English Essay

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Literature and Culture. Second Semester. Lecture 1. The Victorian Age. Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901. . A post-industrial age in the first urbanised country of Europe, the first in world trade and on the way to becoming the greatest empire the world had known. The Industrial Revolution had created great accumulation of wealth on the one hand and the pauperisation of the dispossessed rural people who had moved into towns with nothing to sell except their labour. A period of great social unrest (the Chartist Movement), of social division to the extent that Benjamin Disraeli, who was one of England's Prime Ministers over the period spoke of the "two nations". . A postmetaphysical age. Geological theories of catastrophism (according to which the earth had been created and destroyed several times, as it could be deduced from the unrelated layers of fossils), the Bridgewater Treatises On Astronomy and General Physics (theorising astronomy in terms of flux, emphasising the instability of the universe), evolutionary theories had created a metaphysical crisis, the decay of faith, universal doubt and scepticism. 1832. Young MP, Thomas Babington Macaulay, argues in favour of political reform: People crushed by the law have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to laws ..." Let the law incorporate new groups, and they will defer to the state system. The reform of the legislation extended progressively the right to vote, incorporating, first, the middle class, and afterwards the entire male population in the political system. The political map changed in favour of the middle class. Religious movements. . Unitarianism (Joseph Priestley, James Martineau, W.J. Fox) had derived from Locke and Newton a doctrine of determinism and necessarianism. Adverse to

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