The Victorian Age began in 1832 (whit the “First reform act”) and ended in 1901; it was a composite age: there were progress and stability, but also injustice and social rest. The Victorians encouraged a code of values based on hard work, respectability, severity and prudery. Then philanthropy was a wide phenomenon, while sexuality was largely repressed, prostitution and poverty were social evils, so the Victorian made a “compromise”: they followed the Evangelicalism and they had an idealized vision of their society. The public opinion was influenced by Utilitarianism (“the greatest good for the greatest number”), Darwinism (the man is the result of a process of evolution) and Empiricism (progress comes from mental energy).
The political situation in America was tense because of the division between the North and the South, especially about the question of slavery. In this context, the Civil War broke out in 1861, ending in 1865 with the abolition of slavery, even if it didn’t grant the blacks equality. Then, in the second half of the eighteenth century there was an exceptional technological and industrial development and America became the most modern country in the world. In the 19th century in literature developed a movement called the “new England Renaissance” (1830-1865). The main values of the period were: the unity between oneness and multiplicity (like the melting pot in the society), the contact with nature, the over-soul that linked everything together.