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Victorian literature refers to the body of literary work produced during the reign of Queen Victoria in England (1837-1901). This era forms a transitional link between the preceding Romantic literature and the succeeding modernism and early modern literature. In this manner, the writing of this age reflects elements of both romantic and realistic writing. One of the significant events which influenced Victorian literature was the industrial revolution. With the gradual decrease in agrarian society, the cities came to the forefront of socio-economic platforms and changed the paradigm which was set by the romantic era and its writers. Literature emerged as a major tool of criticism for social and cultural utilitarianism. The central themes of literary works focused on the rise of technology, scientific advancement and social issues related to common issues.
Writers wrote extensively in the genres of novel and poetry. Novels became extremely popular in the Victorian era as the printing press facilitated mass publication of works written by authors such as Charles Dickens, Bronte sisters and Thomas Hardy among others. The novels incorporated various elements such as social satire and corruption which formed the basis of critique and evaluation of the Victorian society. Moralistic viewpoint and idealistic portrayal of real life experiences built the foundation of Victorian fiction which later complicated the paradoxical nature of society as the century advanced.
Notable works such as ‘Hard Times’ (Charles Dickens), ‘Jane Eyre’(Charlotte Bronte), ‘Mill On The Floss’ (George Elliot) or ‘Origin of the Species’ (Charles Darwin) recount and illustrate multiple issues prevalent in the Victorian era in terms of social and scientific evolution. Victorian poetry incorporated the classic tales of chivalrous romance and social commentary to raise contemporary issues in the Victorian England. These works represented the cultural mores of Victorian England which still find resonance in the modern contemporary scenario.