Romantic Period and Victorian Period Essay

Paper Type:  Term paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1805 Words
Date:  2022-04-04


Romantic period and Victorian period were two main periods in English literature. Victorian and Romantic literature refers to the poetry produced during the Victorian and Romantic periods respectively. Romantic period occurred between the 1770s and 1830s and concentrated more on emotional literature and visual art (Chris 24). Victorian period, on the other hand, took place during the regime of Queen Victoria which lasted between 1837 until the death of Queen Victoria, 1901. The Victorian period was mostly influenced by literature and social issues such as poverty. During Victorian period, writers and poets dwelt on social effects of industrial revolution. The technological advancements led to social disintegration and emergence of the extremely wealthy persons and severely poor and oppressed people. Rather, both movements concentrated more on social changes. This paper explores social issues during Romantic and Victorian periods (Gillian 201).

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During romantic period people were mostly influenced by nature; people were reminded of nature and its morals. They were also allowed to express their thoughts and taught of spirituality, the value of a man. As compared to the earlier period, people were trained how to read, and churches started educating children on how to read, write and arithmetic. In additions, there was an overturning of prior social resolutions, mostly concerning the situation of the aristocracy.

Writers during the romantic era reacted to results of the industrial revolution by turning to nature. They felt the urge to return the society to the time before the rise of cities, factory system, capitalism, etc. World famous poets such as Keats, Wordsworth, and Shelley wrote lyrical poems which praised nature (Goodman 14). More emphasis was placed on the subconscious and conscious mind through dreams and revelations (Chris 214). The authors stressed more on the need to establish a well-structured social system void of upheavals brought by the changes in the society. Through their writings, the reputed authors challenged the functioning of the poor leadership in England (Goodman 54). Generally, Romantic period was romantic, emotional, idealistic, and mostly influenced nature.


During the Romantic period, streets were unhygienic, with waste and garbage all over. Families frequently owned sewers. Later toilets were devised and slowly became more available; however, families shared them for a while. Mostly due to the outbreak of diseases brought about by poor sanitation, life expectancy was low. Due to this, most towns dug cesspits hence decrease in the spread of diseases. Louis Pasteur did a number of experiments that demonstrated that microscopic organisms caused illness. In addition, he invented modes of sterilizing liquids through heating it.

Victorian novelists and poets vaguely believed in supernatural powers as the solution to societal problems and mostly wrote on economic disparities and increase on idol worship that occurred in various forms. Writers such as Charles Dickens, Tennyson and Hardy depicted the poor state of the people.

Emotional words, phrases, and sentences were applied during the Romantic era to express emotions of happiness, hopelessness, and sadness through the usage of notable features of style such as irony, suspense, hyperbole, flashback, and at times foreshadowing (Lan 92). Many writers during the Romantic era set their works in different settings and developed different characters to put across their messages. For example, Poet William Blake in the poem entitled "chimney sweeper" uses a child as the protagonist to illustrate how child labor was used during early stages of the industrial revolution. Victorian writers paid more attention to well-developed plots of considerable length and rarely used metaphors and images (Goodman 122).

Role of Women

The Victorian society was patriarchal (Gillian 115). Men possessed all types of freedoms and had total social, economic and political control over females. Women were to be pure and not supposed to have equal status with men. Women were meant for marriage, and this was an obligation - look after the home and the well-being of the family as well as fulfill the whims of their mates and had no rights and freedoms. Property ownership was restricted to their husbands (Chris 67). The contributions of women writers in advocating for gender equality and the changing role of women in the society led to equal treatment from men and society in general. It should be observed that before the rapid changes women were not educated as education was only meant for males (Goodman 110).

Women mostly performed domestic chores and at times some crafts and artisan courses such as needlework, cleaning, music dancing and studies in weaving unless they came from rich families with servants (Gillian 87). The role of women in the society was emphasized by the Romantic era writers such as Wollstonecraft, Maria Edge worth, Mary Darcy Robinson and Anna Letitia. They argued that improper and inadequate educational opportunities were the major cause of stagnating social growth and development (Chris 28). As a consequence, they wrote prolific literary works and pioneered deliberations on redefining social roles and functions of women in a male-dominated social structure. Author Mary Wollstonecraft in her work entitled "A vindication of the rights of women" stresses that women can never achieve their dreams of good living standards unless and until men admit and put into action that women can accomplish significant obligations if proper changes occur in the social, economic and political domains (Goodman 82). The works of writer Wollstonecraft influenced other female authors who constantly wrote advocating for feminine rights (Marks 119).

Child Labor

Child workers were numerous during the Victorian era (Gillian 196). Children had a very unhappy childhood. They used to work extra hard to satisfy the desires of their parents since their families were poor and they did not have enough money to feed them; therefore, children worked. The technological advancements led to the negligence of some traditional industries notably agriculture. People migrated to urban areas in search of the lucrative industrial job opportunities. The aged, children and physical disadvantaged were left in the villages, and they could not provide adequate farm labor hence low agricultural production (Chris 112). Children had to work either at home or in industries to bring more income for their families. They really went through difficult conditions of employment. They used to work for 8 to 12 hours a day for six days a week.

At times, the youngsters worked far from their immediate families as it was a burden for the families to live in the same geographical location. The child workers faced numerous handicaps as depicted by various reputed literary authors. The working conditions were poor, and they were hardly provided essential work tools and equipment (Goodman 11). Some faced industrial accidents and injuries which at times were fatal and they also worked for long hours for no extra pay. At times they would get no one to help them when they fall ill or get an accident while at work. Furthermore, they were underpaid which led to worsening of their living standard (Susan 58).

Science and Religion

The main themes during Victorian age included the role of science and religion in society by applying appropriate stylistic devices which evoke various human senses such as hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste (Gillian 37). Reflecting on the past is a major component of Victorian literature. The Victorians wrote on the old age knights and aimed at teaching proper moral issues to the audience. The famous poet Alfred Tennyson in the poem entitled "Idylls the King" exposes the heroic deeds in the form of narratives of King Arthur (Chris 79).

Social Classes

Shortage of finances forced the poor to have inadequate food supplies, and this status required extra assistance from the children (Gillian 111). The misery of the poor heightened the urge to employ more works on the challenges posed by the industrial revolution and the Neolithic wars. Poet Robert Burns in the poem entitled "To a Mouse "highlights the notable societal classes. In the poem, the mouse is the protagonist who constructs a dwelling place in order to overcome winter coldness. The mouse is later damaged by the man in his daily chores. The mouse is unmoved by the unexpected misfortune. In Poem the mouse represents the oppressed members who do not put a lot of concern to material possessions while man represents the oppressors (Gillian 101).

Victorian era was categorized by social groupings (Gillian 55). The society was classified into four main classes based on family background and material possessions. At the helm was the King and associates, followed by the nobles who were the well up in the society. They owned the farms and industries. The workers were in the third category while the poor in the final class. The upper class was very powerful and had the best living standards. The monarchy was hereditary. Those in authority got the best educational opportunities and could afford worldly pleasures (Gillian 20). The middle class had relatively good living conditions as compared to the lower ranks. They had increased in terms of numbers hence enjoyed higher influence as they could easily purchase consumer products from the newly set factories.

The upcoming wealthy merchants had finances to buy luxury goods such as fashionable garments, utensils, and they enjoyed better educational plus health services. Servants worked in their large mansions under the keen authority of the women. The poor who were the majority during the Victorian era faced numerous challenges as depicted in various literary works; gross poverty, low housing conditions, poor medical status, the high degree of mortality rate, and poor working conditions which were in most cases dark and lacked essentials such as clean drinking water. They lacked luxurious items such as fashion clothes, children toys and failed to afford entertainment facilities. (Chris 99).

Social Justice

Historically, England was the first nation in the world to industrialize, and this caused several negative and positive changes in the social, political and social arenas, and this had a profound effect on literature field. During Romantic age, authors dealt with human rights as the industrialists were mistreating the poor factory workers (Heifer 106). This is when people also started working more in factories than in their own homes. The laborers were unfairly paid, worked for long hours in poor conditions and were not permitted to form and join labor affiliations. The authors during the Romantic era were seen as the bearers of social justice as they addressed the evils bedeviling the community. Factories employed more children and women. Poetry was the medium through which the truth was conveyed and thereby contributing to social justice. Some poets praised their family relations and acquaintances. Poet Alexander Hope is known for praising his father for raising him according to societal expectations through poetry (Gillian 39). Men were termed to be in charge of the house, and both women and children were required to obey their husbands and fathers respectively. All properties belonged to the man of the house.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Essay:

Question: What were the key features of Romanticism in English literature?

Answer: The Romantic period in English literature was marked by its emphasis on nature, emotional expression, idealism, and social criticism. Notable poets such as Keats, Wordsworth, and Shelley wrote lyrical poems celebrating nature while criticizing industrial revolution-induced changes.

Question: In what ways did the Victorian period respond to social issues and disparities?

Answer: Victorian-period English literature focused heavily on social issues like poverty, economic disparities, and the role of women. Writers such as Charles Dickens, Tennyson, and Hardy brought attention to such inequalities while shining a light on society-wide issues, providing light for change while advocating against them.

Question: During the Romantic and Victorian periods, what role did women play?

Answer: In the Romantic period, women writers like Wollstonecraft and Robinson took steps to challenge limited roles assigned to women by society and advocated for gender equality. Victorian society was typically patriarchal; women had few rights or freedoms. Yet female authors such as Wollstonecraft and Robinson played an instrumental role in changing societal attitudes toward them and working toward equal treatment of all.

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