Victorian Age : Symbolism, Naturalism and Aesthetism

Victorian Age
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Categories : Literary Criticism

Victorian Age:

Victorian Age
Literary Criticism in the Victorian Age

Victorian Age: The 19th century witnessed massive social and political transformations; this was the age of nationalism and imperialism. Even as nation-states like Germany and Italy came into existence in Europe, European powers embarked on an imperialistic exercise which would transform the history of the world. Nonetheless, another important development was also unfolding in Europe, and this was the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution saw a mass migration of people to urban areas which were becoming centers of manufacturing and commerce. The means of transportation and communication improved rapidly during this time to enable the movement of this rising population and to facilitate faster and more profitable business to take place. Very soon cities and the factory/office replaced the village with its church as the center of life. Thus a new class, the working class came into being. 

In the Middle, Ages man was viewed as a part of the social whole. His place was predefined under the Chain of Being. Any event that occurred reverberated from the here and the now to all of creation. Therefore human actions were not significant in themselves; rather they were the means of proving predestination and other medieval ideas. This ideological stance significantly reduced the individual’s significance and his ability to transform his environment.

 Bourgeois thought evolved out of a desire to undermine these feudal values. The ability of the individual to experience the world in the here and the now in material terms that were definable, replicable, and measurable was the central focus of bourgeois ideology. Therefore Science replaced theology as the arbiter of knowledge for the bourgeois. The bourgeois performed a revolutionary role as long as they challenged feudalism; however, in the 19th century, they became rather status quo. The Industrial Revolution saw the rise of the working class, and a clash between the bourgeois and the working class became inevitable. This clash is reflected in the social, political, and ideological fields and is a characteristic feature of the 19th century. 

bourgeois and positivism

Two ideological stances are identifiable in the 19th century; one draws from mainstream bourgeois, Enlightenment ideals, and is termed “positivism,” while the other reflects the challenge that the industrial workforce presented to bourgeois ideology in various forms of Socialism inspired by Marx and Engels. Much of the 19th century can be seen as the site of this clash in the social, political, theological, literary and ideological fronts. 

For the bourgeois, the here and the now was extremely important. He viewed the ‘self’ as important, but as important was the ability of the ‘self’ to experience itself both within and in isolation of the ‘world.’ He also considered the individual to be of utmost importance; however, any experience that this individual underwent gained significance only when looked at through the prism of the larger community. 

Hegel succeeded in achieving a harmony between these contradictions and successfully articulated a bourgeois vision of reason and historical progress. His thought is based on a rejection of the world as a given and an imperative to refashion it in the image of our rationality. In other words, as long as man was rational human progress was assured. In Hegel’s view of the world, bourgeois thought is a predominant but essentially a one-sided component in a larger scheme that included the virtues of Romanticism and religion. This balance proved temporary in the face of social changes.

The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution

The industrialization and urbanization of Europe and the exploitation that was occurring in its wake challenged not only man’s ability to create but also his positioning himself as a rationalist creature. It questioned the validity of the world as it existed in the here and the now and encouraged the possibility of the existence of a world that was different. Such thinking was anathema for the bourgeois and therefore he reacted against Hegel’s beliefs. This reaction is called “positivism” which is a rejection of the “négative philosophy” of Hegel.


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Emile Durkheim
Herbert Spenser
Herbert Spenser
Auguste Comte
Auguste Comte

Positivism is essentially a conservative reaction to the changes occurring in the world. It emerged from the “positive” thinkers like Emile Durkheim, Auguste Comte, and Herbert Spenser who wished to exclude from investigation all hypotheses that were not empirically verifiable. Science was the new ‘God’ for the positivists. Any experience that could not be observed, replicated, and empirically verified was suspect. It should come as no surprise then that they rejected all notions of the divine and all a priori laws of perception that transcended the realm of observational certitude.

Positivism was a conservation reaction because it accepted the propriety of the world as a given. In sociology it is seen in Durkheim’s attempts to isolate a distinctly “social” fact; Freud’s obsession with the scientific status of his work shows the ascendancy of positivism in the field of psychology; in social thought, it is seen in Herbert Spenser’s work on evolution. Ideologically positivism took the form of privileging the world as given and being disinclined to any kind of change. In the field of literary criticism, positivism is reflected in realism and naturalism which shall be discussed later. 
The 1840s witnessed the rise of realism in Europe and America as a reaction against the perceived idealization and introspection of Romanticism. The term ‘realism’ gained valency in the 1830s when the Young Germans, reacting against Romantic ideals, rejected the idea of aesthetic autonomy in favor of a politically interventional realism. In 1855 Gustav Courbet held an exhibition of his paintings after they had been rejected by the Paris World Fair under the title ‘realism.’ These paintings presented “a slice of life,” divorced from all moral, emotional, and aesthetic investment.

According to Edmond Duranty, realistic works were truthful, sincere, and modern. He suggested that novels should reflect the lives of the working-classes and the middle-classes. Similarly, Champfleury, in his essays Le Realisme, pointed out another characteristic of realistic writing: scrupulous documentation free from all moral constraints. Realism influenced not just the creation of art but also its criticism.

According to Taine, every work was a function of the race, milieu, and the moment in which it was created. It was the critic’s responsibility in discovering these. Since the text, according to realism, scrupulously reflected the reality of the lived world in which it was created, it revealed the psychology of the writer and the age.

Realism’s attention to detail is seen in the work of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, who, through a minute representation of detail, tried to revive moral seriousness and directness in art. The subsequent development of photography and the idea of photographic accuracy further influenced the development of realism in art and literature. 

As reflected in the works of George Eliot and Charles Dickens, realism attempted to present a truthful and accurate representation of the observed external world and the self as it negotiated with it. To do this, realistic writers paid close attention to direct observation, factuality, experience, and induction (arriving at general truths only based on repeated experience).

charles dickens
charles dickens
george eliot
George Eliot

Realistic writing in the Victorian age is characterized by a preponderance of descriptive and evocative detail, and, an avoidance of all fantastical and mythical elements. Only events that probably find mention in realistic writing and all impossible and improbable events are excluded. Writers use a simple style marked by colloquialisms and everyday speech, as well as directness and simplicity of expression. This is accompanied by a conscious rejection of the use of elevated language. Since realism focuses on the present, and the here and the now, therefore characters and incidents from all social strata find mention in realistic writing. The focus of writers is on contemporary issues and incidents; there is no longing for some idealized past. 

Since realism (along with the lines of photography) focuses attention on the particular, oftentimes the experience is divorced from its immediate surroundings, making it, and the experiencing subject, unidimensional. These are seen only in terms of causality, chronology, and definable motive. Thus reality becomes a ‘given’ and unchangeable. It is in this inability to perceive alternate ‘realities’ that realism reveals its conservative strain. Interestingly, though writers present a “slice of life,” they are not averse to manipulating so-called facts to critique repressive social conditions.

Gustave Flaubert
Gustave Flaubert

This is in line with Flaubert’s belief that though the artist needed to take a cold look at life, the raw material of life had to be worked on. This tension in realism is evident in the works of George Eliot. Though she attempts to portray truth through a direct experience of the world; her work reveals her awareness of the inability of language to express actual psychological states. She consistently resists confining the complexity of experience into preconceived categories. She presents her characters in their actual, imperfect state, and refuses to hold them up to impossible ideals. Thus, though she is realistic in technique, she resists the status quo of the theory and can perceive the beauty in ordinary things and events. 

William Makepeace Thackeray
William Makepeace Thackeray
Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy

Thackeray, Dickens, George Eliot, Anthony Trollope, and Thomas Hardy were all realists. Their work touched the political, social, and religious concerns of 19th century England. One of the greatest influences on the development of realism in England was George Henry Lewes, Eliot’s partner. He examined the human psychology as intimately related to social conditions. The 19th century, as we have already seen, saw great upheaval. It is therefore inevitable that artists in England and Europe focused on the impact of these changes on the lives of the people, especially the working classes.

Moreover, these transformations were so dramatic and far-reaching that very often artists found themselves overwhelmed by the changes themselves. This focus on the material, visible aspects is apparent in the paintings, novels, and music of the time. A corollary of this representation of the ‘real’ implied that this world that the artist represented was a given and could not be changed.

Since what was photographed ‘existed’ and was ‘real;’ what the novelists and painters depicted could be seen around them in their everyday lives; what psychologists researched could be replicated and measured; what scientists discovered could be observed, replicated and measured; the ‘real’ observable world became something that could be trusted and was believable. In other words, the way things were was perfect and any change was impossible.

This conclusion that the pursuit of realism takes us to is extremely problematic. In an age of imperialism when European powers were cutting a swathe around the world destroying ancient civilizations and subjugating peoples and when increasing industrialization was resulting in exploitation of the working classes in Europe accepting the given world unreservedly meant continuing these exploitative circumstances.

Thus realism as it was theorized and as it was practiced, especially by the novelists differs substantially. Therefore, even though Thackeray, Dickens, Eliot, Trollope, and Hardy were realists, their work reveals an acknowledgment of the fact that it is a problematic concept and is often impossible to achieve. These novelists use the techniques of symbolism and authorial perspective to remedy the contradictions between the tenets of realism and their critical perspectives.

A salient feature of their works is a scathing criticism of social conditions. Instead of simply recording events and scenarios as they find them, these novelists manipulate facts to question the status quo and make a case for social change and transformation. 

Art for art’s sake

It is clear then that even though realism demanded a scrupulously honest amoral rendition of the world the artist sees, this was never really the case. “Art for art’s sake” was never really a possibility. Flaubert was keenly aware of the fact that the raw materials of life or experience needed to be worked on by art.

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Love and the Maiden

Similarly, George Eliot was cognizant of the difficulty of expressing truth and reality. This is especially so since ‘realism’ assumes the existence of ‘one reality’ which is unquestionably acceptable to all. In other words, it denies the possibility of the existence of a multiplicity of experiences and realities. Moreover, any attempt to question and undermine this overarching reality was seen as an attempt to destabilize society and therefore needed to be suppressed and rejected. It is for this reason that realism is seen as a conservative response to the rise of the working classes and their struggle for achieving their rights. 


 Naturalism, which implies the study of nature, is often viewed as an extreme form of realism. In literature, naturalism draws on the principles of causality, determinism, explanation, and experimentation. The naturalist writer observes a man and his passions; he believes that events and actions arise from specific causes. 

Emile Zola
Emile Zola

Naturalism is a rejection of Romanticism and all types of mysticism. According to Zola, under whose influence naturalism emerged, the writing of his time was marked by an undue emphasis on form and lyric. Going against this he insisted that a naturalistic novel should be rooted in actuality and should be based on an observation of human beings and their passions. Thus, in this fiction, the author altered the conditions and circumstances of the characters created by him, to posit causes for their actions. In other words, the novel becomes a tool to conduct an inquiry on man to reveal the “absolute determinism for all human phenomena.”

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin

Naturalists draw on Darwin’s theory of the struggle for existence and view the interactions between individuals and their environment in this light. In naturalistic fiction, the psychologically and physically determined dimensions of characters are overwhelmed by accidental circumstances. Therefore characters are inherently tragic and cannot act rationally, freely, and heroically upon the world. In naturalistic fiction, there is a deterministic emphasis on the context of events and actions which arise from specific causes.

In addition to this, the focus is on the hereditary psychological makeup of character, and the relationship between human psychology and the external environment with a rejection of any spiritual perspective. Naturalistic fiction challenges reason and rejects all authority and certitude. Nevertheless, naturalistic fiction tries to redeem the moral function of literature; it anticipates that science will progress to a degree where humanity will be in control of life and nature, and, will be able to direct it towards a moral purpose.

Zola rejects the hypothesis that the naturalistic novel is somehow fatalistic by suggesting that the novelist’s genius is needed to arrange and rearrange the natural order of phenomena, by the hypothesis, concerning human behavior that he is aiming to test.   


Symbolism arose as a reaction to realism, naturalism, and Parnassians poetry which attempted to cultivate a precise and definitive language. Baudelaire is the founder of French symbolism. He believed in original sin and was repelled by the commercialization of the modern world. It was his expression of modern life as one of sordidness, sensuality, and corruption that influenced the modernist writers Eliot and Pound.

T.S Eliot
T.S Eliot

The symbolist movement was at its zenith in the 1890s before it declined and came to be viewed as a form of decadence and affectation. Its concerns were similar to those of the Romantics: language, poetic form, human subjectivity, and the evocation of mental states and ideal worlds. Like the Romantics, the symbolists were antagonistic towards urban life since it wasn’t free and was instead controlled by industry and commerce.

Drawing on Platonic philosophy, the symbolists viewed the material world as an imperfect reflection of a higher, eternal realm that could be evoked through symbols. It is for this reason that they rejected language as it was used by the realists and naturalists. For the latter language referenced a given reality. However, for the symbolists, the language was a means of viewing ‘reality’ or experience from one of many viable perspectives.

They viewed words, their arrangement on the physical page, and their sound as a means for creating meaning. Instead of using language descriptively like the realists and naturalists, the symbolists used language in a more suggestive and evocative manner to suggest states of consciousness and experience. They rejected all discursive use of language (in the forms of argument, debate, and narration), ideals of logical coherence, and referential accuracy in favor of creating “correspondences” between the senses to create an aesthetic of synesthesia. 

According to Symons, who introduced the British to symbolism through his book The Symbolist Movement in Literature (1899), the relationship between the sound and meaning assigned to words and symbols was arbitrary. Therefore, for symbolists, it was necessary to reject the certitude of reality as it was posited by the realists and naturalists; especially since this reality was predicated upon a language which they viewed, falsely as, stable, static, and status quo.

Symbolist literature, therefore, rejected the contemporary bourgeois world as a one-sided, reductive material dimension of reality and the reduction of language to a literariness which enshrines the possibility of absolute clarity. Thus symbolism was an attempt to reinvest language with its powers of ambivalence and mystery, to relieve it of the suffocating burden of representing fictitious identity and clear-cut categories. It is for this reason that symbolist poets experimented with various verse forms. 

Mallarme, a major symbolist critic, rejected the French alexandrine and tried to remove the distinction, which he viewed as artificial, between poetry and prose; and also between creative and critical writing. The symbolists also lead stress on the importance of the personality of the artist since all artistic creation was personal. The symbolists attempted to reclaim the arbitrariness of language that lay beneath its conventional usage.

While they rejected all attempts at lateralization by the bourgeois self, and all attempts at clarity as naive based as it was on a narrow understanding of reality; the symbolists attempted to create a more comprehensive view of reality which saw the here and the now as merely one dimension of reality. In general, the French symbolists, including Baudelaire and Mallarme, reacted against the explicit rationalism, materialism, and positivism of the bourgeois world and, like the Romantics, exalted the role of poet and artist.   


 Aestheticism was an extreme development of this idea of negation. The aesthetes adhered to the doctrine “art for art’s sake,” or for the sake of beauty and rejected all moral, political, and didactic reasons for the creation and consumption of art. Like the symbolists, the aesthetes also reacted against the bourgeois world of utility and consumption

Walter Pater
Walter Pater

Walter Pater is credited with coining the phrase “art for art’s sake” to suggest artistic autonomy as well as the fact that experience is in a constant state of flux. His work belongs to the decadent era which is marked by a withdrawal from social and political concerns, disillusionment with religion and its teachings of salvation, and a rejection of the mainstream bourgeois mechanized, commercial world in favor of exaltation of art and experience.

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Matthew Arnold

According to Arnold effective criticism succeeds in discerning the reality of the object in itself. Pater modifies this supposition by stating that since this act of knowing an object (be it a poem or a painting) involves the experiencing individual, it becomes an extremely subjective experience. Since experience is no longer absolute it ceases to be the sine qua non of knowledge. Since it is no longer governed by any essential reason and morality, it ceases to be the basis of any scientific inquiry.

The world then is not solid and external but comprises the subject’s impressions of it. Since the external world comprises of the subject’s impressions of it and these impressions are in a constant state of flux, therefore it follows that the experiencing subject court new opinions and expressions constantly. In this way, Pater’s aestheticism undermined the role of art as a unifying force.

Art became something to be experienced for itself and the idea of beauty. It is for this reason that mainstream Victorian writers, for whom art had a moral and civilizing influence, conflicted with the symbolists and the aesthetes. For these writers, if art did not possess any inherent ameliorative qualities then the artist became irrelevant.  

In his plays, Oscar Wilde satirized the morals and the mores of the middle-classes in England. He was a homosexual who was charged with sodomy by the marquis of Queensbury. His sexual tendencies, unsurprisingly, brought him in direct conflict with the social and moral mores of the times. His refusal to accept absolutes aligns him with the heterological thinkers of the time. He categorically rejected any moral foundation to art and went on to state in the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray, that the artist was a “creator of beautiful things.” He divorced art from life by suggesting that it did not imitate life; instead, it reflected the viewer. In other words, there is no inherent significance to art; signification is given to art in the act of viewing it. For Wilde, like the aesthetes, art was an object of beauty and nothing else. 

Oscar Wilde 
Oscar Wilde 

 For Wilde criticism was an important, creative, and independent action in itself. He saw the creation of art as more than a simple outpouring of emotion, it was a conscious and deliberate exercise directed by the critical faculties of the artist. He viewed criticism as the highest form of a personal impression since it was extremely self-referential. In other words, in his work Oscar Wilde breaks new ground by demanding, not only, like other symbolists and aesthetes, that art be free of any moral, religious, and moral constraints but also the fundamental autonomy of criticism as an act itself.

This is a new development in the relationship between art and criticism that is seen in the late 19th century whereby art becomes just an occasion for criticism and does not constitute it. In this way, Wilde anticipates the modern rejection of authorial intention and the intrinsically polysemous nature of works of art. According to him once a work of art is ‘completed’ it moves beyond the artist’s control. At this stage, it is the critic who sees multiplicities of meanings and significations in it. When it does so, criticism transcends art. However, Wilde is at pains to point out that while the critic may give an impression of a work of art, he does not always try to explain it.

Higher criticism occurs when the critic realizes the performative potential of art by bringing his personality to interpret the personality and work of the artist. This further implies that art is neither impersonal nor objective, but rather, extremely subjective. In other words, the role of art is simply to create a mood and it stands beyond the demands of practicality, utility, morality, and education. Just as art is beauty similar criticism is contemplation.

Wilde postulated that this contemplation was essential in the bourgeois world where life had become imprisoned in pragmatism, utility, and mechanization. Stubborn worship of art as beauty, therefore, represents a rebellion against the bourgeois strictures of reason. Criticism gains importance since in the bourgeois world it is only this activity that creates an intellectual atmosphere and the culture of the age. It is through criticism, and the resulting acceptance of multiplicities of experience and meaning, that it would be possible for individuals to escape the provincialism and prejudice of their times.   

Heterological thinkers 

 The “heterological” or alternate tradition of thinkers reacted against Hegel’s philosophy as the embodiment of bourgeois principles. Schopenhauer initiated this tradition which critiques Enlightenment notions of the scientific progress of civilization and the perfectibility of the individual and the state through reason. These thinkers emphasized the role of emotions, the body, sexuality, and pragmatic interests. These thinkers show affiliation with Arnold who was critical of the French Revolution and its effects.  

In his work Schopenhauer was critical of the bourgeois tendency to see the present as the only reality, He rejected the view that the intellect controlled human actions. Instead, he posited that it was a human will, motivated by the will to survive and perpetuate life that was the impetus for all actions. In his work, he accords sexuality as a central place as the driving motivating force. Sexuality aimed to ensure the survival of the species and achieve immortality. If sex signified the will to survive, death represented its opposite, especially in those who had engaged in a terrible struggle for existence. For them, death was a return to the womb of nature.

Moreover, for him, it was in the death of the individual that the species survived. Sex was a creative impulse precisely because it became a means of cheating death as a species, if not as an individual. Further, he suggested that the conscious mind was just the surface of the human mind. Hence its knowledge was limited and any decisions it took were predicated by a tussle between social mores it had absorbed and instinctive drives and desires. In this, his conception of the mind was very similar to Freud’s idea of the unconscious, as the receptacle of all contradictions and randomly placed events. A corollary of this is that while the experiencing self is an object in the world, it is also, simultaneously the subject observing the self’s interaction within this world. It was as the subject that the actions of the self-became the objectification of the human will.

Thus, for Schopenhauer, it was clear that it was the will governing the intellect and not vice versa. They will be desired to survive in the present that determined the actions of the intellect. For him, the will was the most profound source of motivation and the primordial means of our engagement with the world. From this, the philosopher postulated (and in this, he anticipated Freud again) that since the will influence the intellect and further action, motivations behind actions always remain unclear.

They lie in the unconscious where the will deliberately repress them to prevent any embarrassment and discomfort to the conscious mind. According to him, true knowledge lay in art since its object was not the material world but rather the underlying unity of the Platonic ideal. Therefore art was the only escape from the utilitarian and rational will. He gave importance to poetry and philosophy since they assisted the intellect in freeing itself from the constraints of the utilitarian and rational constraints of the subjective will. For him, reality lay in ideas that were timeless and were the essential form of the entire species.

According to him, the aesthetic pleasure was achieved when the self-conscious subject loses its sense of the will and sees the object not as an individual but as an idea. This aesthetic pleasure occurs only when there is a detached and disinterested contemplation of beauty. He acknowledged that poetry was a higher form than history since it went beyond the individual and contingent truths. Though the poet conveys abstract and general concepts, he does this through the use of concrete terms which represent them and he achieves this through imagination, rhythm, and rhyme. 

A central feature of the heterological thinkers is the idea that rational knowledge is insufficient in the perception of ideas and that poetry is the paradigm of disinterested and objective knowledge. The objectivity of the self in which industrialization had shattered is internalized as a subjective capacity. The aesthetic is defined as a form of perception of reality: poetry could no longer take for granted the reality it was to express. Nietzsche is associated with the announcement “the death of God.”

He saw the apparatus of the state and church a coercing people into mediocre conformity and uniformity and called for a new conception of humanity based on self-creation, passion, power, and subjugation of one’s circumstances. According to him reality was a construct and was nothing more than a mere projection of human needs and aspirations. Therefore multiple realities were possible. Also, he posited that independent objectivity was not possible since objects cannot exist without a subjective apparatus. He viewed knowledge as an assertion of will and therefore did not see it as a disinterested love of truth. Thus language constructs truth and does not disseminate any absolute truths.   


 The fundamental objection Marx had with capitalist economies was that very few people controlled the means of production and property. The laborers, in the capitalist economy, could survive only as long as they could work and earn their keep; thus they were commodification of labor in the capitalistic economy.

Another corollary of the capitalist economy was that it needed a constant supply not only of raw materials to feed the factories but also of markets where the finished products could be sold to maximize efficiency and profit. For both of these new sources of raw materials and markets were needed. These were provided by the colonies that were overrun by the European imperialistic powers in the late 19th century.

Thus, Marxism theorized that colonization is a natural outcome of industrialization and capitalism. Taking forward the Hegelian dialectic Marxists theorized that atheism and humanism are the third stages which can happen only in the practical world and cannot be theorized. Marx quoted religion and ownership of private property as expressions of the alienation of the individual.

Karl Marx
Karl Marx

According to Marx religion performs an apologetic function and puts the miseries the individual is experiencing in the here and the now as part of a larger, providential pattern. Thus suffering becomes something that cannot be changed and which may result in benefits beyond the material world. Marx viewed history not as the working of a divine spirit but rather as the product of human labor. For him, history was the unfolding of the impact of material and economic forces in terms of economic production.

Therefore, fundamentally, history was the site of a class struggle. The major conflict in the modern world, he projected, would be between the bourgeois and the proletariat. Marx also suggested that the division of labor was a clear indicator of the degree to which the system of production had developed in a civilization. It was this division of labor that led to a separation of the industrial workers from the agricultural work done by man.

This in turn created separate interests between towns and villages leading to conflicts. This social division of labor leads to an unequal division of labor and its products and hence private property. Since the division of labor creates diverse interests between the individual and the family or larger community; it gives the impression that the community, in the form of the larger ‘state’ gains legitimacy beyond the individual.

This larger community, i.e. the state comprises of different classes which then exploit each other for economic gain and power. Thus an alienation of social activity takes place. According to Marx, since the individual is alienated from his work because of the piecemeal nature of work in the modern economy; but this alienation from their work “forces” cooperation from them and develops independently of their will.

Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels

He also suggests that it is the values of the dominating class that prevail in society; the ruling class represents its values and interests as the values and interests of the people to continue its hegemony. Engels, in his work, traced the development of patriarchy and suggested that it rose through increasingly sophisticated economic and social configurations. He suggested that in tribal economies inheritance was through the female line; but as economies developed further and became complicated inheritance shifted to the males in the family.

The “overthrow of the mother right,” as he calls it in his book the origin of Family, Private Property and State, led to monogamy and father right. Thus marriage became dependent on property rights and economic considerations. In this situation, the man became the bourgeois and the woman the proletariat. Thus the exploitation of women, an intrinsic feature of capitalist economics, will also be abolished along with private property and the family as an economic unit.

Read Also: Marxist Literary Criticism: An Overview, Cultural Studies: Important cultual Key Terms

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1 comment on “Victorian Age : Symbolism, Naturalism and Aesthetism


    • July 26, 2020 at 11:02 pm


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