Main points characterizing the 20th Century and the period following the I World War
Edward VII and the 1st Decade of the 20th Century
- Many reforms like the New Education Art
- Women’s emancipation
- It’s very similar to the Late Victorianism. Problems rise in the social sphere of the society and in labour conditions.
- Trade Unionism: laborers ask more and there are strikes and manifestations. The movement of the suffragettes begins with women asking for more consideration and, most importantly, for their right to vote.
- Demand of Independence of Ireland
- Problems rise with the Empire, for instance in India.
The First World War
- Jingoism; it is a movement characterized by a strong sense of Nationalism that was born in England even before the war, when England was already a great Empire and had therefore developed a strong national sense of awareness.
- Patriotism; it was a very strong movement that slowly turned into Jingoism. Its aim was that to export English culture everywhere.
- The Shellshock; the great shock of war. People thought that the war was to last much shorter than it did. New technology in weaponry leaded to a high number of human losses and seriously wounded people. The First World War was a trench war and it caused great psychological stress to the soldier who had to endure long nights and days defending their trenches to barely gain one meter at a time. Even the soldiers that survived were psychologically broken. At the end, hundreds of thousands people died in Europe.
Consequences of the war
- After the war England gained some other colonies that were taken from Germany.
- People who came back from the war were psychologically broken. As a consequence, the ’20s and ‘30s are the years of the Great Depression caused by economic reasons such as the reconversion of the factories.
- Even before they gained their right to vote, in 1928, women were now considered an important part of the society because they had managed to run the country during the war.
- Contrast between the Old Generation that after the trench war couldn’t bring itself to start over, and the New Generation which couldn’t understand the former.
- Age of disillusions and of psychological and existential issues. Everything has been broken down by the war. There was no more religious belief and no expectations of a better future. It was as if people had lost their roots and they closed themselves in isolation, depression and insecurity. People were anxious and not able to do anything. The past had been destroyed and there was no future to be seen.
- New philosophies: Darwin and “Men is nothing but an Ape!”, and Freud and his exploration of the subconscious.
- Relativity: everything becomes subjective and relative because there are no certainties left. There’s a loss of objectivity and an increasing sense of individuality. Nothing is shared among people. But there is also an increase in experiments, in science, literature and art and there is the beginning of the Avanguards. In England, with Avanguard we mean Modernism (introspection, innovation and new technologies, etc.).
- As everything had to be new, all the past had to be forgotten. But there were people, like Elliot, who started from traditions to build the new, and there were many debates about the matter.
- Reality is seen through the individual life. This was very dangerous because everybody was always right and could do whatever he/she wanted.