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The Victorian era is essentially the age of the novel or fiction. During this period, the novel made expeditious progress. Realistic Fiction/ Novel is a category of novels that we can relate to real life characters. It is a piece of work that, while concocted by its author, is embedded in characters and events that can literally happen in real life. It consists of stories that could have actually occurred to people or animals in a convincing manner. Stories that are classified as realistic fiction have storyline that bring out social or personal events or issues that reflect and portray ultramodern life, such as falling in love, marriage, finding a job, divorce, alcoholism, etc. These types of fictions portray the modern world and the society. Victorian era is an an idealistic age where the great ideals like truth, justice, love, brotherhood are foregrounded by poets, essayists and novelists of the age. It focuses on themes of growing up and challenging personal and social problems. This category portrays characters coming to understand themselves and others.
History of Realistic Victorian Novels
The Realistic Novel and its Formation
The realistic novel was quite different from the earlier literature. The most popular form of literature had always been poetry. The realistic novel changed that. This nature of literature used journalistic techniques in order to make the literature something closer to real life with facts and general stereotypes of human nature. The attention to detail was made to just report the facts, not commenting or judging on the scene or character.
The novels were about the common man, which also happened to be the struggles of the lower class. These struggles usually included a lower class citizen trying to gain upward mobility. Thus, a subgenre called Social Realism was born. One of the most popular novels of this time is in the Social Realism genre. In Charles Dickens Great Expectations, the novel goes through a boy named Pip’s life, as he unexpectedly comes into money and is asked to become a gentleman. The novel follows Pip’s struggles, and focuses on telling the whole truth about the character, both his good and bad actions and the reasons behind them. He was meant to be a very tangible person, one that the average person of this time could relate to. Pip was written to be very “real”, with all his flaws and positive attributes.
Evolution of the Realistic Victorian Novel
Realism is a literary movement that started in France in the 1850s as a reaction against Romanticism and which tried to show “life as it was” in literature all over Europe. Although the concept is also questioned by some critics, it is a useful term to understand the general spirit of the second half of the 19th century: a reaction to Romanticism, a stress on reason and positivism, and a faith in the power of the artist to show reality.
“Victorian era“, a period ruled by Queen Victoria (1837-1901) which meant the height of the British Empire and the Industrial Revolution. Novels are certainly the most important literary form of the period, excellent novels read by an expanding educated middle class that had developed with economic welfare. Novels are certainly the most important literary form of the period, excellent novels read by an broadening educated middle class that had developed with economic prosperity.
CHARLES DICKENS (1812-1870) was possibly the most popular novelist of the Victorian era. He graded most of his novels, which may explain some of his weak plots. Dickens wrote strikingly about London life and the struggles of the poor, but in a good- humoured manner which was acceptable to all classes of audience. The expansion of the reading middle classes allowed for the development of popular literature like the Detective Stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). There was also a separate category for children literature in Victorian era.
The novelists at the turn of the century continued to explore the problems in English social life, but explored other key concept as well. The greatest departure from the early Victorian era came from these authors exploration of subjects such as sexuality and a focus on the ways in which science and technology would reorganize the world in the upcoming century. The realistic Victorian novel focused on characters and subjects such as the extremity of the poor and social potency that was being afforded to a new middle class and the rising middle class were eager to swallow these novels.
Influence of Realistic Novels in Victorian Era
The influence is at least two pleats. The first fold is through the lived experiences and backgrounds of the authors, and secondly through the characters and mores of the period that they portray. It effected escapist groups like imaginary characters as an escape from the problems industry brings (pollution, child labor, company towns, etc.) as well as science fiction as a way to visualize what else might be possible. In fact there’s a case to be made that every aspect of fandoms as we know them today came from Victorian times with the proliferation of mass produced books and magazines.
Characteristics of Realistic Fiction
Realistic Fiction have the following characteristics :
- Realistic fiction stories tend to take place in the present or recent past.
- Characters are involved in events that could happen.
- Characters live in places that could be or are real.
- The characters seem like real people with real issues solved in a realistic way.
- The events depicts in realistic fiction make you think that a reader could face in everyday life.
- Shift From Industrialism & Utilitarianism.
- Shift towards Intellectualism.
Famous Novelists In Victorian Era
- Charles Dickens
- Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte
- George Eliot
- Wilke Collins
- Thomas Hardy
- George Gissing
- George Meredith
- Anthony Trollope
- William Makepeace Thackeray
- Charlotte Yonge
Popularity of the Realistic Victorian Novel
The popularity of the realistic Victorian Novel would be entirely dependent on the people who read them. The most popular novels of the Victorian age were realistic ,more interesting and crowded with characters. It describes the ultramodern life and entertainment for the middle class. So these kind of novels were being liked, enjoyed and accepted by a large number of audience. So the popularity of the realistic Victorian Novel would be entirely dependent on the people who read them. For example, Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations was originally released weekly in newspaper publications and people enjoyed it so much that it became in high demand quickly, and eventually it was turned into a one novel. The realistic Victorian novels became popular because it was the first time characters in a novel were similar and connected to the people.
In the later Victorian era the novelists were not that much entertainers and reformers like the former novelists. Instead, they were more serious composers with greater involvement in the deeper passions of love life. Moreover, their main concern was with the rural England, which was being destroyed by industry and commerce rather than the city working class and its masters, the mill-owners etc. They portray the tragedy of transition from the agrarian way of life to the industrial order.
The Victorian period was considered to be the golden age of the novel and most capable of contemplates the increasing entanglement of the modern world and, was also the main source of entertainment for the educated middle-classes.
Realism had turned to Naturalism towards the end of the nineteenth century. With Naturalism, writers defined their character using their heredity and history. Qualities that people found incomparable to Realism, which was the addiction with character and the thoroughly boring storyline, was sharpened by Naturalism. The impact was uniquely because of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution that inspired other writers to branch out into something that differs from Realism. Whereas Realism looks for only to describe subjects as they really are, naturalism also endeavors to govern “scientifically” the underlying forces, like the heredity and history, manipulating all of the actions of the subjects.