The literature of the Victorian age entered in a new period after the romantic revival. The literature of this era expressed the fusion of pure romance to gross realism. Though, the Victorian Age produced two great poets Tennyson and Browning, the age is also remarkable for the excellence of its prose.
The discoveries of science have particular effects upon the literature of the age. If you study all the great writers of this period, you will mark four general characteristics:
1. Literature of this age tends to come closer to daily life which reflects its practical problems and interests. It becomes a powerful instrument for human progress.
2. Moral Purpose: The Victorian literature seems to deviate from “art for art’s sake” and asserts its moral purpose. Tennyson, Browning, Carlyle, Ruskin – all were the teachers of England with the faith in their moral message to instruct the world.
3. Idealism: It is often considered as an age of doubt and pessimism. The influence of science is felt here. The whole age seems to be caught in the conception of man in relation to the universe with the idea of evolution. Tennyson’s some immature works seem holding doubtful and despairing stains but his In Memoriam comes out as a hope after despair.
4. Though, the age is characterized as practical and materialistic, most of the writers exalt a purely ideal life. It is an idealistic age where the great ideals like truth, justice, love, brotherhood are emphasized by poets, essayists and novelists of the age.
If you wish to read the literature of the Victorian age, the names of Tennyson, Browning, Dickens, Thackeray, Macaulay, Arnold, Carlyle and Ruskin will come before your mind’s eye. Tennyson, like Chaucer, was a national poet whose reading will please you by his employment of melody in expression.