The Victorian era was a complex and contradictory time. It was marked by progress, stability, and great social reforms, but it was also characterized by poverty, injustice, and social unrest. The Victorians upheld a set of values that reflected the world as they wanted it to be, rather than how it truly was. These values included personal duty, hard work, respectability, and charity. Hard work was seen as essential for improving society, and respectability distinguished the middle class from the lower class. Respectability was a mixture of morality, hypocrisy, severity, and conformity to social norms. It included good manners, the ownership of a comfortable home with servants and a carriage, regular attendance at church, and charitable activities.
Philanthropy was widespread during this era. The wealthy middle class exploited the poor mercilessly, yet still managed to help those in need, such as "street children, fallen women, and drunk men". Men were seen as the authority figures, while women's role was primarily focused on childrearing and housework.
Sexuality was generally suppressed in both public and private forms. Extreme prudery led to the condemnation of nudity in art and the rejection of sexually charged words from everyday vocabulary.
FAITH AND PROGRESS
The Victorian era was the age of novels, as they captured the complexity and profound changes of the period. For the first time, writers and readers shared a common set of values, including optimism, conformity, and philanthropy. The writers portrayed society as they saw it, and while they were aware of its flaws, they did not criticize it. Instead, they aimed to make readers aware of social injustices and to express their fears and doubts.
The city was a common setting for these novels, as it symbolized the industrial civilization, the expression of anonymous lives, and lost identities.
The Dandy was a bourgeois artist who, despite his discomfort, remained a member of his class. The concept of "Art for Art's Sake" was prevalent, where the function of art was to provide eternal beauty, and only art and beauty could save from evil and destruction.Ascolta su Spreaker.
Whitman was born in New York to a working-class family. He received limited formal education and began his career as an office boy before becoming a journalist. At the age of thirty, he travelled through New York, New Orleans, and Chicago, and discovered the vastness of his country and the diversity of its people. During the Civil War, he dedicated himself to visiting wounded soldiers in army hospitals, continuing to believe in the value of democracy and technological progress.
Whitman's poetry was included in the ninth edition of "Leaves of Grass." The first edition featured a picture of a working man. "Leaves of Grass" is not a collection of poems, but rather a lifelong poem.
Whitman rejected traditional forms and structures, as he felt they imposed rigidity and completion upon a reality that is constantly changing. His poetry is characterized by optimism and a romantic belief in the dynamic future of the nation. Another theme in his work is his mission to respond to the spirit of his country, to give voice to the common people, to reveal the truth like a prophet.
He saw himself as encompassed by other men and women.
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