Presentation on theme: "Progress and Decline: The Victorian Era"— Presentation transcript:
1 Progress and Decline: The Victorian Era ENG 400: British LiteratureUnit IV: Progress, Decline, and Change
2 Historical Background Key Historical Theme: Imperial BritainUnder Victoria, Britain’s empire expanded, and Britain celebrated progress, prosperity, and peace.Darker aspects of the era included the Irish potato famine, widespread poverty at home, and Germany’s rise as a competing imperial power.
3 Queen Victoria I Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 until 1901. After the out-of-touch and scandalous monarchs of the previous era, Victoria I set out to restore the reputation of the monarchy.In 1840, married her cousin, Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, whom she loved dearly.Respectability was an important concept in this era, and Victoria herself was a model of it.
4 The Victorian Age: A Time of Contradictions The Victorian era saw a return to optimism and faith in progress, technology, and empire.The era was an “age of transition”: an old social and political order, dating back to medieval times, was being transformed into a modern democracy.“Best of Times”“Worst of Times”Dramatic technological advancesRapid industrializationGrowth of citiesPolitical reformsDevelopment into a worldwide empireSpread of povertyIncreasing social inequalityConflict between social change and long-held beliefsContinuous military campaigns to gain and hold colonies
5 Tragedies and Triumphs: The Irish Potato Famine Potatoes are a key crop and staple of the Irish diet.1845: Potato crop failedBy 1849, half of the population of Ireland had died or left the country.British government did little to help, fueling hatred and violence between the British and Irish for the next hundred years.
6 Tragedies and Triumphs: The Great Exposition 1851: The high point of Victoria’s reign was the Great Exposition in the Crystal Palace, organized by Prince Albert.The Palace, designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, was a wholly new style of architecture using iron and glass.The exhibitions dramatized themes of empire and progress, celebrating manufacturing, colonization, and national pride.
7 A Reforming AgeWriters exposed brutal factory conditions and stinking slums.Goaded by reformers and radicals, leaders took steps to expand democracy and better the lot of the poor.Two key issues:Trade policyElectoral reform
8 Key Issue: Trade Policy Corn Laws: placed high tariffs on grainDiscouraged food importsHelped British landlords and farmers keep food prices high1845 – 1849: Ireland faced a massive food famine1846: Parliament increased food supply by suspending Corn LawsOver next decades, Parliament established a policy of free trade.
9 Key Issue: Electoral Reform 1838: “People’s Charter”Authored by London radical William LovettDemanded universal suffrage for malesSecond Reform Bill of 1867 granted voting rights to many urban workingmenThird Reform Act (1884 – 1885) and Redistribution Act (1885) tripled the electorate and advanced country toward universal male suffrage.
10 Additional Reforms Women allowed to attend public universities. Parliament passed laws toReduce the workday for women and childrenEstablish a system of free grammar schoolsLegalize trade unionsProvide public sanitationTo regulate factories and housingAgitation continued for further reform.
11 Imperialist Urge Arguments in support of imperialism Colonies could provide raw materials and markets for British industryColonies would offer homes for British settlersIf Britain did not seize a territory, a rival country wouldVictorian belief: Western civilization was superior to all other culturesCrimean War (1853 – 1856): Britain, France, and Ottoman Turkey teamed up to thwart Russian expansion
12 Britain as World PowerHong Kong: Britain seized control of Hong Kong from China inIndia: After a rebellion by Indian troops from 1857 – 1858, Britain took direct control of India from the British East India Company.During last three decades of Victorian rule, Britain expanded influence in Africa:Gained control of Suez Canal (Egypt)Acquired territories in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)Defeated Dutch settlers in Boer War (1899 – 1902) to consolidate control over what is now South Africa
13 Late 19th Century British Empire Source: Center for History and New Media
14 Victorian ThoughtVictorian thinkers often disagreed on the crucial issues of their times, but they shared a deep confidence in humanity’s ability to better itself.Enjoyed material benefits of industrializationDeplored brutality of factory life and slumsDebates regarding whether business should be allowed free rein or the government should take a strong role in the economy.Grappled with religious and philosophical as well as social implications of modern life.
15 Two Major Publications The Communist ManifestoOn the Origin of SpeciesPublished in 1848 by Karl MarxWith revolutions convulsing Europe, pamphlet warned of the “spectre” of communism.With communism would come political revolution.Published in 1859 by Charles DarwinStirred bitter controversyExplained how life evolved from previous formsTaken by some as direct challenge to Biblical truthsAccepted by others who tried to reconcile scientific and religious thoughts
16 Literature of the Period Romanticism and RealismRomanticism continued to influence Victorian writersRealism focused on ordinary people facing the day- to-day problems of lifeNaturalismSought to employ the spirit of scientific observationFilled novels with gritty details, often with aim of social reformPortrayed nature as harsh and indifferent to the human suffering it caused
18 Advocacy and Literature As a TMA legal skill, advocacy is described as “[presenting] positions or arguments clearly and effectively, [both] orally and in writing.”Advocacy is the difference between social commentary (describing what one sees) and social criticism (arguing for change).Over time, British literature shifted from commentary to criticism as authors used their writing as a way to not only reflect their society, but to shape it as well.
19 Literary Form: Journalistic Essay During the Victorian Era, newspapers assembled a fact-based image of the world by bringing together news from near and far.This information helped people determine whether society had made progress in, whether things were better in the present than they had been in the past.Important newspapers during this era includedThe Times of London: established a reputation for independent, objective reportingThe Daily Telegraph: covered the news and offered thoughtful editorialsThe Illustrated London News: featured 32 woodcut images in its first edition and was the first British periodical to use photographs
20 Literary Form: Journalistic Essay continued Newspapers played an important role in Victorian society.They brought opinions as well as news to a vast public.They appealed to members of the public as witnesses, critics, and even judges of events.The provided the overall standard by which the public could judge events, personalities, and policies.This era gave meaning to the concept of public opinion, a force which is still important in today’s society.
21 Literary Form: Journalistic Essay continued Journalistic essays are short prose pieces that provide perspectives (viewpoints) on current events or trends.Combine the features ofJournalism: reports on social events and trendsEssays: explore the world to learn about the author or people in generalJournalistic essaysConstruct serious or trivial stories out of the day’s newsMay use the voice of an all-knowing witness or judgeMay offer individual opinions about common concerns
22 Literary Form: The Novel A novel is a long work of prose fiction.It is a comparatively recent genre of writing.Its longer length allows for a greater scope (more characters and/or longer time period).Novels tend to survey societies, social classes, and ways of life.Traditional types of novels includePicaresque: relates the adventures of a traveling hero in episodic form (series of events or episodes)Historical: features characters and events from historyNovel of Manners: shows the effects of social customs on individualsSocial: presents a large-scale portrait of an age, showing the influence of social and economic conditions on characters and eventsBildungsroman (Novel of Growth): traces a protagonist’s passage to adulthood (coming-of-age story)
23 Literary Form: The Novel continued Novels include basic literary elements such asPlot: an ordered sequence of eventsSetting: specific time and place of the actionCharacters: people who take part in the actionTheme: insight(s) into life conveyed by the literary workAs the novel developed, it emphasized or led to other literary innovations:Narrative technique: the way in which a writer tells a storyPhilosophical themes: general ideas about existence and valuesSocial commentary: writing that poses questions about or suggests criticism of life in a societyRealistic description: writing that attempts to accurately capture life in its details
24 Social Criticism in Fiction In the 19th century, social criticism began to appear more frequently in fiction.Authors such as Charles Dickens told stories that made the public aware of social ills such asslaveryunsafe work or living conditionscolonialismthe class systeminjustices in the judicial and education systems
25 Social Criticism in Fiction continued Social criticism often takes these formsRealism: reveals social ills by showing how life is really livedSatire: ridicules individuals, institutions, groups, etc. to expose folly and/or wrongdoingUtopian fiction: shows a perfect society, forcing readers to see what needs improvement in their own societyDystopian fiction: depicts a dreadful society, forcing readers to see the dangers to which current social ills may leadWithin a literary work, the social criticism may beExplicit: stated directly in the workImplicit: the reader is expected to infer the criticisms based on the work’s details
26 Activity: Analyzing Social Criticism Work with your table-mates to analyze examples of social criticism.Take notes as you experience each work.Discuss which type of social criticism the work represents (including details reflecting the features of that type), the issue(s) it addresses, and the viewpoint(s) that it is advocating.For each work, write a one-paragraph summary of your ideas to submit to me.“The Daily Show” (television)“Imagine” (song)“Inner City Blues” (song/video)“The Matrix” (movie)