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

Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House  

Page 6

In the Late Victorian Social Novel (1880 – 1910) there was a new wave of accusing elements and from  there the so-called “Slum Novel” developed: it mainly criticized, as may be deferred from the name, the mostly bad living conditions in slums and contained lots of pessimistic components. Reason for this was the belief in naturalism, that is that man is a product of his environment and his living conditions and therefore a positive development of humans in slums is not possible. The consequence was that man was predestined to his class and that there was no way of escape, whatsoever.

Again the debate about socialism arose: the main problem seemed to be the monotony and the sadness in the life of the workers and help could only be provided through the improvement of the living conditions by patriarchs. The novels acquired a dark and dreary mood, as they proclaimed the uselessness of  social reforms and criticised the class-system. Socialism seemed to be the only way for improvement of society.[2]

[2] cf. Gross, Konrad, Der Englische Soziale Roman im 19. Jahrhundert

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