This sample of an academic paper on Religion In The Victorian Era reveals arguments and important aspects of this topic. Read this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion below.
Religion of the Victorian Era: Faith in Crisis “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness … it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. ”(Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities) The Victorians had a society comparable to ours with an explosion of ideas and innovation.
Today our American society is famous for being a “melting pot. ” Each individual has a different background where they create ideas completely different from another’s.One most likely pictures a melting pot as a fusion of ideas mixing together. One may also see the conflicts our society’s opposing ideas have created and see confusion rather than fusion. The term Victorian literally describes events in the reign of Queen Victoria during the years 1837-1901.
The qualities of the queen herself help describe the values of the peoples of the time such as earnestness, moral responsibility, and domestic propriety(Christ, and Robson 980).The quality of moral responsibility had an enormous impact creating a great deal of controversy in this society. There became a religious battle; A challenge fought between the religious groups, the philosophers, the scientists, and every person with any opinion. England’s prosperity through new technology led to an expansion of influence around the world.
Its annual export of goods sky rocketed in value between 1850 and 1870 and people began to invest. This investment of people, money, and technology created the British Empire(Christ, and Robson 985).Many English people viewed this expansion as a moral responsibility. Rudyard Kipling called this the “White Man’s burden. ” Queen Victoria said that the goal was “to protect the poor natives and advance civilization” (Christ, and Robson 985). The social relevance began to increase during the first century of industrialization. The sequence of events caused missionary societies to flourish and Christianity began to reach India, Asia, and Africa(Obelkevich 311). While the British missionary societies were expanding, religious debate arose.By the mid-Victorian period the Church of England had transformed into three main divisions: Evangelical, Broad Church, and High Church (Christ, and Robson 984). James Obelkevich wrote, “The Victorian age was self-consciously religious. Britain’s greatness, Victorians believed – its prosperity, social stability, political liberties, and Empire – was rooted in Christian (and Protestant) faith. Yet if religion flourished, it did not bring harmony or good feeling”(328).Biblical disagreement spread with the introduction of new scientific advancements, along with philosophical, social, and religious ideas. The church went from unified to a state of pluralism which began the controversy with “Protestant against Catholic, Anglican against Dissenter, Evangelical against high churchman, Christian against unbeliever” (Obelkevich, 328-329). The changes in the church may have been the start of the problem but the changes in society fueled the fire and allowed it to rage. The growth of industry made towns larger and widened the gap between classes.In 1830 the Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened. This was the first steam-powered, public railway line in the world. Railway construction exploded and the train changed England’s landscape, brought cities closer together, and allowed commerce growth. The economic growth brought parliament reform (Christ, and Robson 982). Astronomers became able to gain knowledge of stellar distances which was also frightening to people who never pictured a universe so vast. Anxiety from new scientific theories such as Charles Darwin’s evolution out broke.This not only went against the Christian God creating the world in seven days but also stole man’s role in the world and purpose felt lost for many. John Fowles writes in the novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman, “By the 1860s the great iron structures of their philosophies, religions, and social stratifications were already beginning to look dangerously corroded to the more perspicacious” (Christ, and Robson, 987). This quote gives a great illustration of the feelings coming over the Victorian British society at the time.Their faith was being rocked by humans’ new ability to accomplish more things allowing some to feel stronger and no longer needing God. Science and new philosophical ideas shook everything they based their lives on. The literary community displayed their thoughts of the new industrious society and the ideas of science and philosophy through their works. Alfred Tennyson, Matthew Arnold, and Robert Browning express their viewpoints through poetry. Alfred Lord Tennyson’s In memoriam AHH expresses the change of the seasons and the celebration of Christian feasts starting with despair and growing with hope.Tennyson was moved to write this long religious poem because of the death in 1833 of his friend Arthur Hallam. The poem opens with the words “Strong Son of God, immortal Love,/ Whom we, that have not seen thy face,/ By faith alone, embrace,/Believing where we cannot prove;” (1-4)(Sanders, 140). This displays his feeling of God well. Although there is much going on in this time period, with scientific discoveries, humans growing stronger with their capabilities, along with the tragic death of his close friend Tennyson holds tight to his faith.Matthew Arnold spoke a different theme through his poetry; It was the questioning if the life in a modern industrial society had the capability to be full and enjoyable (Christ, and Robson 1350). Robert Browning came along later than Tennyson and Arnold but was seen as a mediator between the two poets to one group of readers. This group saw him as a great philosopher and religious teacher that dissolved the doubts. There was a second group of readers that appreciated him for his writing rather than the content (Christ, and Robson 1248).In An Epistle Containing the Strange Medical Experience of Karshish, the Arab Physician, he announces his belief in creation with the lines, “Karshish, the picker-up of learning’s crumbs,/ The not-incurious in God’s handiwork/ (This man’s-flesh he hath admirably made,/ Blown like a bubble, kneaded like a paste,/ To coop up and keep down on earth a space/ That puff of vapor from his mouth, man’s soul)”(1-6). This is interesting because many intellectuals were changing their views to evolution in this time.Browning, Arnold, and Tennyson were all poets unafraid to use their work to speak their minds. Each displaying their attitudes in different ways about the new changes and God. During the Victorian Era there is no doubt the faith of religious people was threatened by great change. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and the industrial revolution challenged religion and questioned everything which held it together. Through studying the events in history and analyzing the way people would feel in such a time one can attempt to take a side.Our life experiences would affect this decision, of course, and our society’s ideas are much different than the people in the Victorian era also. We have become more open minded, in my opinion, allowing the fusion of our ideas to take place easier. The Victorians had a trouble with fusion; The perfect word to describe the era: confusion. Works Cited: Christ, Carol T. , and Catherine Robson. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Eighth Edition. E. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company Inc. , 2006. 979-1825.Print. Obelkevich, James. “Religion. ” Social Agencies and Institutions. Ed. F. M. L. Thompson. Cambridge University Press, 1990. Cambridge Histories Online. Cambridge University Press. 24 July 2011 DOI:10. 1017/CHOL9780521257909. 007 Sanders, Andrew. “Christianity and literature in English. ” World Christianities c. 1815–c. 1914. Eds. Sheridan Gilley and Brian Stanley. Cambridge University Press, 2006. Cambridge Histories Online. Cambridge University Press. 24 July 2011 DOI:10. 1017/CHOL9780521814560. 010