19th Century English Literature: An Introduction
2010 002 067
Alex Hong (Hong, Hyun Il)
“Good opinion once lost, is lost forever.” This is a quote, written by Jane Austen, one of the most revered writers not just in nineteenth century English literature, but in all ages after her time. As you can tell from the quote, the grammar is highly artistic and romantic, showing that most works in this era were based on romanticism. This was mostly due to the atmosphere of the violent economic and political turmoil that marked the last decades of the eighteenth, and the first decades of the nineteenth century. True to the fact, many romance novels found their origin during this era, and most of them, books like The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, are still read and studied to this day. Writers in this period would find a way to express the Victorian era’s problems and realities through use of very imaginative and artistic sentences.
One such problem during this era, was the rights of women. A woman was not treated as a figure of authority or as somebody that could make a living. They usually had only three choices : get married, become a governess, or join the nunnery, the latter two naturally giving a staggering critical blow of disgrace to the family’s name. Jane Austen was one such woman who chose writing as a means of earning a living, and she phrased the era’s problems as she saw it into one sentence, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” This phrase, counted as one of the most famous starting lines in the history of English literature, is also filled with verbal irony, for the advantages of getting socially married in the nineteenth century manifests itself here. The phrase reflects on the era’s social status, and the irony shows the reality that it was many women who, in fact, would flock around a single man with a good fortune. It...