy : plain girl who married Joe
after he lost his wife.Bentley Drummle: an upper-class lout, Estella’s husband