Victorian Era Literature

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One of the most interesting aspects of Victorian era literature reflects the conflict between religion and the fast gathering movement aptly dubbed the enlightenment. Primarily known for its prude, repressed, social and family structure beneath the surface of the Victorian illusion many conflicting, perhaps even radical, ideas were simmering and fast reaching a boiling point within in the public circle. In fact writers such as Thomas Hardy and Gerald Manly Hopkins reflect this very struggle between the cold front of former human understanding and the rising warm front know only as the enlightenment. As a result we as readers are treated to a spectacular display of fireworks within both authors poetry as the two ideas: poetics of soul and savior, and the poetics of naturalism struggle and brutality, meet and mix in the authors minds creating a lightning storm for us to enjoy.

Lets begin by outlining the lives of both men. Bourn a mere four years apart, Hardy in 1840 and Hopkins in 1844 both men bloomed during the peak of Victorian culture in England. Not only were both men bourn within the same decade, but both men also had similar backgrounds in regards to literature. Hopkins studied the classics at Oxford, and Hardy through strictly regimented self study became intimately acquainted with similar classics such as the Odyssey. Hopkins converted to Catholicism in 1866 with the scorn of his parents in tow. For Hopkins religion would remain a point of contention for the rest of his life, causing him to burn much of his poetry with the idea that the sermon was the only worthy for literary discourse. Despite Hopkins early admonition of writing he would continue to do so, often as an outlet for his religious and personal strugg...

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...the ideas of pilgrimage, and bliss two words with obvious religious undertones. Unlike Hardwig, Hardy embodies the poetics of the enlightenment, that is the poetics of naturalism, struggle and brutality, and as a result we see reflected in his poems a laughing irony at the ideas of fate and destiny thus embodying the growing pressures of enlightenment thought.

Unlike Hardwig’s poem Hardyd’s lacks any type of reverence or fear of the suffering he undergoes. In fact he mocks both the idea that suffering is something meted out by God and the idea that a man can do anything to effect the amount of suffering he experiences through out his life. In a sense the two author’s while expressing similar ideas, the idea of personal struggle and suffering, are in contention in a very similar way that religion and enlightenment ideas were during the Victorian period.

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