Английский викторианский «женский роман» (сестры Бронте, Дж. Элиот).
Викторианская эпоха. Идеология, этика и эстетика. Критический реализм как ведущий метод эпохи. Творчество женщин – романисток (Э. Бронте, Ш.Бронте, Дж. Элиот).
Victorian literature is the literature produced during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837—1901) and corresponds to the Victorian era. It forms a link and transition between the writers of the romantic period and the very different literature of the 20th century. It is a successful period fro Britain, her colonies flourished, the country started to be Great Empire. The Victorian Age is very contrastive period: on the one hand we see strength, richness, luxurious architecture, growth of the cities, factories, new inventions, on the other hands classes are opposed to each other –there were a lot of poor people. Though working-houses, orphanages are organized, the atmosphere there was inhuman; it didn’t help much, unemployment, robbery increased. Also moral and values were formed by the Protestant Church, it played important role.
The main method of this period is realism. The 19th century saw the novel become the leading form of literature in English.
The first English women writers were Ann Radcliff with her gothic novels and Jane Austen who is a pre-Victorian writer. The position of women was very difficult. A woman was a wife and a mother, if not a person attached to some family without social life, personal rights, otherwise she was considered immoral. It was hard for a woman to express her feelings.
The difference of women’s literature is in topics of discussion. First of all they started to write about themselves. Then they differ from men-writers on the style, their books contain much more routine details, they have a romantic effect. Women paid attention the moral conflicts of the heroes; they depicted social inequality, the problem of moral choice. Nature played very important role and served to show psychological state of the hero.
Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) has her husband’s name. She was interested to social problems of the society. Her novel “Mary Barton, a Tale of Manchester life” (1848) depicted the events of the strikes. It is realistic depiction of life of working people. Her novel “North and South” (1855) is connected with the problems of class struggle, she tries to express her wish to compromise between employers and employees, it is written in the genre of social utopia.
George Eliot (1819-1880) – Mary Ann Evans came form low middle class family, she was well educated, wasn’t married and that’s why used pseudonym. She was acquainted with many philosophers (Spenser) who influenced her.
“Adam Bede” 1859 is a novel about contemporary Britain. There she started to work out the principle of naturalism. “The Mill on the Floss” (1860) deals with the problems of inherited qualities of the person. She tries to put them together with the questions of philosophy and religion. The main heroine is Maggie, a traditional image of a young lady in Victorian Period, she is not beautiful, passionate with red hair. Her nature predominates in her life. “Sailas Marner” 1861 shows a force of pure love (father’s love). “Middlemarch” 1872 is the description of routine life of a small town, we move form house to house, like a journal.
The Bronte family had 3 sisters:
Anne Bronte (Acton Bell) 1820-1849. She wrote “Agnes Grey 1847, “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” 1848.
Two sisters are more known to the readers.
Emily Bronte (Ellis Bell) 1820-1849
Her novel “Wuthering Hights” 1847. This novel is quite unusual, it can be perceived as a romantic gothic novel. But still it has deeper psychological analysis.
The narrative is non-linear, involving several flashbacks to events in the past, and involves two narrators - Mr Lockwood and Nelly Dean, whose stories are interwoven with each other. We should note that Nelly is a servant, she is part of the family on the one hand, but she keeps distance from the master on the other hand. This makes the story new to the reader.
The novel itself opens in 1801, with Lockwood arrived at Thrushcross Grange, being ill and asks Nelly to tell him the story of Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights. These places are gloomy, a typical romantic and gothic landscape, they are the reflection of their owner – Heathcliff.
The characters are bright and complex. Heathcliff is a typical romantic hero, an orphan, fell in love with foster sister and a rival with brother. He can be called a villain (having the corresponding appearance, behaviour), but he is in love with a kind-hearted woman. Edgar Linton is opposed to him, being a mild, weak-willed person, a coward. Much attention is given to the role of alcohol in their lives. Hindley is ruined by it, Heathcliff uses it as a comfort or a method of revenging and destroying his enemies. As for the female images, they are struggling with inner conflicts (connected with their love and their natural features – Catherine is more like a wild, free Heathcliff but also a social creature – she married Linton), but they undergo spiritual deaths and get nearly crazy.
As for the style we have a lot of pauses, this is also because there are several years missing in the narration. On the one hand it is close to romantic tradition (fragmentary composition), on the other it dramatizes it. There are romantic and symbolic names: Wuthering Hights, Thrushcross (дрозд), Heathcliff.
Charlotte Bronte 1816 – 1855 (Curer Bell)
The Teacher 1847, Villette 1853 – they are about her studies at Brussels, French. “Shirley” 1849 is a social novel close to Gaskell’s novels, the main heroine is a working woman.
Jane Eyre 1847
This novel describes a position of a woman in Victorian age.
Background: no parents, cruel aunt. Red-hair = passionate. Then she gets “the family” in St John Rivers and Rosamond, Mary, Diana – brothers, sisters.
Struggle between duty and love – John, Jane. Struggle with prejudices, high society; the problem of honesty
The problem of education, especially religious. Mr. Brocklehurst. Religion - This is the first step we notice that goes contra the Christian religion – its main principle of humility – at her home. At the moment in the novel Charlotte Bronte starts to develop the other idea of Christianity, one of its commandments – not to tell lies. Which is further developed in Lowood school and in case of Mr. Rochester. Helen Burns – try to find positive sides, do not answer to cruelty.
From this time Jane began to understand what real love is, closer to passion. And again her natured acquired an inner conflict between love and duty. But external circumstances ( I mean the discovery of Rochester’s wife) gave Jane powers to make her moral choice – to be happiness but not live in lie.
Living in the family of a priest she observes the inner relations: St John and his sisters treat each other with respect, sincerity but Jane could not understand how a priest could have offered marriage without love. Thus I may come to the conclusion that in the basis of the novel lays simple commandments that are the main principles of life. It is love for your parents, neighbors, it is humility, a person must not be only “good to those who are good to him, but to everyone”. Happiness can be gained only through sincere sufferings and purification of the soul. The motive of telling lies is also very important here. But besides all these things, Charlotte Bronte depicts some things for the first time in literature: she openly tells about passionate love of a lady of Victorian age, she states that you must not blindly follow the religion but understand it and analyze it. She states the equal position of women and men at work and in the family.
She underlines one of the Christian principles: inner beauty is much more important than outer beauty. So the love of Jane and Rochester is a sincere feeling. Then the love and happiness can be achieved by the purification of the soul.
Symbols – nature, house Thornfield, moon. Biblical symbols – blindnees, fire, John.
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