The History of the Victorian Period

The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
The Romantic Period
The Victorian Period
The Post-Victorian Period
The Pre-Atomic Period
The Nuclear Age

Victorian readers were stirred from a fanciful lethargy to be informed of the harsher realities of life that were around them. They were informed that - unlike earlier fictitious portrayals - life was real and in earnest. The energy that was expended on plot in the Romantic Period was now channeled into form - a stricter discipline was necessary. They were also told that social reforms were needed - now! Advances had been made in industry and technology while shifts in population had occurred from rural to urban. Charles Dickens had arrived on the scene to champion these social changes with his numerous characters and novels. His plots stressed such social ills as abuses in child labor, corrupt orphanages, debtor's prison, etc.

While Victorians became more prudish in their moral attitudes, the amount of Victorian readers increased as the literacy rate rose. Unawares, these new Victorian readers were slowly being indoctrinated to their future roles in society as they awaited monthly magazine installments written by Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray.

As the novel gained greater popularity, a blurring began to occur over the old distinction between romanticism and realism and the new distinction between realism and the novel of purpose. The Victorian novel found itself on a specific mission. Taking up the banner of social reform and championing causes, it upgraded the quality of the novel per se. Now, the novel had a purpose other than escape. It was down to earth - no longer just a frivolous diversion. Now, its sober thought afforded it a new-founded dignity.

The Victorian novel expanded its area of analysis. Since any type of story line was acceptable, the range of plots extended to coverage of all human experiences. Plots were extended to such areas as crime, sports, the sea, the military, politics, etc.

Some of the noted novelists of this period are: Fyodor Dostoevski, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, Wahington Irving,James Fenimore Cooper, Mark Twain, George Eliot, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Gustave Flaubert, Henry James and Robert Louis Stevenson.