Because of the migration to towns, economic expansion, the increase of population and the development of science and technology, British society was changing. This change was also marked by men like the philosophers Bergon and James, the psychologist Freud and the historian Marx, whose thoughts deeply influenced British literature.
The American psychologist William James (1842 – 1910) coined the phrase “stream of consciousness” to define the continuous flow of thoughts and feelings that characterized the human mind. This definition was applied by literary critics to a kind of the 20th century fiction which focused on these inner process. Introspection was already present in the 18th century novels, especially Defous’ and Richardson’s; the 19th century novel presented its characters as social beings but also as individuals with a moral and emotional inner life.
At the beginning of the 20th century, writers gave more and more importance to subjective consciousness and understood that it was possible to reproduce the complexity of the human mind using traditional techniques; so they looked for more suitable means of expression. They adopted the interior monologue to represent, in a novel, the unspoken activity of the mind before it is ordered in speech. Interior monologue is often confused with the “stream of consciousness”, although they are quiet different. In fact, the former is the verbal expression of a psychic phenomenon, while the later is the psychic phenomenon itself.