Victorian Age English Literature: Jane Eyre And David Copperfield

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In this essay as you can see, I will mention the Bildungsroman which are samples of Victorian age English literature. As a result of research, you can find answers to questions such as: How was the Victorian age? How affected in literature? What is Bildungsroman? What are the features of Bildungsroman? How did it come about? How were the characters in the novels?

Victorian age that marked the 19th century, various scientific, technological and medical occurred. There was also a population increase due to these developments. Changing affected the country deeply. The public encouraged hard work and respect. Political movements and especially women phenomenon emerged. People were in wealth. Britain was in abundance in the 19th century. There was development with the industrial revolution. However, many negative changes occurred in society. The bans announced during this period were quite unusual. Society had a patriarchal structure. Individuals had responsibilities towards the family and discipline was dominant at home. Suppressing all kinds of sexual emotions and activities was quite common. For this reason, the sexual parts in the Bible were deleted and a new Bible was printed. With this social structure and moral perception, some movements arose and literature influenced by these movements. These movements were determinism, historicism, sentimentalism, idealism, etc. The features of the period were the subject of English literature. Of course, some criticized this period. Novels gained importance as the popularity of literature increased.

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So, what is the Bildungsroman in this age? As the word Bildung means developing thing. A process of formation is highlighted here. It is a literary genre that focusing on the progression of the hero and explaining his current situation. From this point of view, we can say that Bildungsroman is realistic. This novel has a young character and is expected to reach maturity over time. The novel begins with explaining what the character has experienced since childhood and ends when he is an adult individual. Also, we see the effects of movements in such novels. This term was first introduced by Karl Morgenstern in 1819, however, it was popularized by Wilthem Dilthey in 1905. This term called coming-of-age novel. The name is used less. In general, if we look at the features of the Bildungsroman, it has three features. Firstly, a Bildungsroman relates to growing up a person who tries to adapt to life conditions and gets experiences. Secondly, the character suffers a loss before embarking on a journey. The purpose of a Bildungsroman is maturity and character begins to struggle with ever-increasing hardships. Finally, the genre has a conflict between the main character and society. The character accepts society’s perceptions of value, gives up mistakes, and helps others when the character is mature. All of the Bildungsromans contain a thematic pattern and elements. We can analyze step by step. It comprises a child without mother or father (probably stepfather), a conflict with one of the family members (especially father), conflict of generations, the child leaves home and enters a larger society to have interaction with other people, the child receives either institutional education or self-education, life experiences and seeks for professional and social achievement, professional and society requirements, the character remembers his/her painful days and suffers, after physical alteration, alters morally and psychologically. Thus, formation completes. These stages reveal the system of bildungsroman. In this way, it makes it easy for the reader to identify the Bildungsroman. There are also narrative strategies. These are autodiegetic narration ( first person singular), representing chronotope (First is formation time, secodly is time of telling.), directly narration, ironic tone and social experiences. The events are transferred in a classical way, directly to the reader in chronological order. So far, I talked about what a Bildungsroman should have and how it should be. If we come to the period writers, these are a few authors. It is Charles Dickens who marked the Victorian Age and reflected the injustices of the period. Dickens had a bad childhood and had to work before completing his education. He wrote many novels and short stories. His two best-known works are David Copperfield and Great Expectations. Another writer is Charlotte and Emily Bronte. Bronte sisters inspire from experiences and reflected on their works. The most known works are Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) and Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte).

Jane Eyre and David Copperfield are the two most important novels. Jane Eyre of Charlotte Bronte is about the love between two persons, religious repression and male supremacy. It supports women’s rights. This work effects from Romanticism movement. The author inspires by own life. Jane has no parents. She starts to living her aunt-in-law. There are other children at home and they never get along. Jane is sent to boarding school by aunt-in-law and gets rid of her. Although hardships, she makes great friendships at school. She loses her best friend in an epidemic Typhus. Jane leaves the school as a teacher and gets a job. She takes care of a child and then becomes friend with the child’s father (Mr.Rochester). Mr.Rochester is married and he keeps his wife in loft. After learning this, Jane leaves home with disappointment. Jane looks for a job in a town, stays at st.John home.John proposes marriage to Jane but does not accept. She hears sound of Mr.Rochester at a moment, goes to see the Mr.Rochester. The house burns, his wife dies, Mr.Rochester loses one’s sight. They decide to get married, Mr.Rochester is treated and sees their first child.

David Copperfield of Charles Dickens is about a child growing up with stepfather, social relations, education system. His father dies before David was born. He grows up with his mother and childminder. After a while his mother marries someone. This man is tough and rude. His father dies before David was born. He grows up with mother and childminder. After a while his mother marries someone. This man is tough and rude. David is constantly beaten and marginalized. Davis is sent to boarding school. His mother dies with new baby. Stepfather sends to London to work but he does not like where he goes. He decides to find his aunt and finds. He begins a new life and goes to school. He is successful in lessons and becomes a lawyer. David marries a girl named Dora and Dora falls, dies. Later, marries with Agnes, his schoolmate. He is happy now.

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

(David Copperfield Mr Micawber's advice to David Copperfield, Chapter 12)

“Ride on! Rough-shod if need be, smooth-shod if that will do, but ride on! Ride on over all obstacles, and win the race!”

(David Copperfield James Steerforth to David Copperfield, Chapter 28)

John had not much affection for his mother and sisters, and an antipathy to me. He bullied and punished me…every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh on my bones shrunk when he came near…the servants did not like to offend their young master by taking my part against him, and Mrs. Reed was blind and deaf on the subject: she never saw him strike or heard him abuse me, though he did both now and then in her very presence—more frequently, however, behind her back.

( Jane Eyre, Chapter 1-4)

“You have saved my life; I have a pleasure in owing you so immense a debt. I cannot say more. Nothing else that has being would have been tolerable to me in the character of creditor for such an obligation; but you, is different—I feel your benefits no burden, Jane…I knew…you would do me good in some way at some time; I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you”

( Jane Eyre, Chapter 11-16)

Both novels have common themes patterns that I mentioned above. Both have a hard life, causes, and what they are. David and Jane are fatherless or motherless children. They struggle with life on their own. There is constant pain in their lives. Despite all these experiences, one becomes a teacher and the other becomes a lawyer. Charlotte and Charles effect determinism, historicism. Writers base on in chronological order. For David, has sentimentalism in addition to melodrama and idealism. Sentimentalism contains childhood and suffering experiences, pastoral setting. To give an example of determinism, Jane becomes an independent woman and teacher. In David, Betsey is an independent woman. Flat is usually one feature. Static does not change. Dynamic is change. David is round of flat. Jane is a narrative of love. The narration of both is the autodiegetic.

We call this kind of novel Bildungsroman because it includes all the stages I wrote. To both writers are inspired by his own life, one of the characters is female and the other is male. As a result of, in line with this information, Bildungsroman is a literary genre that has specific features.

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Victorian Age English Literature: Jane Eyre And David Copperfield. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“Victorian Age English Literature: Jane Eyre And David Copperfield.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022,
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