Throughout the 19th Century, both the Romantic and Victorian age have emerged pivotal concerns, in which we correlate with today’s society. It is through these concerns that in this day and age, we can feel a deeper connection and have meaningful and creative lives as we continually opened to the world who previously experienced the struggles and questions in which we do now.
The women of the Romantic age expressed the way they felt; many authors and poems shared that they were stereotyped and repressed due to social values. It was through this, that a feminist power seized itself into the 19th Century. Women such as Dorothy Wordsworth and Mary Wollstonecraft were brought into the light, where women were able to voice their opinions and express their discontent with their own societies. With the strong movement of women’s rights in the 21st Century, we now have been encouraged to speak the perspective of women and so forth be labelled as feminists. This has taken a toll on the way the world is perceived as people who have a more appealing voice in the world such as ‘UN Women Goodwill Ambassador’, Emma Watson, has recently been able to make this happen with her debut and influential UN speech “He for She” in 2014. Likewise, Jane Austen took a similar but dividing route in her novel “Emma”, as she portrayed the protagonist as someone who wanted to control every element of her mundane lifestyle. From this, we now have come to terms with the fact that life forges its own path and we are just along for the ride. A similar experience emerges when Emma tries to match make who she thinks belongs to who. However, she discovers towards the end, she has a deep and uneasy revelation in her life when she realises something she can’t control, her vulnerable and stripped back feelings.
Another author who gauged their audiences in the Victorian Era was Charles Dickens with his novel “Hard Times”. He bases his idea of an ‘Imaginative Freedom’ around a young circus girl named Sissy Jupe. Her role as the protagonist it to optimise the way of freedom, to take risks and live one’s life to the fullest. However, some may say that the antagonist, Mr Gragrind, who was her teacher and later on in the novel her guardian detested everything about her and what she stood for. In the world we live in today, this can be an ongoing theme with people of a higher status or people who believe in the importance of facts and the utilitarian lifestyle. These usefulness factors still stand in today’s society. People who are seen as poor, ‘not normal’, rebel against what they have already been given stand in the place of Sissy Jupe. These people are ones who express their mind on topics some are unwilling to touch. For example, now we have a civilisation were LGBTI’s are free to express their creative minds through makeup, colours, and even who they are in the world.
Art in the 19th Century has made an enormous impact on the way people feel and view the world today. An incredible piece by Eugene Von Guerard “Milford Sound” (1877-1879) reflects the balance that can be created through realistic and non-realistic feelings. This constant essence of being comfortable with nature can be seen through the colour palette. Starting from the top of the painting the lilac and grey sky to the brown and green rocky mountains then gazing into the crystal blue water onto to the pulled back green and brown land. When looking at the feelings artist receive today, it shows them that there is no limit in the way art can be expressed and that the colours they choose to do so display the powerful meaning and feeling they receive from their environment and landscape. Another artwork which reveals the concerns of the time is Frederic Lord Leighton’s piece “Cymon and Iphigenia” (1884). Cymon means beast and foreshadows the idea that this individual is a reckless person, however, seems to be smitten with Iphigenia who reveals herself as a symbol of seduction. In this time images like this were very popular but frowned upon. In the 21st Century, they are increasingly prevalent to express the emotion of the time and how one individual or one experience can change another’s ways.
Finally, one novel in which I truly would recommend to anyone who would want to explore literature would be George Eliot’s “Silas Marner”. Although the story is about Marner, the thing that sprung itself onto me was the character, Godfrey Cass and his relatability to 21st Century. Cass is seen as a harsh persona who is only concerned with his wealth and his image. If that doesn’t sound like the 21st-century stereotype then I don’t know what else could be. Later on in this story, he wants to take his love child back for himself and his new wife and claims that she would be better off with the wealth he has. The mistake that this character has made and that I guess most individuals seems to make is that the infatuation with money has nothing to do with the person and their identity. His biological daughter, Eppie has grown up with a loving step-father (Marner) and has become the loving, caring and generous person she is due to his paternal instincts. This story can be seen as a ‘man in the mirror’ reflection. Cass needs to look at himself and see that money doesn’t solve everything it is the love you have for the people around you and in this case, it’s for his daughter.
As you can probably notice by my summary I really enjoyed learning and diving into the world of 19th Century Literature and Art. I do strongly believe that through the Romantic and Victorian Ages authors, novelists, poets, dramatists and artists highlight concerns in which we as the 21st Century civilisation incur. These forms of literature truly express in more ways than one how our creative and meaningful lives can be truly lived to the fullest and I’m extremely taken back by how much they do this.