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Ch 8: Victorian Literature

About This Chapter

Watch Victorian literature video lessons to learn about 19th century authors, their attempts to create happy endings, societal expectations and more. Take the quizzes that follow each lesson to test your knowledge of Victorian literature.

English Literature: Victorian Literature

Victorian literature is work that was written during the reign of Queen Victoria of England. It is believed to be a transition period between the Romantic writings of the early 19th century and the darker writings at the turn-of-the-century. Victorian literature is credited with bringing strong social issues to readers and challenging the way children were treated.

During the Industrial Age, women and children were treated badly. Children worked long hours in poorly ventilated factories and women were expected to know their place. Authors, like Charles Dickens and George Eliot, wrote about the vast differences between the upper and lower classes in England. Their works were widely popular because they incorporated the theme that any person can raise his or her station in life. In his poem, Ulysses, Lord Tennyson also challenged the idea that no one was satisfied with his or her life and that he or she must take action for change. Many of these novels concluded with a happy ending (or one that society would approve of).

Of course, the idea that adventure and love could change someone's lot in life gave hope and created popular fiction. However, society still expected certain standards. Fiction did not immediately change the fact that the wealthy expected children and servants to work hard without the promise of a better life. Interestingly, George Eliot also felt sexist pressure so she took on her male pseudonym to escape the expectations society had for women writers. Through these lessons, you'll learn how urban and provincial life was portrayed in narrative and how the idea of 'sprung rhythm' was created. Thanks for watching!

15 Lessons in Chapter 8: Victorian Literature
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Introduction to Victorian Literature: Overview of Themes, Style, and Authors

1. Introduction to Victorian Literature: Overview of Themes, Style, and Authors

Victorian literature is literature written in England during the reign of Queen Victoria, or roughly from 1837 -1901. It is largely characterized by the struggle of working people and the triumph of right over wrong.

Introduction to Charles Dickens: Works, Style, and Influence

2. Introduction to Charles Dickens: Works, Style, and Influence

Ebenezer Scrooge. Oliver Twist. Miss Havisham. David Copperfield. These are among literature's most fascinating figures, and they were all created by the same author. Watch this lesson to learn more about one of the English language's greatest authors, Charles Dickens.

A Tale of Two Cities: Dickens' Novel of the French Revolution

3. A Tale of Two Cities: Dickens' Novel of the French Revolution

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. In this video lesson, learn about A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens' classic novel about the French Revolution.

Dickens' Great Expectations: Plot, Characters, and Social Class

4. Dickens' Great Expectations: Plot, Characters, and Social Class

In 'Great Expectations,' young Pip has big dreams and lofty goals. All that's standing in his way is pretty much everyone he meets, as well as himself. Watch this lesson to learn more about this classic Charles Dickens novel.

David Copperfield: Dickens' Bildungsroman

5. David Copperfield: Dickens' Bildungsroman

The novel 'David Copperfield' is a coming of age story full of wicked villains, noble friends and true love. Watch this lesson to learn more about the novel that Dickens considered his best.

Oliver Twist: Plot and Characters in Dickens' Social Novel

6. Oliver Twist: Plot and Characters in Dickens' Social Novel

It's Oliver Twist, the tale of an orphan boy who's mistreated, kidnapped once or twice, and saved once or twice, but all along never loses his plucky optimism. Watch this lesson to find out more!

Introduction to George Eliot: Life and Major Works

7. Introduction to George Eliot: Life and Major Works

Mary Ann Evans, aka George Eliot, is one of the premiere writers of Victorian England. Watch this video lesson to see how she combined her interests in realism and rural life into an epic output of novels.

Middlemarch:  Eliot's Novel of Provincial Life

8. Middlemarch: Eliot's Novel of Provincial Life

In this lesson, we'll introduce the characters and many twisted plotlines of George Eliot's classic novel, 'Middlemarch.' Called the only Victorian novel 'written for grown-up people' by Virginia Woolf, this work is both expansive and highly realistic.

Introduction to Robert Browning: Life and Poems

9. Introduction to Robert Browning: Life and Poems

Robert Browning was a Victorian poet who liked to write creepy monologues about killers, monarchs and more killers. Learn all about him in our video lesson!

My Last Duchess:  Browning's Poetic Monologue

10. My Last Duchess: Browning's Poetic Monologue

In this lesson, we'll read through Robert Browning's terrific poem 'My Last Duchess.' Browning slowly reveals the character of the speaker as he discusses his now-deceased wife in front of a painting of her hanging on the wall.

Introduction to Alfred Lord Tennyson: Life and Major Poetic Works

11. Introduction to Alfred Lord Tennyson: Life and Major Poetic Works

He's a Poet Laureate, a master wordsmith and the originator of quotes you probably think came from Shakespeare. Check out our lesson on Alfred, Lord Tennyson, possibly the most important English poet of the Victorian era!

The Eagle by Alfred Lord Tennyson: Summary & Analysis

12. The Eagle by Alfred Lord Tennyson: Summary & Analysis

In this lesson, you will learn some background information on Tennyson in order to understand his poem 'The Eagle.' Then, you will analyze the poem to reach the deeper meaning behind the words.

Tennyson's In Memoriam, A.H.H.:  Overview of 'In Memoriam' Stanzas

13. Tennyson's In Memoriam, A.H.H.: Overview of 'In Memoriam' Stanzas

Alfred, Lord Tennyson's 'In Memoriam, A.H.H.' stands as one of the finest examples of elegy in the English language. Watch our lesson to learn all about this masterpiece, including its possible contradictions!

Tennyson's Ulysses:  A Victorian Take on Greece

14. Tennyson's Ulysses: A Victorian Take on Greece

'Ulysses' is a very popular poem by Victorian superstar Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Watch our lesson to learn all about this portrait of a hero... or is he a major jerk?

Introduction to Gerard Manley Hopkins: Devout Catholicism and Sprung Rhythm

15. Introduction to Gerard Manley Hopkins: Devout Catholicism and Sprung Rhythm

In this video, we'll introduce the 19th-century British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. Hopkins is famous for inventing a new type of meter for poetry: sprung rhythm. We'll examine his poems and analyze how sprung rhythm works. Additionally, we'll examine the influence of Catholicism on Hopkins' poetry.

Chapter Practice Exam
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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