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

Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House  

Page 5

Many writers even considered it convenient to draw comparisons to hell and Satan. Another phrase that became quite famous at that time was “Cash Nexus”, which intended to describe money as the basis of all social relationships. The main points of criticism in that early Victorian age  were the condemnation of workhouses, the rightlessness of the poor and the destruction of families. In an attempt to solve the problem, the flight to nature was often offered as a solution, as nature was considered one of the last remaining ideals.

The main feature of the Middle Victorian Social Novel (1850 – 1880) was no longer the attempt to present solutions to current social problems, but rather the reflection of the “Golden Age Of British Capitalism”. A certain amount of optimism developed in the mind of the workers and as a consequence there was a decline of socio-critical elements. Furthermore, an ideal that emerged at that time was the image of the diligent and honest worker, who could achieve upward mobility, by just  labouring hard enough and trying to change his condition. And at the same time there was the condemnation of lazy people who could not rise to the occasion of industrialism and man’s predestination to work. Subsequently, success was believed to be the natural consequence of good moral qualities and  the willingness to contribute a certain amount of work to the industrialized world. Finally the power of the system and its institutions was made responsible for many social misstandings and not only common people, but also successful businessmen were considered to be its victims. However, especially people like Dickens expressed heavy doubts towards the implausible ideal of upward mobility.

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