Week 21–Introduction To the Victorian Period


  • Please read the introduction to The Victorian Period, by Donald Gray and John Malcolm Brinnin.
  • Take notes on this information (2-3 pages).
  • Watch the short biography of Charles Dickens below


The Victorian Novel

While in the preceding Romantic period poetry had been the dominant genre, it was the novel that was most important in the Victorian period. Charles Dickens (1812–1870) dominated the first part of Victoria’s reign: his first novel, Pickwick Papers, was published in 1836, and his last Our Mutual Friend between 1864–5. William Thackeray‘s (1811–1863) most famous work Vanity Fair appeared in 1848, and the three Brontë sisters, Charlotte (1816–55), Emily (1818–48) and Anne (1820–49), also published significant works in the 1840s. A major later novel was George Eliot‘s (1819–80) Middlemarch (1872), while the major novelist of the later part of Queen Victoria’s reign was Thomas Hardy (1840–1928), whose first novel, Under the Greenwood Tree, appeared in 1872 and his last, Jude the Obscure, in 1895. (Wikipedia)

The Bronte sisters

Other famous Victorian novelists were women:

  • Anne Bronte wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  • Charlotte Bronte wrote Jane Eyre and popularized the Gothic novel. Jane Eyre is on my top ten list of best books ever written.
  • Emily Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights, also a Gothic novel.
  • Jane Austin is not technically a Victorian writer, since she died before Queen Victoria was born. But her novels were still available and popular during this time period. I also think she paved the way for other female novelists, although one writer in particular thought she needed to separate her work from her female name to be taken seriously.
  • George Eliot was a female writer whose real name was Mary Ann Evans.

George Eliot, was an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She is the author of seven novels, including Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1871–72), and Daniel Deronda (1876), most of them set in provincial England and known for their realism and psychological insight.

She used a male pen name, she said, to ensure her works would be taken seriously. Female authors were published under their own names during Eliot’s life, but she wanted to escape the stereotype of women only writing lighthearted romances. She also wished to have her fiction judged separately from her already extensive and widely known work as an editor and critic. (Wikipedia)

Next year, if you are in my class, we will spend time studying some of these amazing novels. But we need to hurry along . . .

So, for the next few days I am going to have you watch the Masterpiece Classic BBC adaptation of Great Expectations. It is free if you have Amazon Prime. If you don’t have Prime, you can still watch it on Amazon.com. Make sure that you watch the correct version with Douglass Booth and Jillian Anderson.

The full season will cost 4.99 (for all 3 episodes that are 1 hour each). This will be the last movie you will need to purchase this year. Please feel free to get together to watch it, if you want to save money. I also have Amazon Prime, so if you want to I don’t mind setting up a day we can meet this week and we can watch it together for free. Just let me know if anyone is interested.

  • Watch episode 1 today (1 hour)
  • Write a half page summary of what is going on. Who are the main characters and what is the story about?


  • Watch episode 2 today (1 hour)
  • Write a half page summary of what is going on. Who are the main characters and what is the story about?
  • Read the article “The Trouble With Jane Austen
  • Read John Stuart Mill’s “The Subjugation of Women” essay that I handed out on Friday


  • Watch episode 3 today (1 hour)
  • Write a half page summary of what is going on. Who are the main characters and what is the story about?
  • Compare the story of Great Expectations to the poem by John Keats “La Belle Dame Sans Merci.” Why do you think that the strongest power women have during these time periods is in the brutal and violent ripping to shreds the hearts of men? (half page)
  • Read “Deal Breakers: Advice to Unmarried Women (and Daughters)” at the blog Visionary Womanhood. I want to have you all read this article, because it is so important. Jesus said that many people will stand at the gates of heaven and say, “Lord, Lord.” but He will say, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” This means that there are people who look very much like good people on the outside, but they do not really look like Christ. Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. Be wise.

Deal Breakers: How to Avoid Marrying an Abuser

I think Charles Dickens understood the misogyny of the times he lived. He seemed to understand the danger that women faced, and they way they deserve to be treated. Another great novelist of this time period was Thomas Hardy, and in his books Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Far From the Madding Crowd he demonstrates much admiration for women and understanding for the evil abuses they have endured at the hands of abusive men. These writers are so important for exposing evil. The same way Harriet Beecher Stowe exposed the abuses of slavery, these Victorian writers began to expose the abuses of misogyny. I LOVE these men!!!!

Due Friday:

  • The 2-3 page notes on the Victorian Period
  • The 3 half page summaries for each part of the movie
  • The half page comparing Great Expectations to “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” by John Keats.
  • Be prepared to discuss “The Subjugation of Women” and the “Deal Breakers” articles in class tomorrow.



8 thoughts on “Week 21–Introduction To the Victorian Period

    1. Well, I just saw this 😦 so no . . . I am sorry. Unless you have a buddy who can watch it with you tonight? It is actually really good and you can watch it in one sitting. Macey did. I did. My kids have.

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