Many novels written during the Victorian Era in England are among some of the greatest works ever published and they are still being studied in schools today. These novels are from the time of Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 to 1901, hence the name Victorian. During this time the Industrial Revolution was quickly changing England, which is evident in the novels of the time. Some may ask how specifically and significantly did these changes affect the literature written during this period. The mix between romantic and realistic beliefs, the social class system, and the Industrialization of England highly influenced the themes of the major novels published during the era. The blend between the previously romantic and the current views of life were reflected in many novels of the Victorian Era. Romanticism consisted of personal inspiration or feeling while realism was all about being very realistic or true to life. This mix was especially evident in novels that centred around the theme of love. During the Victorian Era, many people still believed in the romanticism from the previous era but they had a more realistic take on it. The theme of love was common and the authors during the time wanted to portray it as realistically as possible. This is especially evident in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In the beginning of the novel, Mrs. Bennet expresses her dyre need to get all of her daughters married. Similarly, in the Victorian Era the woman’s main focus was to find a husband and start a family, this pressure was put especially on women who came from wealthy families. Austen was able to emphasize how important marriage was, not only to the woman getting married, but also to the family and she did it through the character Mrs. Bennet. Mrs. Bennet wanted to ensure that all her daughters found husbands to take of them like how in Victorian England it was important for a woman to find a man. Later on in the novel, the characters Jane and Mr. Bingley are able to become acquainted with each other at a ball. During the Victorian Era, women who came from wealthy families would have a ball to show that they are ready to find a potential husband. Austen was able to keep a major aspect of the tradition while including her own take on it. She showed that in the Victorian Era, there was a specific way the wealthy would meet the person they would marry. In the novel, the rich Mr. Darcy, one of the main characters, himself was an accurate representation of the partly romantic side of those times. At first he completely rejects Elizabeth, the protagonist, but eventually he ends up falling in love with her and he proposes to her. His love for Elizabeth and the formal proposal was a mirror of how formal love and marriage actually was in the Victorian Era and how love in these novels were a reflection of romanticism, since romanticism partly dealt with intense emotion. Given these points, it is clear to see that when portraying love or any other strong emotion, authors made it realistic by including traditions or other aspects of reality and they added romanticism by showing the character’s deep emotions for one another. The social class system in Victorian England was much different than it was before. The three estates were not as significant as it used to be, mainly because of the decline of power the monarch. The country was governed by a constitutional monarchy so the monarch, Queen Victoria, simply had to give advice to the parliament and the Prime Minister. The three estates was transformed into the tripartite social hierarchy system consisting of the upper class, middle class, and the working class. The upper class included aristocrats, nobles, dukes, and wealthy families who gained their money through the family or through owning large industries such as mining or shipping. Many novelists liked to portray the upper class and their luxurious lifestyles through the characters in their books. One example would be Jane Austen’s character Mr. Bingley from Pride and Prejudice, who in the novel was wealthy enough to have an estate and throw his own formal events. Upper class people from the Victorian Era were also wealthy enough to own land and have extravagant parties. Mr. Bingley is a prime example of the upper class because of how he is able to own or rent an entire estate and throw a party without money being an obstacle. Another example of the upper class would be the character Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, who became wealthy after inheriting money from her father. Most upper class people inherited their wealth from family and would use this wealth to buy their property, just like Miss Havisham did. This character shows how the upper class people in the Victorian Era were able to gain a surplus amount money just by being born into the family. A third example of the wealthy class portrayed in literature is the character Dorian Gray from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian Gray is wealthy enough to afford to hire someone to paint his picture. In the Victorian Era, the wealthy were able to afford the finest goods and services, and many of them were able to get their portraits painted professionally. By being wealthy enough to afford getting his picture painted, Dorian gray is an accurate representation of wealthy liked to spend their money on whatever they liked without caring too much about if they actually need it. During the Victorian Era it was common for authors to write about the lives of the wealthy upper class because they were the ones who had the most fascinating lives. The middle class were those who owned their own private businesses and they were a thriving class during the Victorian Era. The Industrial Revolution helped make their living conditions better, while the Reform Bill of 1832 gave them more rights. The character Uncle Pumblechook from Great Expectations is a well known middle class citizen in the novel. Dickens paints the picture of a greedy and arrogant seedsman who is focused on making himself look better. Although not all of the middle class people were greedy or arrogant, Dickens was still able to portray the comfortable lifestyle of a middle class merchant. With the rise of middle class writers, realism in novels became prevalent. For example, instead of the poor being portrayed as disgusting or unhuman, they were now seen as real people who deserved respect. The middle class writers were able to change the readers view of the lower class to be more accurate of the real lives of these people through the realistic portrayals in their novels. Since the middle class were not quite rich or not quite poor, they were able to see the perspectives of all people because they were a blend of both classes which made more realistic interpretations in novels. The middle class were a class that became more popular after industrialization and were able to have more representation in novels because of the increase of middle class writers. The lowest social class was the working class, who were skilled or unskilled workers that found jobs because of the the Industrial Revolution. Authors of the Victorian Era often wrote about the hardships these people had to face, especially when it came to children. In Dickens’ Great Expectations he uses the character Pip as an example of the lower class struggle. Pip was a very kind hearted character who had a good conscience. He falls in love with Estella, a girl who comes from a wealthy family, but gets rejected because he is much less wealthier than she is. Through Pip’s journey, Dickens was able to prove to his readers that it is wrong and unrealistic to assume that the lower class is not deserving of love or respect just because they are not wealthy. Although Pip was not as wealthy as Estella does not mean that he should not marry her. In his novel David Copperfield Dickens’ was able to clearly describe the setting of a warehouse in London, …abutting on the water when the tide was in, and on the mud when the tide was out, and literally overrun with rats. Its panelled rooms, discoloured with the dirt and smoke of a hundred years, I dare say; the squeaking and scuffling of the old grey rats down in the cellars; and the dirt and rottenness of the place; are things, not of many years ago, in my mind, but of the present instant The working class would often have to work in such awful conditions during the Victorian Era. This quote is from a fictional story yet it was able to emphasize the problems that these workers had to face. Elizabeth Gaskell was another author who wrote about the difficult lives of the working class. In her novel Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life she describes the working conditions of a mill worker, It was very dark inside. The window-panes, many of them, were broken and stuffed with rags, which was reason enough for the dusky light that pervaded the place even at midday… the smell was so foetid as almost to knock the two men down. Quickly recovering themselves, as those inured to such things do, they began to penetrate the thick darkness of the place, and to see three or four little children rolling on the damp, nay wet brick floor, through which the stagnant, filthy moisture of the street oozed up…The worker class during the Victorian Era suffered a lot in the factories they worked at because of the poor conditions. Workplaces were airless and were breeding grounds for many kinds of diseases and no safety guards meant many injuries were caused by hair or limbs getting trapped. Although this quote was from her story, Gaskell was able to vividly and realistically describe the lives of the worker class in her society at the time. During the Victorian Era, the class level that suffered the most was the working class. Despite the fact that they were able to find work in industrial companies, the working conditions were inhumane and they suffered greatly because of this. After witnessing these hardships, authors used the setting to add realism and emotion to their books. The Industrial Revolution caused many people to leave rural areas in order to find better job opportunities and to have a better lifestyle. The populations in rural areas shrank significantly, from 25% in 1831 to 9% in 1901. City life was completely different than what life was like in the rural areas. These changes were also evident in Victorian Era literature. Many people moved from the country to the city because of the Industrial Revolution and the change of setting was completely different to them. The work was very new to them and was difficult yet they continued to live in these cities. Charles Dickens, in his novel Hard Times, describes working at a mill as, “So many hundred Hands in this Mill; so many hundred horse Steam Power. It is known, to the force of a single pound weight, what the engine will do…” In the rural areas, the farming jobs needed a lot of manual labour and help from the entire family. Majority of people who lived in the city was working in trade, manufacturing, mining, etc. and similar to farm work these jobs required a lot of strength to be able to work there. The mill conditions were much worse, employees would often struggle and get punished if they do something wrong, like getting less pay than the others. In the quote from his novel, Dickens is trying to say that factory workers were treated like the machines in these mills. They did not get any respect and it can be inferred that the rural life would have treated them better. Dickens continues in Hard Times to talk about what the city itself looked like. lt was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it… It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed… It had a black canal in it, and a river that ran purple with ill-smelling dye, and vast piles of building full of windows where there was a rattling and a trembling all day long…,Dickens states. The cities in the Victorian Era were often so overpopulated that sewage could not drain properly, waste was contaminated, and large families had to live together in tiny homes. Through his novel, Dickens was able to perfectly describe the horrendous state of the cities in England and the errors made by the society that led to this ruin. Another important aspect of rural to city life involved the railways. Alfred Tennyson, who was a poet with many published works during the Victorian Era, wrote this poem, “Not in vain the distance beacons. Forward, forward let us range, Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change.” The railways that were built in England provided jobs and helped with bringing people from the rural areas to the cities. Tennyson was one of the first people that traveled on the first passenger train from Liverpool to Manchester and decided to write about his experience. Tennyson was changed by his journey and emphasizes in his poem that the trains were a symbol of progress in society and that it should be appreciated rather than being ignored. The change from the rural life to the city life and how people made that change inspired novelists, especially Dickens, and poets to write this huge shift or change in society. With the overpopulated cities came also the rise of criminal behaviour, but the newer justice system was not always fair when it came to convicting the guilty. The character Magwitch from Dickens’ Great Expectations is a prime example of how the justice system in England could be unfair during the Victorian Era. In the novel, when Magwitch and another man named Compeyson, are accused of a major crime, Magwitch sells his clothes to hire a lawyer and ends up getting a much longer sentence than Compeyson, who was easily able to hire his own lawyer. Dickens uses his character to show that the new criminal system was not always just when it came to convicting those of lower status. Since Magwitch did not look as formal as Compeyson, he was automatically assumed to be more of a criminal than Compeyson. Through the character Magwitch, Dickens was able to show that the criminal system and practically the society of England is wrong when they assume that those with a lower status are more guilty than those that are wealthier. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was another author famous for writing about the fictional crimes that take place in London England. He published the many Sherlock Holmes books, which were about a detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his partner Watson solving crimes involving murder in the city of London. These novels and short stories were very popular among all classes, mainly because of the intriguing mystery element. The crimes of the era influenced Doyle to write astonishing works of fiction that sparked the interest of all people, regardless of class. Although they are not real crimes, it is evident that the setting of London and the rise of actual crime were the reason for Doyle to write about such a topic. Whether it was to make a point about society or to simply entertain people with the mysterious plot, the rise of crime in the cities were reflected in some of the major novels of the Victorian Era. The Victorian Era was a time of great change and new perspectives, which highly influenced the literature of this era. The central plots and ideas of the major published works during this era expressed the society of Victorian England. The main concepts being the blend of romanticism and realism, the social hierarchy, and the Industrial Revolution. Victorian Era literature mainly reflected the society and setting of the time it was written, which is why many of the novels are still studies in schools. In conclusion, literature in general will always reflect some aspects of the society of the time period it was written in, no matter what the story is about.