An analysis of the victorian society in novels by charles dickens

Dickens showed compassion and empathy towards the vulnerable and disadvantaged segments of English society, and contributed to several important social reforms. In his adult life Dickens developed a strong social conscience, an ability to empathise with the victims of social and economic injustices. In a letter to his friend Wilkie Collins dated September 6,Dickens writes of the importance of social commitment:

An analysis of the victorian society in novels by charles dickens

As a period where faith and morality were seen as the way to better society, it became a period where restraint and respectability was the ideal Burgess Instilling these values to the younger generation was seen as saving the society itself, and parents who had the means of doing so focused much on the raising of their children.

However the values they prided lead to unusual practices in child rearing, where children were overly disciplined to be forced into the rigid confines of the society.

Charles Dickens as Social Commentator and Critic

In fact, even though they are novels that constantly challenge the pre-conventions of their time, we can still see in their characters the effect of the Victorian understanding of childhood.

Childcare in the Victorian era involved much discipline, which was achieved in the environment of a strongly patriarchal family. Earnshaw is the head of the family and the household, and any choice he makes is obeyed — When bringing Heathcliff back from London, Mrs.

It is clear to see that the Earnshaw family had the classic family structure of its time, but the family was also typical in the way it treated its children. Until the breaking apart of their family with the untimely deaths of their parents, Hindley and Cathy are quite harshly disciplined by their father.

Joe is praised by Mr. However, this discipline is delivered through an unusual source. As we see through this quotation, it is Mrs.

An analysis of the victorian society in novels by charles dickens

Despite this skewed family structure, where the authority is a woman, the way of raising Pip is typical of his time, involving much physical punishment to make him morally better. Through this strict discipline children were instilled with certain values, which differed according to sex.

Girls were raised differently from boys, given basic education at very best, as their main purpose was to be married off into a successful marriage. If they were above a certain social ranking, women did not even do domestic duties, leaving the duty of caring for the house and children to the many maids and butlers that worked under them.

In Great Expectations, despite Mrs. While Pip is allowed to move outside and become an apprentice and work, Estella simply stays inside with Mrs.

An analysis of the victorian society in novels by charles dickens

Havisham without any purpose other than that associated with men. While Pip is in London in the spheres of trade and pursuing more education, Estella is placed with the widower Mrs.

Brandley conversing with suitors. While this is easy to dismiss this view as an isolated case, a vain girl wanting to be rich, it is clear from the people around her that this is expected and in fact encouraged. Hindley, her new patriarchal figure, rewards her for this choice: Even though both of these characters do not fit the classic female ideal and are unusual in manner, it is clear that their ultimate choice is guided by the values of their upbringing.

Male children, on the other hand, were instilled with very different values. A boy was expected to secure a home and become master of his household. The very idea of his masculinity was tied in these concepts.

This ideal raising of a boy involved getting a good education, which was by private instructors followed by boarding school and college; gaining a way to sustain himself, either by way of a respectable job or by inherited wealth and land; marrying someone of good class and securing his status by having many children.

In Great Expectations, we can see in the character of Compeyson what qualities the Victorian society idealized: These qualities in Compeyson are the things that society rewards him for, by allowing him to get away with more than the average individual.

Charles Dickens as Social Commentator and Critic

It is the awareness that this is what brings reward in society that makes Pip pursue the goal of becoming a gentleman. As a child who is constantly downtrodden, he wishes have respect and power.

In fact, one of the reasons why Pip becomes so obsessed with Estella can perhaps be traced back to this.

We can see this in his speech to Estella when he tries to convince her not to marry: In Wuthering Heights, the character Hindley is also shaped by his childhood to fit into this social construct. After being sent to boarding school, he does as his father before him had done and marries a submissive wife, fathers a child, and after gaining wealth becomes the master of his household.

In fact, even in Heathcliff we can see the effect of Victorian values. At the start, Heathcliff is a sort of anti-thesis to the Victorian ideal — As a foreigner and servant he is drastically low on the social ladder, denied education, rude in manners and ragged in appearance.

Thus Heathcliff shows that he too has been defined by the values he was raised with.

Literary Analysis: Depictions of Victorian Childhood in Literature – Yasemin Celebi

Great Expectations and Wuthering Heights, as both stories focusing on their characters coming-of-age, contain much on the raising of Victorian children. Through their discipline ruled childhoods, their characters are shaped forced to adhere to certain Victorian ideals.The British author Charles Dickens was the most popular Victorian novelist, and to this day he remains a giant in British literature.

He wrote books now considered classics, including David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations. THE SOCIAL CRITICISM OF CHARLES DICKENS: A POINT OF VIEW BY V.

CHRISTINE MCCARTHY The analysis of the four novels revolves around an examination of the characterization, the explicit and Dickens' social attitudes and reappraise his criticism of Victorian society.

I will consider four novels which are mainly concerned. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. In the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the author describes a young poor boy as innocent, fragile, and ignorant. But throughout the novel that little boy, Pip, grows to become knowledgeable, ashamed, and ungrateful.

Charles Dickens, in full Charles John Huffam Dickens, (born February 7, , Portsmouth, Hampshire, England—died June 9, , Gad’s Hill, near Chatham, Kent), English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian era. Britannica Classics: Early Victorian England and Charles DickensClifton Fadiman examining the inspiration Charles Dickens's work took from the milieu of Victorian England, with its startling contrasts of morality and hypocrisy, splendour and squalor, prosperity and poverty.

This video is a Dickens's novels are all distinctly his—he did perfectly fit his nickname, the Inimitable—but they also show the range of genres that were popular in his day.

From the Newgate novel Oliver Twist, to the historical novel A Tale of Two Cities, to the industrial novel Hard Times, to the Bildungsroman David Copperfield —whew.

Charles Dickens as Social Commentator and Critic