THE VICTORIAN ERA 1837 to 1901 “BRITISH HISTORY IS TWO THOUSAND YEARS OLD, AND YET IN A GOOD MANY WAYS THE WORLD HAS MOVED FARTHER AHEAD SINCE THE QUEEN WAS BORN THAN IT MOVED IN ALL THE REST OF THE TWO THOUSAND PUT TOGETHER.” – MARK TWAIN Common Conception of the Victorian Era “During this period of growth and change, the numbers of the middle class swelled, the lives of the working class improved, and the nation was set on the road to democracy. “Nevertheless, for many … today the term Victorian implies only stuffy complacency, hypocrisy, and prudishness.” STRUCTURES OF SOCIETY The Beginning The Reform Bill of 1832 ◦ The passage of the bill represented the first real step toward the democratic reforms that many of the British had sought since the time of the American and French revolutions. ◦ Middle class men were given voting rights. Summary: Stable ◦ No major wars from 1815 to 1914 ◦ Colonialization primarily through commerce (as opposed to military strength) ◦ Industrial Revolution expanded which means the middle class expanded ◦ Social & economic changes happened gradually ◦ Political power was extended to middle and working classes Major Events ◦ England went from an island to an Empire! Major Events ◦ England went from an island to an Empire! ◦ Irish Potato famine / tension with Ireland ◦ Strong Prime Ministers – Disraeli & Gladstone ◦ Lister & Nightingale – medical advances ◦ Darwin’s Theory of Evolution made a splash ◦ Towards the end of the era, the previously progressive populace turned conservative. Queen Victoria ◦ Accepted the idea of constitutional monarchy in which the monarch gave advice rather than orders. ◦ Actually loved her husband – Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (German). After his death in 1861, she wore mourning for the rest of her life. ◦ She shaped the conventions of culture more than the politics of the time. Science ◦ “The chessboard is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. We know that his play is always fair, just, and patient. But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance. To the man who plays well, the highest stakes are paid, with that sort of overflowing generosity with which the strong shows delight in strength. And one who plays ill is checkmated – without haste, but without remorse. ◦ Thomas Huxley, from A Liberal Education PROGRESS The big idea of the era. Considered the duty of all to improve the world and ourselves. Radicals ◦ Both ideas built on this concept of progress or evolution ◦ Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels ◦ The Communist Manifesto 1848 ◦ Charles Darwin publishes ◦ On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection 1859 CULTURE Florence Nightingale ◦ Florence Nightingale (Crimean War) ◦ Photography & war correspondents revealed the bungling that kills many Brit. Soldiers in the hospital in Scutari, Turkey. ◦ So she went to help the ordinary British soldier ◦ “scum of the earth” Duke of Wellington ◦ She said that the British soldiers were “murdered” by incompetence. ◦ Made nursing a respectable career Expanded education opportunities increased literacy; Flourishing lending libraries and cheap periodicals created a mass reading public. Literature Novels were very popular and usually appeared in serial form initially. Optimism & belief in progress. Realism – sought to capture everyday life as it really was. Literature ◦ Writer’s goal: to make readers aware of the connection between earth and heaven, body and soul, material and ideal. ◦ To remind the reader to become better, materially, spiritually, and intellectually. FAMOUS WORKSDO YOU KNOW THEM? PLEASE, SIR, I WANT MORE Oliver Twist PLEASE, SIR, I WANT MORE The plucky orphan who went from an orphanage, apprenticeship to an undertaker, pick-pocket, to adopted son. Famous Characters: The Artful Dodger Fagin Oliver himself Brutal murder – Bill Sykes Charles Dickens ◦ Oliver Twist ◦ David Copperfield ◦ Great Expectations ◦ A Christmas Carol (Ebenezer Scrooge) DOPPELGANGERS This clip is a modern day version of what Victorian novel? This is a modern day version of what Victorian novel? DOPPELGANGERS Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde GENRES THE MYSTERY Name the famous duo ? HOLMES & WATSON SCIENCE FICTION The tripods are coming! WAR OF THE WORLDS HG Wells THE ADVENTURE Treasure Island – Original Pirate Tale X Marks the Spot & More Around the World in 80 days – Jules Verne CHILDREN’S STORIES Think of Disney Films- can you think of @least one that is based upon stories from the Victorian Period? Drama ◦ Gilbert & Sullivan ◦ HMS Pinafore, Pirates of Penzance ◦ Charming, tuneful, witty entertainment ◦ A world-turned-on-its-head view of life ◦ Oscar Wilde – Wittiness & absurdities ◦ Importance of Being Ernest ◦ George Bernard Shaw ◦ “Pygmalion” aka “My Fair Lady” Major Authors ◦ British ◦ Charles Dickens ◦ Henry James ◦ Tennyson ◦ George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) ◦ Robert Louis Stevenson – Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde ◦ Arthur Conan Doyle ◦ World ◦ Leo Tolstoy War and Peace ◦ Louisa May Alcott Little Women ◦ Mark Twain ◦ Victor Hugo – publishes Les Miserables in 1862 (Victorian in British time period, but Romantic in literary movement) VALUES Social Justice = “Woke” ◦ Actions of the Era ◦ Slavery abolished ◦ Child labor restricted (chimney sweeps) ◦ Public schools were established ◦ Charity as a Christian Duty –YMCA, the Salvation Army, and more organizations ◦ Debtor’s prison abolished ◦ ”Do noble things, not dream them” Charles Kingsley ◦ Values of giving to the poor, having a social conscience. ◦ Instead of the Romantic ideal of improving the self, focused on improving society Cleanliness and Order ◦ Obsessed with Cleanliness ◦ Obsessed with gentility or decorum ◦ Prudery almost a synonym for Victorianism ◦ Censors would omit items that would “bring a blush to the cheek of a young person” ◦ Sex, birth, and death were softened by sentimental conventions ◦ People arrested for disseminating info about STDs ◦ Seduced or adulterous women (not their male partners) were “fallen” and pushed to margins of respectability CONCEPT OF MANKIND The purpose of life – man’s nature. ◦ PROGRESS: ◦ Thought of themselves as progressing morally and intellectually as well as materially ◦ Arrogance about Progress in the era ◦ Macaulay: “his cool, almost amazed regard of the disorder and squalor of the past conveyed his sense of progress: How could those people have lived like that? How different we are; how far we have come.” ◦ Optimism – never ending progress ◦ World offered a challenging set of problems that could be understood by human intelligence and solved by science, government and other human institutions Think Ahead ◦ What later events (from the modern period) would make them doubt the idea of inevitable progress? Challenges to these Concepts ◦Evolution – are we any better than animals? ◦ What is it that makes us so? (if it is not a divine creation) ◦Is material progress really the best judgment of success? CONCEPT OF THE DIVINE Concept of the Divine ◦ Still a heavily Protestant Christian ◦ Trust in a transcendental power was characteristic of the early Victorian writers ◦ Romantic idea of a finite natural world surrounded by and interfused with an infinite, ideal transcendental reality. ◦ “We are all in the gutter; but some of us are looking at the stars” ◦ Oscare Wilde, from Lady Windermere’s Fan. Later writers found it increasingly difficult to believe in an infinite power and order that made sense of material and human existence. Later in the period Some writers complained that materialistic ideas of reality completely overlooked the spirit or the soul that made life beautiful and just. Does the universe make sense? Into the Modern Age At the end of the 19th century, Britain found its position of world leadership under increasing challenge. The United States had recently emerged as a major world power, and other European countries’ competition with Britain for the rich resources of Africa and China was creating political and military tensions that would culminate in World War I.