Reflections of Social Revolution: British Literature of the 18th and 19th centuries

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The late 18th and early 19th century was a time of intense turmoil and transition for Great Britain. As the political and economic scenery of Europe changed with the far-reaching effects of the French Revolution and the onset of Industrialization, so did the dynamics of the social order in Great Britain. The French Revolution in particular brought to Great Britain new philosophies concerning equality and liberty of all citizens while the Industrial revolution left many unsure of their place in society with its rapid changes to the workplace. One of the more interesting developments of this time period was the increase in the number and exposure of women writers. Female authors wrote on a variety of subjects, from fiction to political theory, and even commentaries on the role of women in their changing society. This new invitation for women to join the sphere of public political and social debate seems out of place with the view of a women’s proper role as being restricted to the domestic sphere and the workings of her household but allows for a distinct parallel between literary and social developments. Some scholars adopt the view that although women authors experienced new levels of popularity and exposure, this change had no significant effect on gender classifications or the roles of women on the basis that women writers of the time primarily spoke out against any radical social change and supported the maintaining of current social structures. Others disagree with the assertion that women were primarily or exclusively anti-revolutionary conformists but still claim that the literature of the period reflects no significant change in women’s roles. And yet, others still contend that in there was an observable and significant cha...

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