Uploaded by David Kazakov

18th century

Importance of novel as a genre for new social class.
Novel as a genre was one of the most common genres of the period of 18th century. It was the
sign of new period in the history, period of enlightment.It is possible to say that development
of novel as a genre started in the beginning of 18th century. Moreover, we can state that for
society of this period it was breath of fresh air,was somethin new for communityof the period.
But it should be emphasized that novel as genre didn’t occure instantly. There were gradual
steps before significant novels such as Daniel Defoe’s “The Life and Strange Surprizing
Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York”, Samuel Taylor Coloridge’s “Virtue Reworded or
Pamela”, “Joseph Andrews” by Henry Fielding. Sociopolitical circumstances of the 18th
century also had great contribution in appearing novel as genre. The following examples
referse to political, socioal background of the period, which can be reason for coming out and
establishing novel as a genre.
By the beginning of 18th century England already have suffered from the bourgeois
revolution of the 1642-1651 which is also called “English Civil War”, trial of the King
Charles I, who was beheaded in 1649, from the regime of the burgeois military dictatorship of
Oliver Cromwell, who declared himself as “Protector of England”, the restoration of the
Stuart monarchy and “Glorious revolution” of 1688-1689, which is also acalled “blodless
revolution”, after which the catholic king James II overthrown and replaced by her protestant
daughter Mary and her dutch husband William of Orange. Thus, for historical reasons,
England was at the forefront of european enlightment. Conventionally, the beginnig of the
English Enlightment is usually dated to the year of the “Glorious revolution”. From these
years we see changes in every aspects of country.
At the end of 17th century England still was an agrarian country,which means approxomitely
four-fifth of population of country engaged in agriculture. By the beginnig of the 19th century
England already turned into a industrial country,which population mostly engaged with trade,
production and etc.All these changes took place throughout the 18th century, in the beginnig
of decade more imperceptibly, gut from 60’s more rapidly.After England, industrial
revolution occured in other countries, however, in England it took the most striking, classical
forms rather than in other countries of europe.The most important prerequiste for the
industrialization were revolutions that face the country, which removed the obstacles to the
growth of capitalist relations and opened the way for powerful development of the country’s
productives forces.Also it worth mentioning that England as an empire had a colonies which
had a great contribution to the economy of country.Also, it worth mentioning that England as
an empire had a colonies which had great contribution to the economy of the country.
England became an empire where sun never sat. In the middle of the 18 th century the
importance of the colonies for English capitalism or economy was growing expeditiously. The
importance of colonies increased due to the fact that colonies became a suppliers of some
important products such as sugar, tobacco, etc. which weren’t in Europe. Resaling of these
products in European markets gave to English economy huge profits.
All the changes that took place in terms of economy, politics also had a reflection in social
aspect of life of 18th century. As we mentioned before in 18th century Britain gradually was
becoming a country of cities and large worker’s town. Nearly half of population settled in
cities and were somehow related to industrial production or trade. As the result of events such
as colonization, industrialization and trade on to the stage of social classes appears new
character- member of middle class. The emergence of middle class or in other words
industrial proletariat is the most important social consequence of the 18 th century and all
following centuries of history. It was the class that destined to play the greatest role in the
history of the humankind, to became the head of all exploited people and to free humanity
from all oppressions. As we know from history, till 17 th and 18th century sociologists
generally posit 2 classes: Upper class-Aristocracy, courtier in other words people who attend
a royal court as a companion or an adviser to the king or queen and Lower class-people from
poor families, form family without royal title. But with the changes in every aspects of life ,
specially with increasing importance of trade, lower class turns into middle class. Throughout
the century people who were slaves for aristocracy, became more rich even from than their
masters. But how common the novel and middle class?
If we have look to history of English literature we might notice that the major genres of
literary works till 17th-18th century were poetry and drama and mainly most of these works
written in high or elaborated language. Thus, we can state that genres like drama and poetry
were written for educated part of society. Therefore, poetry and drama belonged to
aristocracy, people of upper class. In another hand novel as a new genre. Novel as a literary
work was more simple in terms of language, was understandable for everybody, was written
for all parts of social classes, but it doesn’t mean that it didn’t consist literary devices that
decorate literary work. If we analyze in terms of characteristics the novels of 18 th century we
can notice that novel by it’s every aspect was close to the new class of society-middle class.
Beginning with the theme, if we analyze the poetry of previous periods, for example medieval
poetry, we can notice that themes such as heroism, supernaturality, chivalry are more
associated with aristocracy rather than middle class. But in contrast the main themes of novels
such as love, difficulties of life, class distinction relies on realism which is more common
with middle class. In terms of characters novels are also proves that as a genre it belongs to
middle class. For example: Main characters of novels generally were also people lower
classes. Novels of 18th century commonly tells a stories of people of middle class, about their
struggling against difficulties. The novels of 18th century were guidebooks, advisers for their
readers. For example: the novel of Daniel Defoe “The Life and Strange Surprizing
Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York” taught the readers that they should work hard to
make our lives better, to be grateful, to have faith in god and etc.
18th century was not only full of historical, political events, but also, it was rich for changes
in field of literature. As there were developments in social classes,also it possible to say that
the main genre of literature also has changed. To sum up all things that mentioned , we can
state that the events of late 17th and 18th century had a reflection in literary genres, as
emergence and importance of novel as a new genre for new social class of society.