English Literature A2: Love in Victorian Literature


One of the problems with Victorian Literature is the sheer quantity, though the good news is the fact that you will probably have come across quite a few texts already in your studies at school and when you were doing your AS Literature work, so don’t panic!

Drama is probably the most difficult area for love but I would look first at the plays of Oscar Wilde as they seem to have the greatest variety of happy and sad love, together with occasionally love which is just a little bit odd.

When looking at novels, you will find interesting views of idealised and disappointed love in Middlemarch from both the female and male point of view, and Charlotte Bronte’s works are good for true love which overcomes all obstacles. Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd can also give you several different types of love all in the one book, a case of buy one get several free!

The love of the happily married can be in seen in Elizabeth Barratt Browning’s Sonnets From the Portuguese, whilst the less pleasant side of love can be seen in some of her husband’s poetry, such as My Last Duchess and Porphyria’s Lover. Look also at some of Tennyson’s sensual love poetry, for example the extract from The Princess, which begins, ‘Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white…’ Lost love is explored in many Victorian poems like Kingsley’s The Sands of Dee and in several of Christina Rossetti’s poems.

Looking through these texts should give you a good overview of most of those types of love we have talked about. Do make sure, though, that for each of the texts you read you write a note on the type or types of love they cover and that you find a short but apt quote to sum up the type or types of love in each text. Then guard your notes with your life until revision time!

 

 

 

 

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