- Victorian literature, features
- The role of fiction
- The impact of society
A popular literary form in the nineteenth century was the Bildungsroman, a German term meaning the novel of learning or education:
Typically, this would dramatise the intellectual and/or emotional education of a young man
- It provided a model for many well-known European novels of the nineteenth century, such as Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and Charles Dickens's David Copperfield (1849-50).
This kind of novel became popular in the nineteenth century following the publication in 1795-6 of J. W. von Goethe's Wilhlem Meister's Lehrjahre (Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship)
The young main character of such novels has to achieve emotional and intellectual maturity, negotiating a way through the intricacies of social conventions and expectations
The main character in such novels undergoes difficulty and suffering as well as pleasure and satisfaction (usually more of the former than the latter)
He or she has to learn to observe, understand and judge characters, their actions and surrounding social structure
It can thus be used as a means of commenting on, satirizing and challenging established social norms.
Such novels may offer opportunities for learning for their readers as well as their central characters.
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