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An AQA English Literature LTA1A Guide: Victorian Literature

David Dunford | Friday April 04, 2014

Categories: Hot Entries, Poetry, Tennyson, Prose, Victorian Literature, Writing, Poetry Analysis, AQA A Level English Literature A, LTA1, KS5 Archive, AQA A Level

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Distant though the Victorian era may seem to most young people today, it is of enormous importance in being the origin of many of the things we now take for granted – in terms of technological development, changes in society and in attitudes and beliefs. It was a period of massive changes, which many people resisted or tried to ignore. Not surprisingly, many writers tried to draw the public’s attention to their significance.

  • The effects of the Industrial Revolution; growth of cities and agricultural difficulties.
  • The Reform Acts and the slow development towards universal suffrage (voting).
  • Rapid developments in science and technology – and the growing belief in the perfectibility of the world through it.
  • The questioning of traditional Christian faith eg.
  • Scientific advances (particularly Darwin’s Origin of Species).
  • Advances in historical knowledge and methods undermining accuracy of Biblical accounts.
  • Growing emphasis on freedom of thought.
  • Extremes of wealth and poverty, particularly in the new or much expanded cities.
  • Class and social mobility.
  • Unhealthy, crowded, living conditions, leading to epidemics – typhus and cholera.
  • Failure of harvests: agricultural depression and hunger; the ‘Corn Laws’ and their repeal.
  • Rapid development of transport and communications, with effect on living and working patterns.
  • Growth of international trade and development of economic theories.
  • British involvement in increasingly complex and wide-ranging conflicts, particularly the Crimea.
  • Growth of Empire; sense of patriotism and duty. Role of “God’s Englishmen?.
  • Development of Public Schools, to create leaders of Empire.
  • Missionary activity; need to impose Christian faith and western values on “lesser breeds?  [Kipling]
  • Development of education in general, particularly for working classes and women.
  • Increase in ‘puritanical’ morality alongside often hidden corruption and sexual immorality.
  • Changing...

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