The Civil War between Catholics and Puritans ended with the victory of Puritan army under the command of Oliver Cromwell and the King Charles I was executed. Cromwell founded a republic known as "Commonwealth" but puritan rule did not last long: after Cromwell's death, the Parliament decided the return of the monarchy with Charles II, member of Stuart dynasty. The return of the monarchy was called "The Restoration". The first years of Restoration were marked by a tragic events: the Great Fire of London and the Bubonic plague, interpreted as God's punishment y the Puritans. Charles II also created the Royal Society in 1662, a centre of development of sciences and philosophy. When Charles II died, his brother James II came to the throne. He was catholic and absolutist so, the Puritans, appealed to William of Orange, husband of James' daughter, Mary. William landed England and won over James II, then he was crowned King. William's victory is know as the Glorious Revolution because it was bloodless. During his reign important laws were introduced: the Bill of Right, decided that the King wasn't be able to rule the country without Parliament; the Toleration Act introduced the freedom of religion.
Since the time of the Glorious Revolution two political parties dominated England: the Whings, represented the interests of the middle classes, and the Tories, represented the old aristocracy.
In the eighteenth century, during George I's reign ( a german who didn't speak english), the Whigs had the power for the first half of the century, shaming the power of the monarchy. Ministers met without the King in the Cabinet led by the Prime Ministre, the first one was Robert Walpole who managed to keep England out of foreign conflict so that trade could flourish and taxes could be kept down.
From the first half of the eighteenth century, writers toke inspiration from the Latin poets who lived under the Emperor Augustus so, the 18th century is known as the "Augustan Age".
This period was characterized by political stability and a flourishing of the arts. Moreover Enlightened thinkers affirmed free will, liberal thoughts and man's capacity of progress, defining optimism and trusting on people's reason and common sense. In fact this period is also called the Age of Reason. A desire for balance and symmetry could be observed in all arts, connected with the imitation of Nature.
In this period, there was an increase of the reading public and the growing importance of the middle class, especially women. Middle classes began to attended coffee-houses, gathering points where fashionable and artistic people exhanged ideas and talked about policy and gossip. The interest of the middle class in literatuer gave rise to the journalism (it's the start of the first english newspaper with simple style and a didactic aim) and the novel.
The novel, written in prose, is a narrative that has characters, actions and a plot.
The main character was a bourgeois man who sympathise with the reader. All characters have contemporart names and surnames and they struggle for survival or social success. The presentation of the character can be direct or indirect. Direct is when the reader knows the character through the description of his/her personality by the narrator, indirect is when the reader knows the character thought the action. There can be minor or major characters depending on their role in the story. Characters can also be round, when they change their personality as the narrations develops, or flat, when they do not change. These last ones can be called stereotypes.
The setting refers to particular times and to names of country or towns. It counts detailed description to make the narrative more realistic and the plot follows chronological sequences of events.
The author choose the way to tell the story among the dialogue, the description and the narration. Moreover a story can have different points of view, influenced by the kind of narrator. The first-person narrator employs the I mode and can coincide with the author or a character. This choice bring the reader close to the mind and feeling of the narrator and convey an impression of reality. The third-person narrator knows everything about the actions and the characters. It can be obtrusive, when he addresses directly to the reader, proving comments on the society of the time or on some characters or actions, and unobtrusive, when he's objective and doesn't interfere with the story.
The theme of the novel contains the ideas the author tries to convey and the message whose interpretation allows to understand the meaning of the text. The major themes were real life, everything that could alter a social status and the sense of reward and punishment, of the puritan ethics of the middle class.
The fathers of English Novel were Defoe, Richardson, Fielding and Swift, whose aim were to be understood widely (in fact they uses a simple language), the realism, the speed and copiousness (economic virtues since it was the bookseller and not the patron who rewarded them).
A cura di ANNA PASTONE IIIAL