Victorian Era - Influence of Context Upon Texts

Topics: Sociology, Victorian era, Social class Pages: 3 (973 words) Published: July 6, 2013
Question: The study of the Victorian era involved developing a greater appreciation of previous social and literary contexts. Discuss this statement with close study to the texts you’ve studied in class. The study of the Victorian era has informed my appreciation of previous social and literary contexts, as it reveals that texts do not exist in a vacuum, instead they are composed within very specific social, cultural and political contexts and as such their composers use the texts to both reflect and subvert the dominant values of the time. The Victorian era, ranging from 1837 until 1901,was a phase that put a particular emphasis of being refinement, propriety, politeness and sexual prudishness and texts composed during this era reflect such aspects of the context.This is evident in Robert Browning’s poems “Porphyria’s Lover” and “My Last Duchess” which explore the strict class divisions and the patriarchal dominance within society; conveying messages which conform to the social paradigm of the context. In comparison, Charles Dickens’s short story “Mr Minns and his cousin” which challenges the social conventions of the era through its portrayal of the dire consequences when one accepts and follows the conventions of the era. Browning’s poem “Porphyria’s Lover” demonstrates how context and existing ways of thinking can shape meaning within a text. Constructed in the Victorian era, this text explores ideas involving the social paradigm of the context, essentially conveying the consequences of challenging strict class structures placed on individuals through portraying the disastrous effect of upper and lower class interaction. The text’s title, “Porphyria’s Lover”, which alludes to a disease highlights that the persona is being infected by Porphyria to point where it makes him sick, suggesting that inter-class relationships are abnormal and unhealthy. Porphyria is implied to be of higher social status than the persona through the diction in “When in glided in...
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