The Victorian Novel
During the Victorian Age there was for the first time a communion between writes and their readers. In this period the novel became the most popular form of literature. The novelists felt they had a moral and social responsibility to fulfil, they aimed at reflecting the social changes that had been in progress for a long time.
This depicted society as they saw it, they denounced the evils of society but their criticism was not radical, it just aimed at making readers aware of social injustices.
A great number of novels published were written by women. It is possible to divide Victorian novels:
- Early-Victorian novel: dealt with social and humanitarian themes and expressed the ideas of the age. The main representative was Charles Dickens;
- Mid-Victorian novel: linked to the persistence of the Romanic and Gothic tradition. The main representative were the Bronte sisters and Robert L. Stevenson;
- Late-Victorian novel: nearer to the European development of naturalism. The main representative were Thomas Hardy and Oscar Wilde.
The most common features:
- omniscient narrator;
- the setting is the city because it is the main symbol of the industrial civilization;
- the plot is long and often complicated by sub-plots;
- Victorian writers concentrated on the creation of characters and achieved deeper analysis of the characters’ inner life;
- retribution and punishment were to be found in the final chapter.