The frenzied growth and progress of the Victorian Era had worked itself into a ferment at the birth of the Modern Age. Whereas the Victorian authors and poets seemed to attempt to hold onto themes of the Romantics, emulation of the Classical Age and the application of epic format, the Modernists used more conversational language, but similarly to Romantics, turned to introspection as an inspirational source. However, most striking, is the change of mood of the literature from that of optimism and expansion of the 19th century, to that of early 20th century's "pessimism, sadness, and gravity" (Agatucci, 2001). The two works chosen as representatives for contrast in attitude and tone, as well as literary styles reflected by the eras, are Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Aurora Leigh, and Thomas Hardy's Neutral Tones.
E.B. Browning's autobiographical tale is told as an epic poetic drama reminiscent of Milton's Paradise Lost. Her poem utilizes iambic pentameter in blank verse which fashions it into a song-like lyric (Agatucci, 2001). The epic format, in combination with the melodious controlling meter, as well as the constant references to classical and "neo-classical" figures, (such as King Arthur), comes across as sounding very heroic, formal, and a bit "flowery" at times. Yet this style of poetry held relevance in both the way it sounded read aloud, as was custom in Victorian times, as well as the story it told. The effect is nonetheless, beautiful:
"The June was in me, with its multitudes
Of nightingales all singing in the dark,
And rosebuds reddening where the calyx split.
I felt so young, so strong, so sure of God!" (Longman, 2000; p...
... middle of paper ...
... recurrence of the next generation revolutionizing the products of the last. The Modernists cast off Victorian pretense and convention for simplicity, realism, unconventionalism. There also appeared to be a sense of innocence and illusion, as revealed in the child-like voice of the narrator of Aurora Leigh. To the destitute and bitter middle-aged narrator of Neutral Tones; which the title too betrays the indifference felt. Nevertheless, the Modern Era can be considered a product of the previous Victorian Age, and a crescendo of its aspirations materialized; and then to a certain degree, the abandonment of it.
Agatucci, C. (2001). ENG 103, Survey of British Literature. Central Oregon Community College.
Longman, (2000). The Longman Anthology of British Literature, vol. B. Damrosch, D. (ed.). NY, LA: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.
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