AD's English Literature : The Victorian Age as an Age of Doubt and Conflict

The Victorian Age as an Age of Doubt and Conflict


                                    
Hugh walker commended the Victorian age as ‘the age of property, balance and order’ in The Literature of the Victorian Era, and few would question the validity of this statement. The Victorian reign had given England political peace and this was conducive to social progress. After a penetrating study of the state of men’s mind would reveal the painful feeling of doubt, conflict and dissatisfaction that seethed beneath the veneer of ‘democracy’ and ‘prosperity’. Indeed the spate of social reform may have been only a consequence of such dissatisfaction. Today Toynbee’s phrase for the Victorian Age an age of conflict and doubt’---------- has attained the status of a final statement.
The Victorian concept of happiness, at least in the initial stapes, hinged upon material prosperity. Even since Adam smith had landed such materialism in his Wealth of Nations, and men like Mill and spinach Bentham had rounded its rough edges by their concepts of’ utilitarianism’, this capitalist nation had gained currency. Capitalism was the driving force so long as it catered to ‘the greatest good of the greatest number’, But this complete was not fond totally acceptable to most, and three eminent personalities in particular ----- Carlyle, Ruskin and Arnold ------ raised their representative voice of protest against such crass materialism.
Carlyle launched the assault against such commercial goals as the sole and of life. So disgusted was he with the present that’s in has On Heroesand Hero – Worship and past and present  he would hark back to the heroic past rather than remain the timidly mercantile present. Even the ‘Dark of the Medieval times was better than such scientific and commercial enlightenment. John Ruskin, famous art critic and social thinker criticized the of Mammon, not only because he felt like Carlyle that ‘cash – nexus’ was harming the spiritual nation between men, but also because he realized deadening effect on art. Co – operation and at completion was his watchword. Basically a socialist not only Escape rejected the accepted theism of day but in unto thus last also pointed out that ‘wealth is not life’.  This was a direct refutation of Adam Smith. The third of the triumvirate was the poet and reformer Mathew Arnold- How he lay emphasis on’ culture’ as ‘sweetness and light’! He felt that material progress and prosperity was inimical to such ‘sweetness’ for materialism made man vulgar, selfish and unimaginative, in Culture and Anarchy he criticized the lowest classes as the ‘populace’, the middle classes as the ‘Philistines’ and the upper classes as ‘Barbarians’. He felt that the unnatural desire for money was the only evil. 
Although the Victorian Age may appear to have been assured of religions steadfastness, there were a considerable number of replies. Evangelism came to the forefront with the rise of the middle classes. These Evangelists regarded self – seeking and money – making as against the spirit of Christianity. It later led to the great oxford also against were Evangelism, although less concerned with social questions, Cardinal Newman, one of the of the oxford Movement, condemned the uncouples of the existing liberal political economy as ‘a categorical contradiction of our Lord’ This   moment, too, created, deep influences in Victorian society. For the first time, also, Christianity took on a socialistic hue.
The doubt lingering in the Victorian mind was further aggravated by Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species(1859). Darwin propounded that man was created not by a miraculous act of God as depicted in the Biblical Genesis but by a process of gradual evolution. This biological theory thoroughly subverted the tenets of Christianity and engineered those Christians who did not attended logic. The evidence of provided by Darwin woeful and the sense of religious faith was gravely shame .The theory that Christ was born to redeem man’s Fall was patently false since according to this theory there could have been no Fall.
Finally came mark that put paid to the last bastion of the capitalists. His Communist Manifesto (1848) asked all workless to unite against their masters since. They were mere exploiters. The capitalists, through their control of men, money and management reaped profits which properly belonged to the works. The workless were next only at a substance level to increase the profits and also to keep the worked perpetually dependent upon their masters. The theory was very logically given in his Das Capital (1568). Further, Marx preached not a gradual change but revolution armed violence was the only means of ridding socially of a monstrous capitalism. It spots the capitalists out of all complacent.
Thus, the material property and democratic reforms only enhanced the statesmen lingering in the Victorian mind. Democracy never reached the necessary level of adult franchise for all, and the Victorian materialism was proved to take ‘not enough’ with religion, politics, and economy in question, the Victorian had nothing to hold on to it.
Ref:1. History of English Literature- Albert,      
        2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature
        3. Microsoft Students’ Encarta
     4. Arnold, Matthew. The Complete Poems. ed. Kenneth and Miriam Allott. London: Longmans, 1987.
        5. Eliot, T. S. Selected Essays. London: Faber and Faber, 1980.

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