Victorian Society: The Impact Of History On Victorian Literature

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The Impact of History on Victorian Literature
Victorian England was a battleground of opposing ideas. Grenades of revolution were being dropped on hierarchy. As the fence separating farmers from aristocrats was being torn down, lovers were already tying their knots between the links. The shackles placed upon women, limiting their reach to the world, were being removed by individually earned wages. However, many errors in society still existed. Those who had battled against the antediluvian ideas were mainly working class citizens that were becoming restless as they writhed under the thumb of those at the top of the social pyramid. This movement towards a more egalitarian society was reinforced by many writers of the Victorian era. The
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We first see the inner workings of Emma’s stratified mind when she insists that Harriet is of a higher social level than the likes of Robert Martin. Jane Austen states, “Those soft blue eyes, and all those natural graces, should not be wasted on the inferior society of Highbury and its connections” (13). She goes on to explain how the Martins lived in a parish, just as all the poor did in the early 1800s. It is sensible that Emma would have a hatred for people in the Martins’ class since those were the ones leaching money from the aristocracy by living in tax-funded parishes. This directly connects the people of Emma’s class to those in real-world England that would soon be clamoring for an amendment to the Poor Laws. Nonetheless, Emma still takes note of Mr. Martin being a good man. In a discussion between Harriet and Emma about the kindness of Mr. Martin Jane Austen writes, “He had gone three miles round one day in order to bring her some walnuts, because she had said how fond she was of them, and in everything else he was so very obliging” (22). This act by Mr. Martin is proof that Austen wanted to portray the characters that were considered inadequate by upper-class citizens in the book in a good light to show the reader that they were respectable people despite what the elitists may say. Of these aristocrats is Emma, who continuously talks about how she is the pinnacle of social status and does not involve herself with those below her, yet she still takes a girl of unknown lineage under her wing and raises her to be a proper lady in the high life. She keeps Harriet by her side at all times, which gives her the illusion of higher social status by association. Emma’s friendship with Harriet flourishes and by the end of the story, Emma realizes that Harriet is much more than just

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