The span of time from the Victorian age of Literature to the Modernism of the 20th century wrought many changes in poetry style and literary thinking. While both eras contained elements of self-scrutiny, the various forms and reasoning behind such thinking were vastly different. The Victorian age, with it's new industrialization of society, brought to poetry and literature the fictional character, seeing the world from another's eyes. It was also a time in which "Victorian authors and intellectuals found a way to reassert religious ideas" (Longman, p. 1790). Society was questioning the ideals of religion, yet people wanted to believe.
In contrast, the 20th century found no such religious fervor in its literature. "They [writers] saw their times as marked by accelerating social and technological change" (Longman, p. 2165). Modern writers were skeptics, questioning every aspect of social unity, politics, and religion. "In the modern period the quest for certainty associated with the Victorian exploration of values has vanished" (Longman, p. 2167).
Yet many elements of literature remained throughout the changes in historical literature. Dramatic monologue were still used, as evidenced in Browning's "The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church" and Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock". Both contained this style of dramatic monologue, seeing a worldview through the eyes of a fictitious character. Browning's poem lies in the voice of a Bishop, giving instructions for the burial and tomb construction as he lays dieing. Eliot's poem, sees the world through Alfred J. Pr...
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...yric in expression" (Longman, p. 1958) while Eliot's poem is "chaotic, irregular and fragmentary" (Longman. p. 2416). Both poems deal with loneliness, isolation and internal alienation, yet Browning's Bishop seems to be isolated from without, from the world, and Eliot's Prufrock is isolated from within, creating his own alienation from the world. These concepts, while not new, were carried over time, expressed in both the Victorian era and in the new Modernism, yet this theme, from these two poems, takes on a completely different viewpoint relative to the differing ideologies of the era's in which they represent.
Longman citations refer to page numbers of Eng 103 course text, Spring 2001:
Damrosch, David, et al., ed. The Longman Anthology of British Literature:
Vol. B. Compact ed. New York: Longman - Addison Wesley Longman, 2000.
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