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Karl Marx brought the concept of socialism to London in 1870, and Germany was a threat in the political sector. It was a time of rapid changes in social and economic sectors that had no parallel in earlier history.
"The pace and depth of such developments, while they fostered a mood of nationalist pride and optimism about future progress, also produced social stress, turbulence, and widespread anxiety about the ability of the nation and the individual to cope, socially, politically, and psychologically, with the cumulative problems of the age.” - A Glossary of Literary Terms by M. H. Abrams.
Because of the invention of steam and steel, industrial revolution occurred, which led to the growth of urbanization, production of great wealth for the expanding middle class, massive poverty, and deterioration of rural England. Besides, a huge conflict occurred especially because of Darwin's evolution theory between science and religion. Darwin suggested that humans are actually originated from the apes. This struck the Orthodox, and moved the faith of people in religion. Besides, the industrial revolution caused rapid growth of factories, mills, industries, and people began to yield to mammon while capitalism enveloped spirituality. Human race became calculating and materialistic. Science brought new inventions and these inventions, while doing well to humans, was making them more mechanized. They were more interested in business than religion, were busy in working and making money.
This chaotic state especially the conflict between science and religion is wonderfully depicted in the poems of those poets who were extremely worried because of the conflict; Matthew Arnold is one of those. Poets like Arnold of nineteenth century started to hold a very pessimistic view about the Victorian crisis, and in almost all his poems including Dover Beach, The Scholar Gypsy, he seems to express only a negative attitude toward his contemporary age. But we see a quite dissimilar attitude in the poems of his most renowned contemporary, Alfred Lord Tennyson. Unlike Arnold, he expressed a compromising attitude to his age and its intricate problems. Tennyson, we find, in his Ulysses, The Lotos Eaters, The Charge of the Light Brigade, holds such a sort of view which is supposed to find a middle ground. He is neither too melancholic like Arnold nor too optimistic like Robert Browning, another contemporary, in terms of the tone, mood and theme of his poetry. He tries to portray in his poems a real and clear picture of the problems of contemporary age in an implicit way, and then shows positivity or a ray of hope at the end of almost all his poems. In fact the poem 'The Charge of the Light Brigade', which is based upon the Crimean War, describes the marvelous courage of the British soldiers and pays homage to them.
More or less, one thing is common among almost all the poets of the Victorian era (1837-1901); they have dealt with the Victorian crisis.
I need to divide the answer in two parts for the length.
First of all, it is essential to know which is called the Victorian era and why. The period during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) in England is called the Victorian age. The year 1870 is considered the dividing point between the early Victorian period and the late Victorian period. Scientific and economic progress brought positivity for all in the early period. But, very soon, an age of crisis began.
Here are some of the features of the Victorian period in English literature:
1) It was an age of extension and consolidation of Empire, England enjoying enormous authority at home and abroad;
2) Introduction of Railways, Industrialisation, Urbanisation led to vertical mobility and material prosperity, and also social and moral evils as necessary fall-out;
3) Voices like Carlyle and Ruskin were loud against the evils of materialism, mechanisation, social and moral injustices;
4) The Pre-Raphaelite movement in art and poetry registered a strong reaction against Victorian realism and a journey back to the medieval past and Romantic sensuousness;
5) Problems of the urban middle-classes and the industrial poor figured in the novels of Dickens Mrs.Gaskell;
6) Darwin's theory of evolution bred a strong element of doubt and despair as found in the novels of Hardy;
7) While the poetry of Tennyson represented the paradoxical duality of Work and Indolence, Arnold betrayed the spirit of moral-intellectual scepticism in his poetry of 'Victorian Unrest'.
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