Курс лекцій для студентів денної, заочної та екстернатної форм навчання Інституту іноземної філології Частина ІІ херсон 2006 icon

Курс лекцій для студентів денної, заочної та екстернатної форм навчання Інституту іноземної філології Частина ІІ херсон 2006

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Міністерство освіти і науки України

Херсонський державний університет

Кафедра романо-германських мов

Л.Л. Ткаченко

Література Англії та США

Курс лекцій для студентів денної, заочної та екстернатної форм навчання Інституту іноземної філології

Частина ІІ

Херсон 2006

Схвалено навчально-методичною

комісією університету

(протокол № 2 від 1 листопада 2006р.)

Рекомендовано до друку вченою радою Херсонського державного університету (протокол № 2 від 6 листопада 2006р.)

Укладач: Ткаченко Л.Л. – кандидат філологічних наук, доцент

Рецензенти: Лебедєва Н.М. – кандидат філологічних наук, доцент

Димитренко Л.В. – кандидат філологічних наук, доцент

Part II of the course of lectures covers English literature in the Victorian Age and in the early twentieth century, as well as the development of American literature from the colonial period through the Enlightenment and the Romanticism to the Naturalism and Realism of the first decades of the twentieth century.


Victorian Age is the time span of the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). Queen Victoria, although a symbol of the age, interfered little in the running of the country, preferring to set a moral example to the nation, through the publication of her book Our Life in the Highlands, a kind of family diary. Her simple and virtuous behaviour made the monarchy more popular than it had ever been before.

The reign of Queen Victoria marked the climax of Britain’s imperial ambitions. The loss of the American colonies in 1783 had made the idea of further empire building unpopular. However, by 1850, in the face of fierce competition from its commercial rivals in Europe, Britain once more began to fight colonial wars, such as the Crimean War against Russia in 1854, the suppression of the Indian mutiny of 1857 and, in particular, expansionism in Africa, aided by great explorers such as Livingstone. The Boer Wars in South Africa at the end of the century and the invasion of Egypt and Sudan in the 1880s were other instances of the contradictions between Liberal ideas at home and brutal expansionism abroad.

In the 20th century the word “Victorian” began to mean “prudish”, “repressed”, and “old-fashioned”. The Victorian Age was, however, a second English Renaissance. Like Elizabethan Englandtorian England saw great expansion of wealth, power, and culture. In religion the Victorians experienced a great age of doubt: the Catholicism of the Oxford movement, the Evangelical movement, the spread of the Broad Church, the rise of the Unitarianism. In ideology, politics, and society, the Victorians created astounding innovation and change: democracy, feminism, unionization of workers, socialism, Darwinism, and scientific agnosticism.

Victorian age is conventionally divided into three periods.

The early period (1837–1848) is defined as the time of troubles in English society. A severe depression, with widespread unemployment, led to rioting. But even without the provocation of unemployment, conditions in the new industrial areas were terrible enough to create fears of revolution. In 1838 the organization of working men, Chartists, drew up a “People’s Charter” advocating the extension of right to vote, the use of secret balloting, and other legislative reforms. For ten years the Chartist leaders engaged in agitation to have their program adopted by Parliament. In Locksley Hall Tennyson pictured the threat posed by this time of troubles: “Slowly comes a hungry people, as a lion, creeping higher, /Glares at one that nods and winks behind a slowly dying fire”. Carlyle wrote in his Past and Present: “Insurrection is a most sad necessity”. Vivid records of the contradiction in the English society are found in the fiction of Charles Kingsley, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Benjamin Disraeli, a novelist who became prime minister. For his novel Sybil (1845), Disraeli chose an appropriate subtitle, The Two Nations – a phrase that pointed out the line dividing the England of the rich from the other nation, the England of the poor.

The mid-Victorian period (1848–1870) also had many problems but it was a time of economical prosperity. On the whole its institutions worked well. Even the results of the war against Russia in the Crimea did not seriously affect the growing sense of satisfaction that the difficulties of the 1840s had been solved or would be solved by English wisdom and energy. When we speak of Victorian complacency or stability or optimism, we are usually referring to this mid-Victorian phase –“The Age of Improvement”. In 1851 Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, opened the Great Exhibition is Hyde Park where the Crystal Palace had been erected to display the exhibits of modern industry and science. As Disraeli wrote to a friend in 1862: “It’s a privilege to live in this age of rapid and brilliant events”.

Pride in technological progress, however, is only one element of the mid-Victorian period. Equally significant is the conflict between religion and science. This conflict was not altogether a new one. These debates had been generally between the Utilitarians, the followers of Jeremy Bentham, and the philosophical conservatives, the followers of James Taylor Coleridge. The aim of the Utilitarians was to test all institutions in the light of human reason to determine whether such institutions were useful, whether they contributed to the greatest happiness of the greatest numbers. The application of the test to the Church of England and to religious belief in general proved to the Utilitarians that religion was an outmoded superstition.

Opponents of Utilitarianism argued that Bentham’s view of human nature was unrealistically narrow and that if reason seemed to demonstrate irrelevance of religion then reason must be an inadequate mode of arriving at truth. The anti-Utilitarians were of two types. The first were such as Carlyle who abandoned institutional Christianity yet sought to retain some substitute religious belief. Others, led by John Henry Newman, argued that only powerful, dogmatic, and traditional religion could withstand the attacks of the Utilitarians. In the 1830s–1840s, Newman became the leader of the impressive crusade to strengthen the Church of England, the Oxford movement (as it originated at Oxford University). Newman’s company produced a lively controversy.

In mid-Victorian England these controversies continued with an added intensification. Leadership in the anticlerical position passed gradually from the Utilitarians to the leaders of science, in particular to Thomas Henry Huxley, who popularized the theories of Charles Darwin. The scientific approach was applied towards a study of the Bible itself. This kind of investigation was known as the “Higher Criticism”. Scholars examined the Bible as the mere text of history and presented evidence that believers found disconcerting. A vivid example of such studies was David Freidrich Strauss’s Das Leben Jesu, which was translated by George Eliot in 1846 as The Life of Jesus. Darwin’s theory of natural selection, presented in The Origin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871) conflicted not only with the concept of creation derived from the Bible but also with long-established assumptions of the values attached to humanity’s special role in the world.

The late Victorian period (1870–1901) is more difficult to categorize. For many Victorians it was a time of serenity and security, the age of house parties and long weekends in the country, as can be seen in Henry James’s prose. Yet as the leading social critic of the 1860s, Matthew Arnold, showed, there were anomalies in mid-Victorian England, and after 1870 they became evident. Such flaws were relations with the Irish and the status of Roman Catholics in England. Outside of England were other developments that challenged Victorian stability and security. The emergence of Bismarck’s Germany after the defeat of France in 1871 confronted England with threats to its naval and military position and to its pre-eminence in trade and industry. The recovery the United States from the Civil War likewise provided competition not only in industry but also in agriculture. Another threat to the domestic balance of power was the growth of labour as the political and economic force. In the 1867, under Disraeli’s guidance, a second Reform Bill extended the right to vote to the working class and this, together with the subsequent development of trade unions, made labour a political force to be reckoned with. The Labour Party represented different shades of socialism. Some labour leaders were disciples of the socialism of John Ruskin and shared his conviction that the middle-class economic and political system was irresponsible and immoral. Others were influenced by the revolutionary theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Among them was the poet and painter William Morris, who believed that utopia could be achieved only after working class had, by revolution, taken control of government.

Distinctive features of Victorian literature. The Victorian Age was unique for its solidity of purpose and outlook, and its tremendous energies and achievements. For perhaps the first time there was a considerable community of interests and opinions between writers and their readers, as well as the sense of common existence and shared direction. A characteristic feature of the Victorians is their sense of responsibility, which differentiates them from their immediate predecessors, the Romantics. The Victorian literature is addressed to the needs of the age. It was predominantly a literature of ideas directly related with the daily concerns of the public. Many original thinkers in the period turned aside from their fields of special knowledge to adapt their theories to the level of the general public. The writers chose themes taking into account their social significance. Though Romantic forms of expression in poetry and prose continued to dominate English literature through much of the century, the attention of many writers was directed to such issues as the growth of English democracy, the education of the masses, the progress of industrial enterprise and the consequent rise of a materialistic philosophy, and the plight of the newly industrialized worker. The unsettling of religious belief by new advances in science and the historical study of the Bible drew many writers away from the immemorial subjects of literature into considerations of problems of faith and truth.

The reading public was increasingly growing in number. One reason for this was the enormous growth in the middle classes. These sections of society, although consisting of many strata and heavily criticized on many sides for their complacency and vulgarity, were avid consumers of literature. Circulating libraries continued to play an important role in the spread of literature, not all of which has stood the test of time on account of excessive sentimentality and crude moralizing. On the other hand, the age abounded in serious periodicals dealing increasingly with political and social issues. A great deal of Victorian literature was first published in the pages of periodicals. Reviewers had a strong influence on the reception given to literary works and contributed greatly to the formation of public opinion. There was a sense of partnership between Victorian writers and readers. This close relationship is also demonstrated by the admiration, love and awe which writers of the age commanded in their readers.

In much of literature of the final phase of Victorianism one can sense an overall change of attitudes. Some of the late Victorian writers expressed the change openly by attacking the major mid-Victorian idols. Samuel Butler, for example, set about demolishing Darwin, Tennyson, and Prime Minister Gladstone. In his novel The Way of All Flesh Butler satirizes family life, in particular the tyranny of a Victorian father. More typical were Walter Pater and his followers. They concluded that the strivings of their predecessors were ultimately pointless, that the answers to our problems are not to be found, and that our role is to enjoy the fleeting moments of beauty in “this short day of frost and sun”.

The changes in attitude became much more conspicuous in the 1890s. Although throughout the empire at its outposts in India and Africa the English were working with the same energy as in the mid-Victorian period (the stories of such people are variously recorded by Kipling and Conrad), back in England Victorian standards were breaking down on several fronts. Artists representing Aesthetic movement cultivated a deliberately fin-de-siecle (“end-of-century”) pose: a studied languor, a weary sophistication, a search for new pleasures. The aesthetism of 1890s is represented in The Yellow Book, a periodical that ran from 1894 to 1897. In 1893 an Austrian critic, Max Mordan, summed up what seemed to him to be happening, in a book that was as sensational as its title: Degeneration.

From the perspective of the 20th century, however, it is easy to see in the 1890s the beginning of the modernist movement in literature. A number of the great writers of the 20th century were already publishing. In his essay ^ The Nineties Helmut Herber offers a useful generalization to the feelings at the turn of centuries: “human beings, but artists in particular, are infected by a sense of death, decay, agony, old gods falling, cultural decline, on the one hand, or by a sense of regeneration… on the other”. In Dickens’s David Copperfield (1850) the hero affirms: “I have always been thoroughly in earnest”. 45 years later Oscar Wilde’s comedy The Importance of Being Earnest uses the words “earnest” in a pun, turning earlier Victorian values upside down.

^ Victorian prose. Many writers of the Victorian Age became preoccupied with the lack of spiritual direction of the burgeoning middle classes. John Ruskin (1819-1900) in such works as The Stones of Venice and Modern Painters emphasized the virtues of art and literature in order to offset the blind materialistic drive of the age. The major critic of the age was Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), who, in his classic works Culture and Anarchy and Literature and Dogma, voiced the dismay about the ignorance of masses and developed ideas for the illumination of the middle classes. Leslie Stephen (1832-1904), Virginia Woolf’s father, was also influential cultural and literary critic.

The biography was a genre in which the Victorians excelled, although to modern eyes these biographies seem to be extremely reticent about the details of private life while placing too much emphasis on the qualities considered “noble “ during the period.

But it was the novel that gradually became the dominant genre in literature during the Victorian age. A fairly constant accompaniment of this development was the yielding of Romanticism to literary realism, the accurate observation of individual problems and social relationships. The close observation of a restricted social milieu in the novels of Jane Austen early in the century had been a harbinger of what was to come. The novels of contemporary life by Charles Dickens (1812-1870) (Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend) exhibit an astonishing ability to create living characters; his graphic exposures of social evils and his powers of caricature and humour won him a vast readership. William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863), on the other hand, indulged less in the sentimentality sometimes found in Dickens’s works. He was capable of greater subtlety of characterization; nevertheless, the restriction of concern in Thackeray’s novels to middle- and upper-class life, and his lesser creative power, render him second to Dickens in many readers’ minds.

Other important figures in the mainstream of the Victorian novel were notable for a variety of reasons. ^ Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) was distinguished for his gently ironic survey of English ecclesiastical and political circles; Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855) and Emily Brontë (1818-1848) for their penetrating study of passionate character; George Eliot (1819-1880), for her responsible idealism; George Meredith (1828-1909), for a sophisticated, detached, and ironical view of human nature; and Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), for a profoundly pessimistic sense of human subjection to fate and circumstance. One of the overall trends of the period was the development, under the influence of the nineteenth-century French and Russian novels, of the English novel from an episodic structure, seemingly without a plan, to what Henry James called “an organized, moulded, balanced composition, gratifying the reader with a sense of design and construction”. This tendency may be clearly seen in Dickens’s evolution from The Pickwick Papers to Hard Times or Bleak House.

A younger group of novelists, many of whom continued their work into the 20th century, display two new tendencies. Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, and Joseph Conrad tried in various ways to restore the spirit of romance to the novel, in part by a choice of exotic locale, in part through plots of adventure and action. Kipling attained fame also for his verse and for his mastery of the single, concentrated effect in the short story. Another tendency was common to Arnold Bennett, John Galsworthy, and H. G. Wells. These novelists attempted to represent the life of their time with great accuracy and in a critical, partly propagandistic spirit. Wells’s novels, for example, are sociological investigations of the ills of modern civilization rather than self-contained stories.

^ Victorian poetry. The notable poets of the Victorian age are similarly absorbed in social issues. Lord Alfred Tennyson’s (1809-1892) poetry is dedicated, to problems of religious faith, social change, and political power. All the characteristic moods of his poetry, from brooding splendour to lyrical sweetness, are expressed with smooth technical mastery. His style, as well as his peculiarly English conservatism, stands in some contrast to the intellectuality and harshness of the poetry of Robert Browning (1812-1889) who provided more vividness and sense of immediate reality producing lyrics in a variety of forms. His dramatic monologues are more intellectual exercises. Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), the third of these famous mid-Victorian poets, stands apart from them as a more subtle and balanced thinker; his literary criticism (Essays in Criticism) is the most remarkable written in Victorian times. His poetry displays a sorrowful, disillusioned pessimism over the human plight in rapidly changing times a pessimism countered, however, by a strong sense of duty. Technically Victorian poetry is often very accomplished, but critics state that the quality of its inspiration shows Romantic influence and there is a distinct lack of variety and power. A figure who stands apart from the mainstream is the Jesuit Gerald Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), whose original use of alliterative rhythms in a striking devotional form of poetry was to have great influence on Modernism when his works were published posthumously in the twentieth century.

^ JOHN RUSKIN (1819 – 1900)

Ruskin wrote mostly in the early and mid-Victorian periods and had an enormous influence on the ideology of his time as a literary critic and economist. At 24 he published the first volume of Modern Painters, criticism on Turner’s painting. The prose of Ruskin’s, not only his ideas, was something new in Victorian age. The sentences are long but easy to follow and laden with imagery and colour. With the second volume of Modern Painters (1846) Ruskin decides that mere form and colour are not enough to achieve the highest reaches in art. The Seven Lamps of Architecture are written in defence of Gothic architecture. The theme is continued in The Stones of Venice (1851–53) where the author states that the architecture of Renaissance was the product of moral corruption and dishonesty. The superiority of the Gothic is due to the burning faith of the Middle Ages. Ruskin’s description of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice is considered to be one the best passages in English prose.

For the Cornhill Magazine he wrote a series of articles Unto This Last (1860) where he attacks materialism of his age and the classical economics which defends things as they are. He urges for government trade schools, government factories for the unemployed and government provision for the old and poverty stricken.

^ In Sesame and Lilies (1865) which includes three lectures (Sesame, of King’s Treasures; Lilies, of Queen’s Gardens) and the Mystery of Life and Its Arts he deals with education, reading, the place of woman in society; exposes the indifference of humanity to the meaning and purpose of life. In Clavigera (1871-74), a series of letters to the working men of England, Ruskin says: “I simply cannot paint, nor read, nor look at minerals, nor do anything else I like; and the very light of the morning sky… has become hateful to me, because of the misery that I know of”.

^ CHARLES DICKENS (1812-1870)

Dickens is one of the greatest English writers of all times. Critics have had extreme difficulty in putting their finger on the secret of his greatness, since his work seems to defy any rational analysis. On the other hand, he is the most typical writer of the Victorian era. He was conscious of his social responsibility, and his novels depicted the hypocrisy and contradictions inherent in the system and were important in the creation of pressure for social reform. The early social-problem novels of the Victorian age tended to be didactic in their overall effect and it was only with the advent of Dickens that a truly satisfying blend of social criticism, humour and compassion appeared.

Dickens was born near Portsmouth on the southern coast on England into the family of a clerk of the naval station. Later the family moved to Chatham and then, in 1822, to London. Soon the father lost his job and was imprisoned for debt in the Marshalsea debtors’ prison where he was joined by all the family except Charles, the eldest son. Charles Dickens was put to work in Warren’s Blacking Factory. Later he described his experience at the factory in David Copperfield, while his impressions of the prison where he visited his family on Sundays, served as the material for Pickwick Papers and Little Dorrit. His brief stay at the Blacking Factory haunted him all of his life – he spoke of it only to his wife and to his closest friend, John Forster – but the dark secret became the source both of creative energy and of the preoccupation with the themes of alienation and betrayal. The following year the family inherited a small sum of money after the death of a relative and was able to pay all the debts. For a short time Charles Dickens could go to school again. But at the age of 15 he was sent to a lawyer’s office to study law. There he learnt shorthand, which later helped him find a job of a newspaper reporter. To compensate for the lack of formal education Dickens regularly studied at the British Museum reading-room. In 1832 he became a parliamentary reporter and in 1833 he began contributing stories and descriptive essays to magazines and newspapers. In 1836 they were reprinted as Sketches by “Boz”. Some weeks later the first instalment of Pickwick Papers appeared.

Soon Pickwick was the rage and Dickens, the most popular writer of the day. Pickwick began as a farce and had many conventional comic butts and traditional jokes. It is indebted to his contemporary theatre, the 18th century English novelists, and a few foreign classics. But besides giving new life to old stereotypes, Pickwick displayed many of the features that were to be blended throughout Dickens’ fiction: attacks on social evils and inadequate social institutions, an encyclopaedic knowledge of London, pathos, and inexhaustible powers of character creation. Dickens seemed to see things differently, in an amusing and exaggerated way. He dashed character after character, rejoicing in the language he put in their mouths, a language so rich in comic invention as to have a lyrical quality almost of poetry. Mr. Pickwick undergoes trial for breach of promise, he is robbed by rogues, charlatans and snobs run riot through the book. Yet the world of Pickwick is the world of fairy-tale. Crudities and miseries of the real world are sterilized by humour. Though Pickwick Papers contains many weak passages, the novel not only established Dickens overnight and created a new tradition of popular literature, but also survived as one of the best-known books in the world due to its expression of a comic view of life.

In the books that followed pathos began to intrude on humour. Dickens, appalled by the cruelty of his time, felt that he must convey a message through fiction to his hard-hearted generation. Though still containing much comedy Oliver Twist, serialized in 1837-39, is more concerned with social and moral evil presented in the pictures of the workhouse and the criminal world and culminating in Sykes’s murdering Nancy and Fagin’s last night in the condemned cell at Newgate. In 1838-39 Dickens serialized Nicholas Nickleby, in 1840-41, The Old Curiosity Shop and in 1841, Barnaby Rudge. Nicholas Nickleby reverted to the Pickwick shape and atmosphere, though the indictment of the brutal Yorkshire schools continued the important innovation seen in Oliver Twist – the spectacle of the lost and oppressed child as an occasion for pathos and social criticism. This was amplified in The Old Curiosity Shop, where the death of Little Nell, overwhelmingly powerful at the time, a few decades later became a byword for “Victorian sentimentality”. In Barnaby Rudge Dickens attempted a historical novel set in the late 18th century.

On the whole, the first period of Dickens creative work (1833-41) is characterized by humour and optimism. His heroes and heroines are remarkable for their fortitude. To remain true to their principles of honour they are willing to live in poverty and to work hard. Finally evil is conquered and their virtue is rewarded.

The novels of the first period were published in instalments. Sometimes Dickens had to work at two or three books at a time. Exhausted at last, he took a five-month vacation in America. A radical critic of British institutions, he had expected more from “the republic of my imagination”, but he found more vulgarity and sharp practice to detest than social arrangement to admire. Some of these feelings appear in American Notes (1842) and Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-44) that initiate the second period of his work. Among the other books of this period are The Christmas Books (beginning with A Christmas Carol of 1843), Dombey and Son (1846-48), and David Copperfield (1849-50). In the novels of the first period published in serials it was difficult to create an artistic unity. In Martin Chuzzlewit Dickens tried to “keep a steadier eye upon the general purpose and design”, as he stated in the Preface. But it was the shorter Christmas Books that helped him obtain greater coherence. His view of life as presented in the Christmas Books was later to be described as “Christmas philosophy”. A Christmas Carol immediately entered the general consciousness. Thackeray, in a review, called it “a national benefit, and to every man and woman who reads it a personal kindness”. Other Christmas Books followed annually through 1867.

Dombey and Son was a crucial novel in Dickens’s development, a product of a more thorough planning and a mature thought. It poses eternal moral and religious questions as suggested by the child Paul’s first words in the story: “Papa, what’s money?” In the novel the symbol of the power of money is Mr. Dombey himself to whose pride of an English merchant everything must be sacrificed: affections, wife, children.Virtue and human decency are discovered (as elsewhere in Dickens) among the poor, humble, and simple. In Mr. Dombey is made a more serious internal characterization. Paul’s early death is another famous pathetic episode.

In the middle of 1840s Dickens began to hanker after more direct literary expression of what weighed upon his heart. He was, he said, “famous and careless and happy”. The darling of the public, with ”a dear wife and children”, a splendid house, and troops of devoted and admiring friends, yet he often found himself “wandering desolately back to that time of my life”. He felt more and more need to tell his readers about his childhood suffering and to come to terms with his painful private memories by doing so. He began working on David Copperfield.

At the same time^ David Copperfield was for Dickens a “ holiday ” from larger social concerns and is most notable for its childhood chapters, “ an enchanting vein which he had never found before and which he was never to find again ”, as a critic said. For this reason and for its autobiographical interest, it has always been among his most popular novels and Dickens himself called it his “favourite child”. Leo Tolstoy said that if you sift the world prose there will remain Dickens, and if you sift Dickens there will remain David Copperfield .The novel is written in the first person, a new technique for Dickens. When it was first published, the public believed it to be completely autobiographical. David, however, differs from his creator in many ways, though Dickens used many of his early experience – his period of work at the factory, while his father was jailed, his schooling and reading, his emergence from parliamentary reporting into successful novel writing. The Micawbers are much like Dickens’s own parents: John Dickens like Mr. Micawber had to move from place to place accompanied by failures and poverty, but he never was exasperated. Dora’s prototype was Maria Beadnell with whom Dickens had been desperately in love. Mr.Crickle was prompted by the headmaster of the school where Dickens studied after his father left the jail. In spite of all the hardships, David Copperfield does not lose faith in people. His instructor in life is the clever Betsy Trotwood who governs his actions and at the same time gives him the possibility to choose his own road. His true friends are common people – his nurse Peggoty and Mr. Peggoty, Emily and Ham.

^ David Copperfield is a novel about formation of a personality, written in the genre of Bildungsroman, a novel of reminiscence. It is an “educational” novel portraying the hero’s emotional, moral and spiritual development from the imprudence, romanticism and undisciplined passion of youth to the supposed emotional stability and wisdom of maturity – an artistic ordering of life which had obvious appeal to the Victorians with their cult of earnestness and self-improvement. . The theme of upbringing in the novel is connected not only with the life story of David, but is also developed in Steerford and Uriah Heap, Emily and Ham. Their fates are different but they are all victims of the existing educational systems and legalized social injustice.

The novel is built on complex patterns of paralleling, doubling and contrasting of characters and roles. Uriah Heep, like David, is fatherless and doted on by his mother, both rise in the world by industry and diligence. Among other contrasting or doubling figures are the two the two women called Clara (his real mother and his nurse, Peggoty); Dora and Agnes; Agnes and Steerford; Steerford and Traddles; Steerford and David; Betsy Trotwood and Miss Murdstone, Emily and Martha Endell, Clara Copperfield and Dora Spenlow,

^ David Copperfield is the most poetic of all Dickens’ novels. Written in the present tense and relating of the events long since past and of many who are dead but still present to the narrator, the novel is a great celebration of the permanence of the past in the present

.During the second period of Dicken’s work he was actively involved in public work. He was reckoned to be the best afterdinner speaker of the age and the best amateur actor. In R. H. Horne’s ^ New Spirit of Age (1844) Dickens occupies the first and longest chapter: “His influence upon his age is extensive – pleasurable, instructive, healthy, reformatory …”. Dickens also loved family life. He had married in 1836 Cathrine Hogarth. To his nine children he was a delightful father, at least when they were young; relations with them proved less happy during their adolescence.

The 1850s – 1860s form the third period of Dickens’s creative activity. The novels of this time were much “darker “than their predecessors. The satire is harsher, the humour less genial and abundant, the happy endings more subdued than in the early fiction. Technically the later novels are more coherent, themes are often expressed through imagery or symbols, such as the fog in Bleak House (1853), or the prison in Little Dorrit (1857). Characterization is more subordinate to the general purpose and design and is more complex. Dickens uses fiction as a vehicle for more concentrated sociological argument. The plot enabled him to represent in the mirror of his own world a fuller picture of the society of his day than any English novelist had achieved before or has achieved since.

A Tale of Two Cities (1859), like Barnaby Rudge of the first period, is devoted to the French Revolution and presents with vigour and ambivalence of attitude the spectacle of large–scale mob violence. It has less characterization, dialogue and humour than other novels by Dickens.

Great Expectations (1861) is Dickens’ second semi-autobiographical novel (though written in a much more melancholy mood than ^ David Copperfield) and another variant on the theme of money as the agent of isolation. The main hero, Pip, is cut off from those nearest and most loyal to him, by the expectation of money. It’s the final irony of his fate that the money to which he owns everything is ill-gotten. Pip`s mind is explored with great subtlety. His development through a childhood and youth beset with hard tests of character is traced critically but sympathetically. Various “great expectations” in the book prove to have been ill-founded – both personal and social.

Our Mutual Friend (1864-65) continues the critique of monetary and class values. London is presented grimmer than ever before; the corruption and complacency of “respectable” society are furiously attacked.

From 1861 till 1870 Dickens regularly undertook public readings. Dickens’s last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, was left unfinished. He suffered a stroke after a full day’s work on the novel and died the next day. Dickens was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Dickens continues to be viewed as one of the major English writers. What is the secret of his success? His work is inconsistent: passages of great mastery, supreme originality ad comic genius can be found alongside some of the cheapest and tedious sentimentality. Certainly, the demands of writing a novel in instalments put on him irresistible pressure Besides there was his social commitment: his vision of the workhouse in Oliver Twist or the educational system and the industrial town in Hard Times were instrumental in creating public pressure for reform. The originality of his novels cannot be denied. True to his general character of independence he owes hardly anything to any predecessor with the possible exception of Smollett. He had no regular education and never became a man of wide learning but he carried the feeling of independence into art and politics. Some critics remark that Dickens’s knowledge was limited, his logical faculties not very strong; while attempting to satirize the upper classes, he never drew a single aristocrat, high government official or “big-wig” generally, who presents the remotest resemblance to a living being. But he knew the lower and lower middle classes of his day with wonderful accuracy and moreover he possessed an imagination, now humorous, now terrible, now simply grotesque, of a range and volume rarely equalled, and of a quality which stands entirely by itself. His characters are not quite real in the sense that we never meet anybody like them in the actual world. But they behave according to their own laws, they are consistent with their own surrounding. And in this way they acquire reality in the world that Dickens created.

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