the Victorian Period – la storia del primo periodo vittoriano

The Historical Background
Queen Victoria, daughter of the Duke of Kent (1767-1820) came to the throne of England at the age of eighteen (1837) and succeeded in restoring (= ristabilire) the image of the monarchy with her wisdom, gaining the respect of her subjects with her private life: an adored husband, Prince Albert, and nine children.

Her pattern (= modello) of life was ruled (= governato) by sobriety and hard work, in a word, by ” respectability”. As a consequence the Victorian Period was based more on exteriority than on spiritual values, on conformism and, often, on hypocrisy.

As to political and social life, England lived a period full of changes and extensions in every field.

Queen Victoria died in 1902. Her son Edward came to the English throne trying to follow his mother’s steps.
Social Achievements (= realizzazioni in campo sociale)

The Parliament had to face (= dovette affrontare) the problems of the workers with a series of Acts (The Factory Act, The Ten Hours’ Act; The Mines Act; The Public Health Act) to improve (= migliorare) the working conditions, limit the hours of work and the exploitation (= sfruttamento) of the children and women.

In 1884 the Third Reform Bill enlarged the suffrage (= voto) to all male workers. 
Foreign Policy (= politica estera)

Ireland found his leader In C. Parnell that demanded the Home Rule in 1880, but it was not approved till after the First World War

– In 1887 Queen Victoria became Empress of India and the Empire enlarged (= allargò) its dominions to Australia, New Zealand, Ceylon, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus and parts of Africa.

– In 1899-1902 the Boer War burst out (= scoppiò) in Orange and Transval

– In 1854-56 the dispute on the borders (= confini) between Russia and Turkey originated the Crimean War, during which Florence Nightingale founded the Red Cross.

Literary Background

Under the reign of Queen Victoria, literature developed thanks to the improved ways of  communication and a new printing system; it became a means to confute ideas and reveal thoughts.

This period can be divided into three stages:


Early Victorians

– Fiction: the writers identified themselves with their own age; they wrote long books published in serial instalments (= a puntate)  and structured every episode as a plot. They tried to attract the masses with suspense and the appeal to the sensational. Their motto was to make them (the readers) wait, cry and laugh.

Main authors: C. Dickens ; W. Thackerey; The Brönte Sisters.

– Poetry: The poets at first followed the Romantic way of writing, but soon they reflected a sense of uneasiness (= disagio). They developed (= svilupparono) the Dramatic Monologue in which a persona reveals his thoughts and feeling unconsciously to a silent listener.

Main authors: Lord A. Tennyson and R. Browning.