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David Copperfield as an example of the Victorian socio-critical novel

Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House  

Page 4

The socio-critical novel started to flourish in public and its authors tried to criticise the circumstances mentioned above and discuss the pros and cons of social reforms. The novel was very important to convey social criticism, as it could be widely spread among the reading public. And especially for those, who didn’t know about those social problems from their own experience, these novels were an interesting means of enlightenment, with regards to the criticism of the system. Many of the social novels appearing at that time were serialized, as they could be made more affordable being published that way.
The Victorian Social Novel can roughly be divided into three different stages: the early, the middle and the late Victorian Social Novel.

In the Early Victorian Social Novel (1830 - 1850), the industrial system was to blame for the bad living conditions of the workers. However, it was not considered an abstract, but rather manifested itself in individuals, like good and bad factory owners, responsible and irresponsible ones. And there was an unshakeable belief in morality and that those who were bad could be converted to good ones, those who were irresponsible could be made responsible. The authors at that time drew less attention to the details of the world of work and its machines, but rather preferred the depiction of physically and mentally injured people, because of their work. Therefore many metaphors were used to describe the prevailing social conditions, such as “Jungle of Work”, “Prison of Work” or “Subjugation of the worker through the machine”.

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