The literature of the Victorian Age is remarkable for the variety of prose; it produced two great poets, Tennyson and Browning. The literature of this age reflected its interests and problems and therefore, it came very close to the daily life.
The literary tendency of this age is quite ethical in spirit. And therefore all the writers, poets, essayists, and novelists of this age seemed to be moral teachers at heart. Science and discovery also influenced the age which presented truth as the sole object of human endeavor. The age is often considered as materialistic, but the literature is an attack on materialism.
What To Read?
Tennyson, like Chaucer, he was a national poet. Everyone would enjoy reading Tennyson because of his thought and his melody of expression, as it happens in The Lotus Eaters
Music that gentlier on the spirit lies
Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes.
Tennyson’s concept of faith and immortality is well expressed in In Memoriam
Browning, the optimism of his poetry, his creed as it expressed in Rabbi Ben Ezra is worth reading. If you read Fra Lippo Lippi or Andrea del Sarto, you will know what dramatic monologues are:
Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?
Dickens’s experiences in life are reflected in his novels. David Copperfield is in this respect shares some autobiographical elements. You can read and make brief analysis of Tale of Two Cities with its plot, characters, and style.
You can read “Henry Esmond” to know Thackeray’s realism. You can also compare it with Ivanhoe as a historical novel. He deals with satire in his writing and has got great skills of critical writer.
If you read Silas Marner, you will learn that George Eliot’s ethical teaching is at the centre in this novel. Her moral teaching is always convincing.
Carlyle is often called prophet and censor. You can read his Essay on Burns, about the Scotch poet, and you will learn his idea of criticism. He is interested in Burns and for his power of lyrical expressions. Also read “Heroes and Hero Worship” to know his idea of history. Sartor Resartus reflects his some of experiences of his own life.
Macaulay’s historical knowledge serves in writing his literary essays. You can read History of England. Also read his essays on Milton and Addison.
The elements of Victorian life are reflected in Arnold’s poetry. There is coldness and sadness in his verses. In Sohrab and Rustum, he makes use of classical elements. His poetry and prose both are remarkable.
Ruskin is often considered as “the prophet of modern society”. His first two lectures in Sesame and Lilies give his views on wealth, books, education, labor, woman’s sphere, and human society.