Historical context

The Victorian Age saw the alternation between the Conservatives (who advocated the maintenance of existing institutions) and the Liberals (who represented the old Whig aristocracy who wanted free trade). When young Victoria came to the throne in 1837 there were violent riots by workers who wanted better wages, the right to vote and the representation in Parliament. In foreign affairs there was the consolidation of an Empire which stretched from Canada in the west to New Zealand in the east. The heart of the Empire was India which produced tea, spices, silk and cotton exported in all part of the world. Africa-which produced cocoa, coffee, wood, gold and diamonds-was the last continent to be colonized. The death of Queen Victoria in 1891 marked the end of British history.

Literary context

In this period the novel was accessible to the middle-class and was published in magazines. Its structure was episodic and this stimulated the curiosity of the readers and created suspense. The story of the novels was sentimental in order to appeal to the emotions rather to the intellect. The subject were family situations, social problems, school system, the difficulties of the life and the struggle between good people and evil villains. Most novel were full of realism and the events were presented in chronological order by a third person narrator. The setting of the novel is the city which is the symbol of industrialization. The novel has a didactic aim and in its there's the psychological analysis; the plot of the novel is complicated and long. We can divide Victorian novel in three groups:

1. The early Victorian Novel with writers like Charles Dickens who told about social and humanitarian themes;
2. The Mid Victorian novel was linked to the persistence of romantic and gothic traditions and saw the Bronte sisters as writers;
3. The Late Victorian novel with authors like Thomas Hardy and Oscar Wilde with tge them works full of naturalism.

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