The Victorian Era of England which lasted from 1833 to 1901 had many long standing effects on culture today. A reflection of the different struggles can be seen in the literature filling the period. Industrialization was beginning to take shape, leading to the Britain becoming an empire. Many of the effects of the changing customs and technology of this period are seen in the literature read today. Each different type of literature can give insight to a positive or negative effect of the time. Naturalism, Realism, and Romanticism are three common ways to see these effects.
Naturalism uses science in literature and is often gritty in its nature (Kinsella 857). This was a very new approach to literature. Charles Dickens often used this idea of the life and its hardships for his works. In Great Expectations, he uses Pip’s impoverishment to rely the type of poverty present in London during this era. Likewise Rudyard Kipling uses some of his works such as The Widow at Windsor to show how death effects even a queen and the strength she has. Kipling does this not by praising her greatness, but he pities that she must face each day with no support from her late husband (Kinsella 935-936). This naturalist approach to literature respected the struggles the working class went through such as the lack of ability to compete with machines (Nardo 14).
Another look into the Industrial Revolution is through realist literature. Realism looks at ordinary situations from ordinary people’s perspective. This epoch of history is the time of common man. First marked by the revolution of the poor French, the changing atmosphere of the Victorian age is reflective in literature. In Gerald Manley Hopkins’ poem “God’s Grandeur”, the author shows a realistic look at how industrialization is leading to a loss of God in society (Kinsella 981). Another view on the realistic changes in Europe was an essay by Sydney Smith called “Progress in Personal Comfort”. Smith takes a surprising look at the rapid change as something good. He uses a realistic view, but unlike other authors of the time he enjoys and welcomes the new innovations (Kinsella 954-956).