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THE VICTORIAN AGE 1837-1901
THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT
QUEEN VICTORIA: she ascended the throne in 1837. her young age and her inexperience facilitated the establishment of a constitutional monarchy with the government in the hands of parliament alternately led by conservative and liberal.
INDUSTRAILIZATION AND SOCIAL CONFLICT: the process of industrialisation went on unhindered. But harsh working conditions n factories, high food price and economic depression caused much discontent among the labours who organized themselves into working class movement.
CHARTISM: the chartists, a group pf radical and workers, in the 1838 presented to parliament a document called the people’s charter advocating a radical reform of parliament to bring a true democracy to the country. The charter was rejected and the movement disappeared.
WORKER’S RIGHT: workers had to wait to the reform bill of 1867 to be able to vote (enfranchised) and for the trade union act of 1871 to have their union legalised.
FAMINE IN IRELAND: the failure of the potato harvest in 1845 caused a terrible famine that killed thousand people and caused massive emigration.
CORN LAWS: workers and middle calls people protest for the price of corn which was kept very high by the corn laws because of the strong opposition of the landowners who had a lot of power in parliament. 1846 the laws were repealed. This event had:
• political consequences: it brought the Whigs ( liberals) to the power
• economical consequences: better productions and prosperity to the farmers.
Another positive result was that England wasn’t affected by the revolutionary movements of 1848.
POLITICAL PROBLEMS IN IRELAND: Irish roman Catholics had demanded political reform and equal civil rights as the Irish protestant. Their claims became even more pressing and political trouble was a constant problem.
THE CRIMEAN WAR: the peace begun in waterloo was suddenly broken in 1854 by the Crimean war. The war demonstrated the inefficiency of the nation’s armed forces.
THE INFLUENCE OF J.S. MILL: after the second half of the century when the liberals were in power with Gladstone as prime minister , several reforms were introduced. The ideals of democracy became increasingly accepted under the influence of the political philosopher j.s.mill. although he accepted the basic principle of utilitarism( greatest happiness for the greatest number of people) he recognized the limits of the laissez-faire economic policy associated with it and argued the need for a certain balance between individual freedom and state intervention. The result was a series of parliamentary acts which gave the country modern services and institutions:
• universities for all men
• system of state primary school
• trade union legalised
THE GROWN OF THE EMPIRE: it continued to prosper and towards the end of the century it covered a quarter of the earth’s landsurface. In 1876 queen Victoria was proclaimed empress of India.
ECONOMIC DEPRESSION: in 1870 the country entered a period of political instability, social tension and economic depression because of the increased competition from other industrial countries, especially USA and Germany who erected tariff barriers. Britain’s economy, which much depended on exports, was deeply affected.
A MORE DEMOCRATIC NATION: the 2 reform bills 1884 and 1888 extended the vote to agricultural workers and miners. Those years saw also the growth of local government authorities.
THE IRISH QUESTION: it dominated the parliamentary scene until then end of Victorian age. 1886 and 1893 the reject of the proposal of the bills for Ireland home rule made the rise start to “ Sinn Fein”, an extreme nationalistic movement that demanded an independent republic.
QUENN VICTORIA DEATH: she died in 1901. she had restored the popularity of English crown.

THE SOCIAL CONTEXT
FROM AN AGRICULTAURAL TO AN INDUSTRIAL COUNTRY: Victorian age = age full of contradictions, of widespread industrialisation and extreme poverty and exploitation of factories workers and affluence for factory owners, of social reform, of scientific discoveries and religious problems. The industrialisation transformed England from an agricultural into a industrial country.
URBANISATION: this transformation resulted in the migration of rural people to the industrial areas in search for jobs. Many cities of north and midlands, the most industrialised, were created in that period. The population of London and other industrial cities doubled. But this brought to an intolerable overcrowding. Houses were mainly built back to back and side by side. They had no lavatories, no sewers ( fogna), non piped water. Destitute workers live in moist and airless cellars.
Because of the bed sanitary conditions typhus and cholera were very common.
LIBERALISM: the political philosophy pursued was liberalism which defended the freedom of the individual from any external restrains likely to prevent the complete realisation of his or her potential. The economic theory of free trade was an important aspect. It advocated an unlimited competition and object to any interference by government in industry or commerce. This led to the subordination to industrial or commercial interests of labourers’ human interests.
EXPLOITATION OF WORKERS: industrialisation meant the ruthless exploitation of workers, both of men and women and children. They worked up to 16 or 16 hours a day and were very badly paid. Women were employed in brickyards, in potteries and sulphur poisoning undermined their health. Very young children were exploited in textile mills and mines. The gulf separating between the rich and the poor was so deep that the prime minister Benjamin Disraeli and many contemporary novelists criticized the desperate situation of the working classes.
VICTORIAN SOCIETY: the living conditions of the other social classes were quite different. The nation could be divided into: aristocracy, mainly large landowners who held power in parliament, the middle class whoso increasing wealth were opening the way to power, and the working class. Industrialization and technological progress further advanced the position of the meddle class. By the end of the century they held the power previously held by the aristocracy and class distinctions became more financial than hereditary.
THE COUNTRY’S INCREASED WEALTH: the period between 1850 and 1870 was one of relative stability. In 1851 the great exhibition of industry illustrated the eminence of English industry among European nations.
THE MIDDLE CALSSES: the Victorian middle classes were very proud of nation’s triumphs in technology and engineering. Optimist was their dominant mood. They believed their way of life could be exported to all parts of the growing empire. Their material progress, their interest in making money and reaching a respectable position was also reflected in the houses they lived in. there was a proliferation of decorations in buildings and an accumulation of pieces of furniture and ornaments inside Victorian houses.
MIDDLE CLASS VALUES: dominated Victorian Britain. They were:
• respectability
• good manners
• parsimony
• duty
• hard work
• faith in material progress
there was a strong belief in the family, usually large where the fathre’s authority was unquestioned. Women were guarded by their parents till marriage and there was a prudish attitude towards sex; lady was supposed to live in ignorance of it. Girls spent their time reading novels, playing piano, embroidering… so marriage was their dream.
The other side was represented by
• prostitution
• illegitimacy
• very high crime figures.
THE FORMATION OF THE RULING CLASS: boys went to public schools which provided education for the elite. The main aim was to turn out gentlemen, future heads: the future ruling class
REFORMS: the situation of workers improved because of the introduction of several bills by the government:
• 1847 / 1867 factory acts: regulated child labour in factories.
• 1842: mines act: forbade the employment of children under ten and women underground
• 1870 education act: provided a system of state primary schools.
TRADE UNIONISM: by the 187o the trade union was accepted and recognised both by employers and government. The 1880 and 1890 saw the spreading of trade union also among the poorest and most exploited workers. After a reform bill a liberal-labour alliance allowed a few labour candidates to be elected on the liberal list and a special conference of representatives from various working class organisations was called in order to find a way for securing an increased number of labour members in parliament. The result was the forming of the labour representation committee which became the labour party in 1906.
SOCIALISM: the Victorian age wasn’t a period of political revolution. Socialism in Britain never really broke put of the middle class circle of intellectuals like Marx and Engels to influence the working classes. In England there were several socialist organisations that demanded fundamental changes in society. But it was evolutionary and advocated gradual reform. The Fabian society, founded in 1884, preferred discussion and conferences to violent changes and tied to gain social reforms through political actions.
THE PLIGHT OF THE WORKING CLASSES: in the 1880 the social complacency of the middle class was shaken by a changed public interest in the difficulties of the working classes: poverty and overcrowding, immorality… claims for state intervention and for social reform came from the political parties as well as the socialists.
CHANGE IN WOMEN’S POSITION: at the beginning of the century middle-class women had to hand their property and money over to their husband on marriage and they could earn money only teaching or writing. But by the end of the century there were schools and colleges for women and they acquired to enter various profession.

THE CULTURAL CONTEXT
VALUES OF THE VICTORIAN AGE: vedi sopra. They were all reflected in the themes of the novel which became the main form of entertainment of the middle-class. Reading novel was also a communal activity. They were read aloud in the home by one member of the family to everybody, servants included. Many books were published, bought and many wealthy family had their own libraries. But moreover books were still borrowed from circulating libraries and became more easily accessible to the lower classes. Reading was a pass-time especially for women; men were more interested in essays. Fiction was also published in magazines. What was published had to conform to the taste of the reading public.
VICTORIAN ESSAYITS: they wrote about the topical problems of the period. Many of them criticised the materialism, the values and attitudes of the middle-class and the predominant economic theory.
SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS: there were great progress in all branches of science that greatly improved the industrial process. But that also shook Victorian religious beliefs. Charles Lyell in “principles of geology” demonstrated that there were a natural explanation for all geological phenomena and that the age of the earth was much older than the one suggested by the bible.
CHARLES DARWIN: his theories reforced the principals of the middle class( like hard work). he argued for a natural origin of men: as part of their struggle for existence on the earth creatures evolved into new species. This theory of the “ strongest survives” denied god’s design in the creation of living beings and discredited the account of that creation in the bible. This theory was considered blasphemous. Victorian protestant was deeply affected. But the middle-class refused to be shaken in their complacent optimism and traditional beliefs. They wanted to go on considering themselves as god’s creatures and social success as a proof of the divine grace. This Calvinist assumption justified their privileged position and allowed them to consider the poor as delinquents.
People debate about Darwin’s theories. There was a double attitude: accepted or rejected.

THE STORY OF ENGLISH
RECEIVED PRONUNCIATION: British society was based on class division. This division was also in the language: king’s English was the official accent. It was the language of aristocracy and was taught in the best schools like BBC and Oxford. Language was a key factor in recognising the belonging to a class.
the most important aspect in the development of the language in the V.A. was the emergence of the idea of the “queen English” of a received pronunciation, a spoken standard which was sign of belonging to the professional middle class. RP identified with the educated accent of London and the south-east England. That became the standard to which the lower classes should aspire if they were looking for social promotion.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE EDUCATIONAL ACT: the birthdate of RP can be fixed in 1870, when the educational act established that English public school, that became the mixture of upper and middle class speech and society. Non-standard English was the mark of the under-educated.
RP IN THE COLONIES: because of the need to educate and prepare staff for the imperial civil service overseas, RP was widely recognised throughout the colonies as the voice of authority.
REACTIONS TO RP: even of it encouraged imitations as a means of social promotion it also stimulated a distinct antipathy among many people who resented its implicit snobbery.
IRISH ENGLIS: in Ireland, irsh-gaelic culture had become almost totally submerged. Even the leaders of the independence movement believed that people had to learn the language of the enemy. By 1901 Irish English was spoken by the 85% of the population living in Ireland.
SCOTS: in Scotland Robert Louis Stevenson continued the revival of Scottish nationalism in his novels where he use Scots in the dialogue.

THE STORY OF BRITISH MUSIC
*Appunti chiara: during the V.A. the was local music that was pompous, celebrating the pride of England. Even in the field of music, Britain was celebrated
SPREAD OF MUSICAL CULTURE: in the Victorian age concert had rapidly developed as a cultural form of entertainment it was non supported by any original musical production.
FOREIGN INFLUENCE: this period was dominated by German romantic music, characterised by a close link with other forms of art, literature, painting and give rise to the composition of programme music: music which tells story or evokes pictures. This tendency culminated in the music dramas of Wagner. The composure who had the greatest impact on English music was Mendelssohn.
ENGLISH COMPOSERS: the 2 prominent composers were:
1. William sterndale bennet: wrote sacred music and oratorios
2. Robert Lucas Pearsall: an original composer
THE OPERA: the Italian opera continued to dominated the scene in England. The output was artistically very poor except the operas of Henry bishop.
ENGLISH MUSIC RENAISSANCE: the second half of the century saw a revival of English music. In 1885 august manns made the crystal palace a centre of music promotion. He introduced the orchestral composition of Schubert and Schumann and encouraged new composers. Promenade concerts were inaugurated at queen’s hall. They are known as proms.
ARTHUS S. SULLIVAN: the most prominent name in this revival is that of A. S.S. he began his musical career as a chorister but reached fame with his numerous light operas which he wrote in conjunction with his librettist W.S . Gilbert. He was a master of buffo style and had genius for parody. He made the English music international.
EDGAR W. ELGAR: was a self-taught musician. He came out as an original composer in 1899 with his enigma variations, a series of personal compositions for orchestra, followed by another masterpiece.

THE STORY OF BRITISH ART
GENRE PAINTING: most characteristic Victorian school: depicting everyday subjects and adapting them to a narrative approach. The Victorians loved detailed paintings that told a story ( Augustus egg) and huge crowed scenes, celebrating Victorian life. The master was William Powell frith: he illustrated the age in which he lived as effectively as photography. The existence of the royal academy acted simultaneously as a focus for British painters and as an institution for certain movements to react against.
PRE-RAPHAELITE BROTHERHOOD: founded in 1848 by Dante rossetti is the most important self-conscious movement which went against the traditionalism of the academy. They imitated the Italian art. Their paintings were to be true to nature, so they were characterised by:
• realistic poses of their characters
• careful botanic details of their flowers and plants
• fresh and brilliant colours
• use of images in a symbolic way: were commonly reproduced scenes from myths, literature.
• Scenes from inside of houses
• Subjects chosen from the past or religion as they claimed moral seriousness for art.
They were defended by john Ruskin, a very influential art critic, who advocated a reform of art against the cheap mass-production of the industrial revolution.
WILLIAM MORRIS: Ruskin’s ideas were shared by William Morris. The firm Morris & co produced furniture, tapestry, glass…revitalising decorative arts. The beautiful hand-made products were intended also for the masses, as Morris believed the beautiful objects are an essential part of human well-being.
*App. Chiara: These artist reproduced also figures for the wallpaper of the houses. Wealthy needed art that could be easily in their houses, they needed exclusive wallpapers. Taste for beauty became a moral virtue: everything should be beautiful and also clothes; they had to express the interior beauty.
WHISTELR: he didn’t follow the realistic conventions of the age. His style was initially influenced by P-R and Japanese art, but soon grew close to the French impressionists whose paintings were first exhibited in London in the 1880. he became the leading figure of the so-called “aesthetic movement” which was based on the belief that art is self-sufficient and need serve no moral, political or religious purpose. With Morris he created the art nouveau, a decorative style characterised by the use of sinuous lines based on plant form. The most outstanding representative was Aubrey Beardsley.
ARCHITECTURE: the age was important also for its development. The dominant Victorian style was neo-gothic: architects reacted against the ugliness of the modern world and looked back to the middle ages as a tome of spiritual and artistic harmony. The most influential name is that of that of the architect and designer Alfred pugin, who projected the house of the parliament in London.

APPUNTI CHIARA
VICTORIAN SOCIETY
Victorian age: strong sense of duty.
Society divided in class.
Factory owners built small villages around their factories. The intent was generous, but the situation became impossible. The workers paid the ret to the owner who gave them the salary: it was a vicios circle.
Utopian village: an example was crespi d’adda in Italy. Everything revolved around the factory.
Philanthropy: they had moral duty towards the middle-class. For the middle-class this generosity was only apparent. Though they could give only a temporary help.
The lower classes had to find their own defence from exploitation

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