IntroductionIn this paper, the star attraction is to focus on how Victorian novels and poetry are influenced by the contradicted ideologies existed in the Victorian society.
As the literature is the imitation of real life 1, all most all of the Victorian novels and poetry can be proved to be fruitless if we keep these conflictual ideologies aloof from consideration. Because of this, the ideological conflicts of Victorian literature are worth thinking, talking and writing about. As a matter of fact, in the 19th-century Victorian period, the rapid growth of industrialization, the theory of evolution and the idea of communism bring a notable change both in livelihood and philosophy of Victorian people and this change is pervasive in Victorian novels and poetry.
In addition, industrialization that causes segregations and instabilities in Victorian society creating a gap between the working class and the owner class, slums, child labor, corruption, and criminality, it makes the Victorian people materialistic. Industrialization, in this way, leaves a negative impact on the thoughts of the Victorian people and of course on the Victorian writers.2 As Charles Dickens in his novel states the problem caused by the rapid growth of industrialization : “……,it was a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage.
It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves forever and ever and never got uncoiled. It had a black canal and a river that ran purple with ill-smelling dye, and vast piles of building full of windows where there was a rattling and a trembling all day long, and where the piston of the steam-engine worked monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness”.3 Likely, in 1859, at the early Victorian time, the theory of evolution coined by Charles Darwin is published in the book titled “On the Origen of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859).This theory questions the religious faith and scientific knowledge of the Victorian people and puts them into the world of confusions and uncertainty. And therefore this Victorian crisis of faith or the ideological conflict of doubt and faith appears clearly in the poetry of Matthew Arnold, Robert Browning and Alfred Tennyson, prominent poets of Victorian-era while Matthew Arnold seems to be pessimistic, Robert Browning to be optimistic and Alfred Tennyson is partly optimistic and partly not in their poetry with regard to the conflict between science and religion. Again the concept of communism and industrial capitalism give birth to many conflictual ideologies in Victorian literature. In a like manner, the conflict in the question of moral values and materialistic views appear to be of paramount importance in Victorian literature because of the loss of religious faith. Victorian people become morally degraded and so most of the themes and the characters of the poetry and novels respectively seem to be materialistic.
Sometimes we find the poets and novelists are confused themselves in their ideologies. For instance, Matthew Arnold in his poetry concerns with the Victorian crisis of faith and morality. This is why he finds the sea waves Melancholic and withdrawing in this poem “Dover beach” but he explicates his opposite contradicted ideas saying that ” …..
it is time to Hellenized and to praise knowing for we have Hebraised too much and have overvalued doing. 4 So it is an acknowledged fact that Matthew Arnold himself is confused with his ideologies. In the same manner, the contradiction between moral values and materialistic approaches of Victorian people may be considered to be the main theme of Victorian novels. Because this ( Victorian age ) was an area that was full of prudery, morality, and sexual repression. 5 This conflict, in fact, is the lifeblood of the Victorian novels. Charles Dickens ” regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era” 6 skillfully shows the conflict between moral values and materialistic attitude. Most of the Victorian characters of Charles Dickens’s novels – Miss Havisham, Estella, Compeyson , Matthew pocket ,Herbert pocket, Cousin Raymond, Georgiana and Pip also in Great Expectations ,Master William Bilfil, Squire Western, Lord Fellamar and Lady Bellastan in Tom Jones, Thomas Gradgrind, Josiah Bounderby and James Harthouse in Hard Times are materialistic in thoughts and actions that bring contradiction with the thoughts of the rest of the characters who have moral values.
Again the characters of Makepeace Thacker’s novels Becky Sharp and Georg Osborne in Vanity fair, Catherine Earnshaw, Hindley Earnshaw, Joseph, Frances Earnshaw, Mrs. Linton and even Heathcliff s are materialistic in thoughts and conducts.The purpose of the paper is also to expose the contradiction between freedom and restriction in the light of sex.
So it can be finally noted that conflictual ideologies prevalent in Victorian novels and poetry are, in fact, worth talking about.