Victorian Era

This essay has a total of 1824 words and 8 pages.

Victorian Era



Characteristics During the Victorian Era
When imagining the Victorian Age, royalty, fancy lifestyles, and elaborate living often come to mind. However, during this same era, other lifestyles and conditions of a completely different nature were occurring. Many of the English people lived in poverty. Charles Dickens, one of the great writers of this period, described how it was to live during the Victorian Era. Although England grew from an agricultural to an industrial society, not all citizens benefited from this change. In addition, the undesirable health and medical environment plagued both the wealthy and the poor.
Charles Dickens was a profound British writer who composed novels, short stories, dramatic works, poetry, and essays (“Charles Dickens” 1). He was born on February 7, 1812 in Portsmouth England where he was the second of eight children (Perdue 1). His father John was a minor government official as a clerk in the Navy Pay Office: he was then transferred to Somerset House in London. The family moved to Chatham in the Medway Valley, where Charles experienced the most glorious part of his childhood (Perdue 1). After moving back to London, John Dickens had a tendency to live beyond his needs, spending all the money he earned, and was sent to Marshalsea debtor’s prison in 1824 (“Charles (John Huffam) Dickens” 2). Starting at an early age, Dickens was taught at home by his mother Elizabeth, and later attended a Dame school in Chatham. Even though he had received a decent education, he felt very unsuccessful since his sister Frances was winning awards studying at The Royal Academy of Music, while he was still a mere boy (“Charles (John Huffam) Dickens” 2). According to David Perdue, Charles was removed from school and sent to work at a boot-blacking factory earning six shillings a week to help support the family. Charles considered this the worst time in his life, which would later influence much of his writings. In a fragmentary autobiography Dickens wrote:
“It is wonderful to me how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age….My father and mother were quite satisfied….My whole nature was so penetrated with grief and humiliation of such considerations, that even now, famous and caressed and happy, I often forget in my dreams that I have a dear wife and children; even that I am a man; and wander desolately back to that time of my life. (Perdue 1)
Feeling hurt from his childhood, Charles still remembers how he was treated as a child, tending to forget and neglect the present.
Charles Dickens first love was Maria Beadnell. Their love for each other failed deeply from what he thought was their difference in social classes. This rejection scarred Dickens, causing him to burn his works and anything else that reminded him of Maria. (“Charles Dickens” 1). Dickens creates characters and events that connect people and places from his lifetime into his literary works. For example, he depicts Maria as the cold hearted Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, who burns to death in compensation for her cold heart.
Roughly two years later, he met Catherine Hogarth the daughter of newspaper editor George Hogarth. In 1836 they are married and had ten children; their marriage ended in 1858 (Perdue 1). Within two years, he was involved with Ellen Turnan, an actress he met while interested in theatre. Ellen was 27 years younger then Dickens, which represents the “happy, later life couple” Joe and Biddy, from Great Expectations (“Charles (John Huffam) Dickens” 2). This relationship was kept a secret until Dickens’ daughter revealed it after his death (“Charles Dickens” 2).
Many experiences in an author’s life usually impact upon their style of writing. As a child, Dickens read many 18th century novels and gothic tales, which helped to shape much his own works (“Great Expectations” 1). Furthermore, his writings came in three contained periods. The first of which was his early period, that included the works Sketches, Pickwick and Oliver Twist. Dickens became more and more concerned with greed in what is considered his middle period, with writings such as A Christmas Carol, depicting characters such as Ebenezer Scrooge. His late period started with the powerfully negative Bleak house, which portrayed a society in decay and the lifestyles that revolved around it (“Charles (John Huffam) Dickens” 3). The Mystery of Edwin Drood was the last novel Dickens started to write, left unfinished at his death. He died on June 18, 1870 of a paralytic stroke in Gads Hill, Kent England. The public was greatly saddened by his death and his tombstone read: “He was a sympathizer with the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed, and by his death, one of England’s greatest poets is lost to the world” (Perdue 1).
Struggling to survive during the time period of Dickens’ writing, health and medicine were at the worst in most areas of England, but had the potential for improving. Rural people usually lived longer then city dwellers: the upper classes were healthier and lived longer then the lower working classes. This was due to the different living conditions that each class had faced (Mitchell 83). Since medicine was not available for everyone, numerous diseases spread throughout the crowded towns, infesting and killing many. Most citizens relied on traditional remedies and cures like herbal medicine, homemade prescriptions, and health advice that had been passed through families and elderly women. There were many generalities made as to why certain people would get ill, or how to keep him or herself from getting sick. Some said that members of the

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