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The Treatment of Childhood in Victorian Literature Annotated Bibliography

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Berry, L.C. 1999, The Child, the State, and the Victorian Novel. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.

The author analyzes the main features of childhood in Victorian novels and tries to explain the image of victimized children predominant in major nineteenth-century novels. The author investigates social and political factors of the victimized child image and marriage-centered plots. The book vividly portrays that Victorian novel is, among other things, the record of a society seeking ways to adjust itself to revolutionary conditions. The Victorians found themselves living in a world whose novel demands they were wholly unprepared to meet. It was a crucial moment in modern history. This source is objective presenting views and opinions about the issue and its manifestations in popular novels.

Blumberg, I. 2005, Collins’s Moonstone: The Victorian Novel as Sacrifice, Theft, Gift and Debt. Studies in the Novel, vol. 37, Iss. 1, p. 162.

In this research, the author addresses the problems and themes of Collins’s Moonstone. The author analyzes the socio-economic conditions of the Victorian era and the treatment of children in literature. Charging the spirit of the age, lending it both exultation and terror, was the keen sense of change of which Blumberg spoke. In many ways, cities were in truth unpleasant places for children to live. A candid examination of the way people lived in the Victorian countryside (or for that matter any countryside) might have led some believers in the superiority of rural vs urban dwellers to think differently. This source is accurate and objective but lacks examples and deep analysis of the issues of childhood and hardship faced by many children in Victorian novels.

Christ, C.T. Jordan, J.O. 1995, Victorian Literature and the Victorian Visual Imagination. University of California Press.

In this book, the authors analyze the Victorian era and its representation in literature. They believe that public morality depended upon private virtue. The well-being of society was derived from the spiritual health of its individual members. While some Victorian writers sought to cultivate the individual’s intelligence as the necessary preliminary to attainment of “rational” happiness, Dickens and Austin concentrated on purifying the soul and leading their steps along the path of righteousness. Not only did they make their moral convictions available for the guidance of the unenlightened: they worked to make them prevail. The importance of this source is that it evaluates the whole era and its traditions which help to understand the issues of childhood and its connection with social and economic problems.

Fisher, J. 1997, Ethical Narrative in Dickens and Thackeray. Studies in the Novel, vol. 29, Iss. p. 108.

The article is aimed to compare the portrayal of childhood in Dickens and Thackeray. Special attention is given to ethical issues and values followed by Victorian society. Aspirations toward realism in fiction were constantly defeated by this informal censorship, which was more effective than any legal measures could have been. The author underlines that the same code of prudential morality to which the employing class subscribed was enjoined upon the worker. Fisher finds that there is a conflict between cultural images and the vitality of a “real” self. The source is objective and is based on careful analysis of critical interpretation of both Dickens and Thackeray. Thus, the author presents his vision of childhood and the treatment of children.

Gargano, E. 2007, Reading Victorian Schoolrooms: Childhood and Education in Nineteenth-Century Fiction (Children’s Literature and Culture). Routledge.

This book analyzes the life of children and their education opportunities during the Victorian era. The author underlines that the movement to purify the moral climate of England, toward which the Church as a whole had adopted a laissez-faire attitude. Meanwhile, despite their theoretical acknowledgment that social legislation might sometimes be required by circumstances, the state did little to promote it. The portrayal of children as victims was important for the society which valued strict morals and social rules in every public matter. When “immorality” was almost equated with treason, for it was thought to be sapping the strength of a beleaguered nation. This book is important because it discusses one of the most important issues of life – education, and development.

Joseph, G. 2000, Prejudice in Jane Austen, Emma Tennant Charles Dickens-And Us. Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 40, Iss. 4., pp. 679.

In this article, the author gives special attention to women writers and their perception of childhood. The author underlines that it was not prejudiced alone which stood in the way of a just understanding of the Victorians and what they were about. Prejudice could be nullified in time, especially prejudice as violent as this anti-Victorianism was; its excesses guaranteed that in time it would prove self-defeating.

Nothing did more to rehabilitate the Victorians as a society worthy not only of study but of deep respect than, for instance, the discovery that Austen, far from being the mere popular entertainer she had been tagged by previous criticism.

Levine, C. 2003, The Serious Pleasures of Suspense: Victorian Realism and Narrative Doubt (Victorian Literature and Culture Series). University of Virginia Press.

The author tries to explain the image and position of children in Victorian novels through a social lens. The Victorian middle-class temper resembled that of the Evangelicals’ spiritual ancestors, the Puritans of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They believed that public morality depended upon private virtue. Yet those pressures were not all-pervasive, or at least there were numerous people strong enough to withstand them.

Dickens’ numerous eccentrics, amiable like Mr. Dick, grotesque like Miss Havisham, reflected the presence of many such characters in real life, men and women who, for various obscure or manifest reasons, defied the tyranny of convention. The value of this source is that it describes and analyzes the position of children in Victorian novels through a deep analysis of economic and social problems, political relations, and historical influence.

Levy, E.P. 1995, Dicken’s Pathology of Time in ‘Hard Times.’ Journal article by Eric P.; Philological Quarterly, vol. 74, Iss. 1, p. 189.

The article analyzes the treatment of children by Dickens and his unique approach to social-economic issues of Victorian England. The author pays special attention to the character-building and themes of this novel. The ethic of work, combined with the cultivation of all the other relevant virtues, was used by Dickens. During Victorian times, children were directed and guided by parents or teachers in order to follow strict morals and values typical for this historical period. The source is objective and accurate based on a deep analysis of critical literature and other studies about Dickens and his writing style.

Machann, C. 2005, The Male Villain as Domestic Tyrant in Daniel Deronda: Victorian Masculinities and the Cultural Context of George Eliot’s Novel. The Journal of Men’s Studies, vol. 13, Iss. 3, p. 327.

This research article compares the image of a male domestic tyrant in George Eliot’s Novel and Browning’s novels. The author finds that both writers were realists and idealists portraying the epoch and its values. From earliest childhood, consequently, on all levels of society, both at home and at school, the Victorians were accustomed to Biblical language and story to an extent almost inconceivable today. This meant that writers if they chose—and they often did choose, for the sake of maximum effect—could employ prose redolent with Biblical style and dense with Biblical allusion. A father often used religious faith to threaten a child and guided his behavior. The sources are accurate and objective based on theoretical concepts and notions.

Nishimura, S. 2005, Language, Violence, and Irrevocability: Speech Acts in “Tess of the D ‘Urbervilles.” Studies in the Novel, vol. 37, Iss. 2, p. 208.

The author concentrates on the novel Tess of the d’Urberville by Thomas Hardy. The author analyzes the unique social environment and family values typical for many Victorian families. The author explains that children were treated as victims because they were not socially protected from violence and abuse. For many Victorian writers, language means were the main stylistic devices used to portray family relations and communication. This is what was meant by the Victorians’ notorious prudery, which extended, of course, to all language—ordinary speech as well as print—and to pictures and sculpture revealing more of the human body than many people were prepared to admit existed. Indelicacy was almost as much to be deplored as blasphemy. The source is objective and interesting presenting unique ideas and opinions of the author.

Rosenman, E.B. 2003, “Mimic Sorrows”: Masochism and the Gendering of Pain in Victorian Melodrama. Studies in the Novel, 35, 22.

This is a unique research study based on the analysis of childhood through gender relations. The author pays special attention to concepts of melodrama and masochism. The article portrays that portraying children as victims helped Victorian writers appeal to the emotions and feelings of readers. ‘Melodramatic masochism’ was based on pain, suffering, and hardship vividly portrayed in novels. The motivation behind human conduct, and that the achievement of pleasure and the avoidance of pain alone constitute self-interest. The only determinant of personal or social action, in any given situation, was the demonstrated preponderance of “good” results over “bad” results. The source is accurate but subjective reflecting a personal view and opinion of the author and his unique interpretation of childhood in Victorian novels.

Shiller, D. 1997, The Redemptive Past in the Neo-Victorian Novel. Studies in the Novel, vol. 29, Iss. 4, p. 339-349.

The research applies traditional Victorian themes and motives to modern novels and evaluates their impact on neo-Victorian literature. It underlines that the life and destiny of children were subjected wit social norms and values, family location, and class. The system of moral arithmetic illustrates the pedantic dependence on formula, the confidence in the universal and uniform operation of theoretical moral forces, which ruled the Victorian mind. An ideology advocating inveterate skepticism toward all the institutions and practices of organized society made no provision for self-criticism. This source is accurate and based on careful analysis of critical literature and Victorian novels.

Stokes, S. P. 2001, Bentham, Dickens and the Uses of the Workhouse. Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 41, Iss. 1, p. 711.

This is unique research by S.P. Stokes who analyzes the theme and setting of the Victorian workhouse in novels. the author states that Dickens had described the large-scale slum clearance and engineering operations incident to bringing the railroad into the metropolis, and this was but one phase of a continuous process of demolition and reconstruction. Similar to other researchers, Stokes underlines a crucial role of supervision and guidance in the life of Victorian children. Childhood was not a happy time for children oppressed by their parents. This source is the objective and accurate presenting personal position of the author and analysis of the critical literature.

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