The Victorian age started in 1830, a period of great reforms characterized by an economic progress and political stability. In 1837 Victoria became queen but the reforms started before his reign.
These reforms were: “ten hours act” that limited working hours to 10 a day for all workers; “factory act” when the children couldn’t work for more than 48 h for week; the “corn laws” was abolished because them maintained the price of corn artificially high to protect the interest of land owners; “the mines act” prohibited the work of children and women in mines; “the public health act” consisted in cleaned the city by slums and provided housing for the poor.
During Victoria’s reign the political panorama changing with the regrouping of the parties: the liberal party included the former Whigs, radicals and businessman led by William Gladstone; the conservative party included the Tories led by Benjamin Disraeli.
When Disraeli became prime minister his government passed a “public health act” and a “factory act”; with Gladstone the government passed the “education act” that started a national system of board schools, the “trade union act” that introduced the secret ballot at elections and the “third reform act” that extended voting to all males, including miners and farmers with the help of “Chartism”, a working-class movement.
Were constructed new parks and stadium, prisons and police station and the prime minister established the metropolitan police.
In foreign policy England protect its trading routes: in 19th century its naval power and its enormous financial seemed Britain invulnerable. In South America, in Asia and in Africa Britain competed with other European countries to divide the continent. In 1877 queen Victoria was given a new title of empress of India but the empire was very difficult to control. India was economically important for British goods and strategically necessary to control of Asia. This period destroyed traditional farming and caused the deindustrialisation of India.
The Victorian age end with the death of queen Victoria in 1901.
Queen Victoria promoted a code of values based on hard work, respectability and charity; values refined by only upper and middle classes.
The respectability distinguished the middle from the lower class, in fact this values were a mix of severity and conformity, possession of good manners and regular attendance in church. The family was a patriarchal unit where the husband represented the authority and concerned the education of children and the managing of the house.
The early Victorian novels were characterized by social and humanitarian themes; the most important writer was Charles dickens. The mid-Victorian novels were gothic, romantic and psychological and the most important writers of this period were the Bronte’s sisters and Stevenson. There were also the late Victorian novels and these were an expression of dissatisfaction with the value of the age; the most famous writers were Ardy and Oscar Wilde.
Charles Dickens was born in England in 1812. He had an unhappy childhood because his father, mother and brothers were imprisoned for debt and he was put to work in a factory. At fifteen he found employment in office and studied shorthand at night. After this work, he goes to work in a journal and starts to write novel; after the success of some novel, started a full-time career as a novelist. His novel was autobiographic like Oliver Twist and the protagonist became symbols of an exploited childhood in a factory. He died in London in 1870.
The novel Oliver Twist talking about a lot of children poor who were obliged to work in factories and mines. The most important setting is London and there are three different social levels: first is the parochial world of workhouses; second is the criminal world of the slums; finally there is the world of Victorian middle class, where live respectable people who show a regard for moral values. Dickens attacked the social evils of his time like the workhouse where the residents were subjects to hard regulations like work, separated by families, rations of food and clothing were small and poor.