19th Century Literature

19th Century Literature

Summative (6#)


This unit has been personally hard, due to it’s subject matter. I personally have an almost devout interest in Workers rights and studies of class equality, and have often found myself drawn to interpreting my texts as a social battle cry. This unit was no different, in terms of what I tried looking for.

However, due to in class discussions and lectures it challenged me to look beyond the critical and towards more then the Industrial Revolution and the social issues that arise in history and literature. I hope that my blog posts depict this.

My initial hesitation came from the idealised mindset of the Romantics and our look into their prioritisation of thought and free will, and yet I found their lack of action frustrating. As their critical look at their society was progressive and yet I didn’t feel that their literature was enough to change the status quo of their society. However, I was wrong as through studying Wordsworth’s poetry we looked at a Call and Response poem in which Wordsworth was being critiqued for his inaction just as I was, and I found his response confronting as he reinforced that without thought, change couldn’t occur and that I was thinking purely from hindsight rather then analysing these poets as products of their context. I then discovered that they were the pioneer’s of child autonomy which reaffirmed that I judged them too harshly at first.

My second challenge came from interpreting Wuthering Heights as I found through the perspective on Nelly the text was overall skewed and I found it hard to interpret the perspective and bias Bronte was conveying. As due to Bronte not acting as an overt guiding figure like many other authors I was left thinking: “Should we condemn the lovers who go against the normal views of love?” or “See the lovers as trailblazers and pioneers through other expressions of love, naive and idealised?”

I concluded that the book can be seen as Bronte’s own inner exploration, as she explored throughout passionate and destructive love, and the consequences of some versions of ‘growth and change’ which I attributed to Bronte’s context being that of the Romantics, and their priority of change as a means to challenge status quo.

I also found it hard to decipher overall, as it challenged itself through Nelly and the romantic intensity of the characters.

When we began our study of Hard Times however, I felt in my wheelhouse as the book seemed to call my workers rights ways and mimic my distaste for the class inequality that was perpetuated by the Industrial Revolution. Although Dickens and I had different motivations for coming to that conclusion.

His being that of conservatism and conservation of nature, and mine being interpreting the Industrial Revolution as the catalyst for the workforce violations we see today. Despite these, I found that I could read against the grain a little in ‘Hard Times’ to support my own views, which I know is definitely reflected in my Charles Dickens blog posts.

I think my blog posts reflect my journey within this unit and my own personal evaluation of these texts.


19th Century Literature

19th Century Literature

Karina was more then just pitiful (#5)

Describe Tolstoy in intimate detail as he appears on the front cover of our text or in any of the images of him you have seen. Describe his clothes, his environment, the way he is holding his hands and especially the look on his face… and maybe one or two of his thoughts!


This specific image of Tolstoy, draws me in as the most Tolstoy image. I personally believe it replicates the man I envision perfectly.

Tolstoy has always been depicted with his long grey and yet iconic beard, messily sitting, however never unclean. His brow depicted furrowed as if he is carrying the weight of the world. Memorable as he probably felt as though he was, being iconic and relevant even in his time.

The dark background emphasises him being lit next to the backdrop of ambiguity, as if to portray a scholar alone in their pursuits. His desk cluttered the same way he described his mind being. His posture oozing his mission to portray the essence of living and the mind to the best of his ability.

The dark background also sinks into the desk through the use of browns, drawing our attention to the formal structure and bars surrounding Tolstoy. This can hint to Tolstoy’s personally rigid opinion on class while also reinforcing Tolstoy being imprisoned by his own work.

Although perhaps a reach, the masculine atmosphere acts as a reminder to Tolstoy’s personal life and his overpowering perception of women’s roles and his own personal portrayal of them.

Most depictions of Tolstoy show his hands either bound together, or clasped.. This portrait however, depicts him writing – as if alluding to his purpose and depicting him where he is seemingly the most comfortable. This is also reinforced by the use of vector lines within the frame, to bring our attention repetitively to the paper he is writing.

This portrait overall acts as an accurate depiction of not only Tolstoy’s own appearance but also how he is perceived and perceived himself. As not just an author but a pioneer of social and moral thought.

Being only a tool to educate the masses.



Peer Review

Peer Review

Sandy Yaacoub (#4)


Dear Sandy,

I found your take on Wuthering Heights refreshing, as your honest reflection on your struggles when reading Wuthering Heights were very similar to my own, even your response to Bronte.

I also found it challenging to tackle the language and track the characters, although I personally blamed Bronte’s lack of clear direction. (maybe a little too harsh)

However, your post also gave me the motivation I needed to go through the eNotes to help with my personal understanding of the novel, and hopefully have the same outcome you did.

Thank you,


19th Century Literature

19th Century Literature

Fact met Fiction (#4)

Take an passage from Hard Times (a paragraph long) and explain why and how this paragraph is important to the key themes of the novel

Through careful consideration about how I could combine my own personal interpretation to Charles Dickens “Hard Times” and still depict the themes as required by the question: I chose a paragraph that doesn’t necessarily embody usual studies, as I hope to focus less on class and family and more on Dickens himself.


“Thank Heaven!” exclaimed his father ‘He may be got abroad yet.’ 

It was the more hopeful as the town to which Sissy had directed him was within three hours’ journey of Liverpool, whence he could be swiftly dispatched to any part of the world. But, caution being necessary in communicating with him – for there was a greater danger every moment of his being suspected now, and nobody could be sure at heart but that of Mr Bounderby himself, in a bullying vein of public zeal, might play a Roman part.


This passage specifically acts as a mediator to the conflict and the family dynamic itself. As we see the family rushing to attempt to help their guilty brother. Despite previous mentions of family values and overall attempt to prioritise facts. The family is hoping to hide the brothers guilt and get him out of the country to avoid prosecution for the robbery.

Aside from obvious juxtaposition of the families ideals vs their expression of family values, the Reader is also shown that despite initial portrayals of them being cold and distant towards each other they are also willing to allow someone else to take the blame for the crime. Showing Dickens own personal view on absolute enlightenment thought, that complete reliance on facts can be damaging to family love and a healthy family unit.

This personal attempt to allude to a balance of faith and fact is further reinforced as Dickens consistently alludes to religion in this passage.

Firstly, Dickens emphasises the fragility of using facts as the cornerstone to your personality through “Thank Heavens!” he reveals Mr Gradgrind falling back on faith in times of struggle. Using biblical allusion to discredit his cold and fact forward expression of self. Introducing us to Dickens own personal bias and faith. This critique on the Gradgrind’s and how they have conducted themselves is furthered through the allusion to the betrayal of Jesus, and his crucifixion at the hands of the Romans, in “Mr Bounderby himself, in a bullying vein of public zeal, might play a Roman part” using biblical allusion to further reinforce that Mr Boundary was ‘set up’ by Tom and his family.

This then presents us to Dickens interpretation of class inequality and his personal view inspired by the class inequality during the industrial revolution. As through mention of Mr Boundrby we the readers, are reminded through personification of the media in “bullying vein of public zeal” that Mr Bounderby was innocent and unable to save himself like Tom and his family are saving him, due to his class and lack of resources.

Although it is not the most iconic passage within Hard Times, I personally liked how it brought closure to Dickens own interpretation of the Gradgrind’s and a fact prioritising life.

Peer Review

Peer Review

Veronica Cash (#3)


I was first seduced by how clever your little quips are here and there, I love the personal element it adds to your critical evaluations overall. I specifically loved the “Liver Detox for you’re feelings” that triggered a worthy giggle.

I also feel that you truly captured Wordsworth through you’re explanation of daffodils and recreating the connotations behind the term ‘solitude’. (Hopefully I interpreted you correctly)

Basically your understanding of the Romantics and Wordsworth combined with your expression of your personality through blog design and analysis, are really clever and fun to read!

Thank you!

Peer Review

Peer Review

Zehra Olgun (#2)

Zehra Olgun –  https://zehraolgun.home.blog

“My adventurous boy”

Hey Zehra,

Firstly, I love how personal and calming your poem is to read. As it made me feel calm when reading & re-reading it. I personally found it ridiculously immersive (in a good way.) I also like that even if it wasn’t intentional. It’s relatable and adaptable to the readers, as it immerses them into the situation you are describing. Which is impressive to be honest.

Good job!


19th Century Literature

19th Century Literature

Hard Knocks Life (#3)

Find and out and write a report on the extent to which Dickens’s writing actually had a definite impact on the laws that regulated working conditions in England in the 19th Century.

Charles Dickens ‘Hard Times’ really cements the reality of early Industrialisation, credited for following the popular critique of Industrialisation to a ‘T’.

His themes mimicking historic criticisms such as the ‘key traits of the Industrial Revolution’ introduced by Robert Blatchford, in 1894;

  1. Those who are participating in the Industrial Revolution are still badly fed, clothes etc – despite the promise the industrial revolution had ‘the working man’ in mind.
  2. Still preventable deaths due to in access to health care.
  3. Lack of employment.
  4. Those who are working the ‘hardest’ are paid the least and are living in the worst conditions.
  5. Despite the Industrial Revolutions over production of many things: coal, cotton etc. People are still lacking in basic things; bread, fuel and clothing.
  6. Property laws only benefit those who are rich.

Dickens exposes these key aspects of the Industrial Revolution, through his own personal exploration of social change allowing his opinions against this societal priority of modernity lead the way for the narrative.

His mediation of the two interpretations of the Industrial Revolution being used through language and characterisation, rich vs poor, those benefitting from the system and those who are not. Although, that is not all Hard Times is about – when viewing the similarities between Coketown, the corruption eventually seen in a union spokesperson and the realities for the working class during the Industrial Revolution – it cannot be denied.

This specific use of imagery to corrupt the spokesperson who is meant to be a representative of the working class and ensure they are not facing abuses of power. Reinforced Dickens own interpretation of the Industrial prioritisation of production, efficiency and quantity over protections of workers. Dickens assumption of the Industrial elite has been reinforced by history.

Once again the lack of protection, Stephen has as a ‘hand’ and how easy it was for Tom to frame him reminds us again of the lack of workers rights and lack of encouragment to defend yourself against a system that was stacked against you – that was very prevalent during the Industrial Revolution and the years that followed.

Not to mention that Dickens ignored the controversy of ‘child workers’, in his novel and it still maintained a sordid affair similar to the working class reality.

19th Century Literature

19th Century Literature

A Critically Acclaimed Dear Diary (#2)

1/ What obstacles did you face in trying to read Wuthering Heights and how did today’s tutorial help you to work a way around some of those obstacles? What are your plans for taking action on the obstacles that you face(d)?

Although Wuthering heights is teeming with themes very similar to the ideas followed by the Romantics. The text itself can be a challenge road to read, even if you set aside Google on hand for any nuonced words that feel like their mocking you, when you find the definition is pretty self explanatory.

One of the great things about Wuthering Heights is the lack of overt bias Bronte expresses within the text, her ability to be a literary guiding figure as the author doesn’t seem to be a huge contributor to how people receive the text. I chalk this up to the reason the novel has a divisive response in regards to characters, themes and morals. The author reads as conflicted and undecided…

Should we condemn the lovers who go against the the normal views of love? or should we rally behind their non-conforming expression of love? What does Bronte want from us? – the critique coming from Nelly? or the empathy coming from Catherine?

This confronting way of articulating the story and the themes of Bronte’s time are also what made it challenging for me, personally. The push and pull feel of the book had me on my own inner turmoil. Despite being well aware that it was probably just an overt expose of Bronte’s own exploration. However, the lack of clear idea as to whether the novel was congratulating the lovers or criticising their lack of change made it hard to follow the narrative.

The lack of clear guidance from Bronte paired with the nagging voice of Nelly felt almost meta, in the way the book challenged and took on itself and its own portrayal of these clear Romantic themes. Which made it again, hard to follow – It was hard to not feel like I was reading the thoughts of someone undecided and overtly self critical.

Eventually, I had to come to the decision that all the characters would do wonders in therapy or perhaps with some TedXTalks on communication.


Peer Review

Peer Review

James Sacco (#1)

Dear James,

Firstly, I am a big fan of the quote you have chosen for this blog & (whether international or not) how surprisingly eerie & important it looks when placed next to that landscape, honestly big fan.

In terms of your poem, I firstly liked the use of the picture to preface your poem, with an introduction through the classic picture of a train platform. It is successfully foreshadowing the exact feeling of the following poem, which personally was very engaging as it alluded immediately to the hustle & bustle of Sydney life.

The sly political message, about financial security while living and moving around in Sydney, was also immediately attention-grabbing and affirming as it was relatable and ideal in capturing city life at the moment.

Overall your poem took me to the busy side of Sydney on trains and the memories I had of blank faces on the train clearly in need of their coffee. It was an original take on the original Blake as although he also critiqued those living amongst the life he set himself apart. You, however, were a character in your poem which I preferred.

Thank you for the great read. Sam

19th Century Literature

19th Century Literature

God Save the Subjective (#1)

1/ Can you say briefly what was the most important idea(s) that came from this morning’s lecture or tutorial? Can you also say why it was important to you?

Throughout the tutorial mentioned, we delved through readings & poets alike hoping to capture the dreams of the ‘Romantics’. Posing questions via their remains such as: what made their poetry starkly contrast that of their counterparts from the ‘Enlightenment’ period & where they believed their society was lacking.

The key ideas that furthered this crew of idealists are many that we see today, although most of us feel them less intensely, and hopefully, are less enamoured with children.

Despite my throwaway line, the Romantics and their obsession with the portrayal of innocence was a vital idea in my personal opinion. It began the recognition of children as a separate entity, leading the way for child laws & the mentality that children & their innocence should be protected (especially if their family are the ones refusing to maintain this).

I feel as though I, and the Romantics, such as Wordsworth and Blake, would not get along. Their approach to reality although pivotal for history and fantastic to study being subjective and lacking of affirmative action. This, despite their progressive ideas, challenge me personally.

It was very much the movement of Ideas.

Therefore, Romanticism’s recognition of Indigenous people’s worldwide can be seen as a catalyst for attempts today of global recognition of Indigenous people’s claim to land, rights and retribution for past colonial atrocities.


I once watched a documentary saying that we nowadays are all Romantics, due to the impact the ideas had on our current views on nature, innocence, the middle class, education, desire, imagination and my personal favourite – morality.

As much as I would like to, my drive to help ‘better’ society & my willingness to die for the working class*, I can’t fault the documentary’s logic.


*note: use of hyperbole: I promise I do not have a personal death wish.