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ENGL410: The Victorian Novel

Unit 4: The British Empire and the Victorian Novel   It was once said that the “sun never set” on the British Empire; this phrase (which has been attributed to several persons) appeared in 1821 in a British newspaper, the Caledonian Mercury. It meant that the territorial expansion of the 18th and 19th century gave the United Kingdom extensive land holdings around the world (notably in India). But though this empire was powerful, it was also under threat. The optimism of the early 19th century fades into a fear of collapse, decay and invasion at the end of the Victorian period. These themes necessarily capture the British imagination, and it is important to note that the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire was also published during this time (you will have noted a reference to it in Bleak House; it is read to the Boffins by Silas Wegg!) In this unit, we will examine the theme of empire and its representation in novels of the period.

Guiding Questions:

  • How did colonial expansion influence trade routes? Did it increase wealth? For whom? Who benefits and who suffers?
  • As the empire became threatened, what did the Victorians fear would happen? How did these fears influence policy – and how were they represented in fiction?
  • In what ways are Gothic novels used to address the problems of empire and of decline?

Unit 4 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 36 hours.

☐    Subunit 4.1: 4 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2: 32 hours

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- define and describe the characteristics of empire, imperialism and expansionism; - describe the impact of the East India Company on trade and colonization; - discuss Victorian policy towards the Indian empire and feelings of ambivalence toward colonies;     - describe “New Imperialism” and the concept of “empire for empire's sake”; - discuss the decline of empire and industrialization, particularly the Victorian fear of “loss of empire”; and - identify the key characteristics of the Gothic novel and its relationship to fear of decline, degeneration, and invasion.   

4.1 Expansion of the British Empire   4.1.1 Empire and Imperialism, an Introduction   - Reading: The Victorian Web: Dr. David Cody’s “British Empire: An Introduction” Link: The Victorian Web: Dr. David Cody’s “British Empire: An Introduction” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read Dr. Cody’s introduction to British Empire.  

 Reading this text and taking notes should take you 5 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Permission has been granted by [The Victorian
Web](http://www.victorianweb.org) for any scholarly or educational
purpose. The original versions of these articles can be found
[here](http://www.victorianweb.org/history/empire/Empire.html).
  • Reading: The Victorian Web: Lara J. Barton’s “Why did the British Empire expand so rapidly between 1870 and 1900” Link: The Victorian Web: Lara J. Barton’s “Why did the British Empire expand so rapidly between 1870 and 1900” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this short essay.

    Reading this text and taking notes should take you 10 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Permission has been granted by The Victorian Web for any scholarly or educational purpose. The original versions of these articles can be found here.

4.1.2 Expansion and Trade   - Reading: The Victorian Web: Dr. Derek B. Scott’s “Nationalism and Imperialism” Link: The Victorian Web: Dr. Derek B. Scott’s “Nationalism and Imperialism” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read the article. Consider how this rapid expansion
also generated the fear of its loss.  

 Reading this text and taking notes should take you 25 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Permission has been granted by [The Victorian
Web](http://www.victorianweb.org) for any scholarly or educational
purpose. The original versions of these articles can be found
[here](http://www.victorianweb.org/mt/dbscott/8.html#imperialism).
  • Reading: The Victorian Web: George B. Landow’s “Ambivalence, Economy, and Empire in Victorian Britain” Link: The Victorian Web: George B. Landow’s “Ambivalence, Economy, and Empire in Victorian Britain” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this short introduction and consider the problems of “land-grab” without planning or consideration of culture.

    Reading this text and taking notes should take you 10 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Permission has been granted by The Victorian Web for any scholarly or educational purpose. The original versions of these articles can be found here.

  • Reading: The Victorian Web: George P. Landow’s “The British East India Company – the Company that Owned a Nation (or Two)” Link: The Victorian Web: George P. Landow’s “The British East India Company – the Company that Owned a Nation (or Two)” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this introduction to the East India Trading Company; notice the way trade and empire building go hand in hand.

    Reading this text and taking notes should take you 10 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Permission to host material has been granted by The Victorian Web for any scholarly or educational purpose. The original versions of the article can be found here.

4.1.3 Case Study in the Victorian Novel 5: The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle   - Reading: The Project Gutenberg: “The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle” Link: The Project Gutenberg: The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read the novella (short novel). Pay special attention
to how various aspects of trade and empire are treated as
potentially lucrative, and as a threat.  

 Reading this text and taking notes should take you 3 hours.  

 Terms of Use: The article above is in the Public Domain.

4.2 Growing Fears: Loss of Empire   4.2.1 The Empire in India   - Reading: The Victorian Web: Desmond Tuah’s “Timeline of British India” Link: The Victorian Web: Desmond Tuah’s “Timeline of British India” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this timeline to familiarize yourself with key
dates.  

 Reading this text and taking notes should take you 5 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Permission to host material has been granted by [The
Victorian Web](http://www.victorianweb.org) for any scholarly or
educational purpose. The original versions of the article can be
found
[here](http://www.victorianweb.org/history/empire/india/timeline.html).
  • Reading: The Victorian Web: “Our Indian Empire” Link: The Victorian Web: “Our Indian Empire” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this excerpt from a British newspaper about the empire and control of India. Stop at “This Institution was reflected.”

    Reading this text and taking notes should take you 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Permission to host material has been granted by The Victorian Web for any scholarly or educational purpose. The original versions of the article can be found here.

4.2.2 Troubled Imperialism and Fears of Decay   - Reading: New World Encyclopedia: “Britain and the New Imperialism” Link: New World Encyclopedia: “Britain and the New Imperialism” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this section and the subsection on colonial
policy.  

 Reading this text and taking notes should take you 5 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Permission to host material has been granted by [The
Victorian Web](http://www.victorianweb.org) for any scholarly or
educational purpose. The original versions of the article can be
found
[here](http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/British_Empire#Britain_and_the_New_Imperialism).
  • Reading: New World Encyclopedia: “The end of British rule in Ireland” and “Decolonization and decline” Link: New World Encyclopedia: “The end of British rule in Ireland” (HTML) and “Decolonization and decline” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read these two sections to the end. Note how the empire does not fall until after the World War; despite this, there was a great fear of loss was during this time.

    Reading this text and taking notes should take you 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Permission to host material has been granted by The Victorian Web for any scholarly or educational purpose. The original versions of these articles can be found here and here.

  • Reading: The Victorian Web: “The Industrial Revolution and the Failure of Great Britain” Link: The Victorian Web: “The Industrial Revolution and the Failure of Great Britain” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this short description of how the industrial revolution related to decline in the British Empire.

    Reading this text and taking notes should take you 10 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Permission to host material has been granted by The Victorian Web for any scholarly or educational purpose. The original version of the article can be found here.

4.2.3 Case Study in the Victorian Novel 6: Dracula by Bram Stoker   - Reading: The Project Gutenberg: “Dracula by Bram Stoker” Link: The Project Gutenberg: Dracula by Bram Stoker” (HTML)

 Instructions: This work serves as a useful closer to this unit, as
it represents the fear of invasion and loss of empire – as well as
concerns related to science and to Darwinism (appearing in our next
unit). You will also read two pieces of preparatory material with
this novel.  

 Reading this text and taking notes should take you 30 hours.  

 Terms of Use: The article above is in the Public Domain.
  • Reading: Great Writers Inspire: Charlotte Barrett’s “Introduction to the Victorian Gothic” Link: Great Writers Inspire: Charlotte Barrett’s “Introduction to the Victorian Gothic” (HTML)

    Reading this text and taking notes should take you 10 minutes.

    Terms of Use: The article above is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 License. It is attributed to Charlotte Barrett.

  • Reading: The Victorian Web: Stuart Currie’s “George Whyte-Melville, Vampirism, and the Crimean War” Link: The Victorian Web: Stuart Currie’s “George Whyte-Melville, Vampirism, and the Crimean War” (HTML)

    Reading this text and taking notes should take you 10 minutes.

    Instructions: Read the two introductory pieces before you read the novel. Then, read Stoker’s Dracula, paying close attention to the way fears of invasion (from another nation and also from another species) influence the text. Note, too, that there are particularly gender specific themes in the text, and that labor and women’s workalso plays a part. Finally, note that science and industry, urbanism and psychology. We will be talking about these matters in the Unit 5. *You may also choose to listen to the novel; it is available as an audio book feature in the novel.

    Terms of Use: Permission to host material has been granted by The Victorian Web for any scholarly or educational purpose.

  • Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “ENGL 410 Subunit 4.2.3 Discussion Forum” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “ENGL 410 Subunit 4.2.3 Discussion Forum”

    Instructions: Spend a few minutes reflecting on Dracula. How does the vampire represent a threat to the Victorian concept of empire? In what other ways is the vampire a particularly virulent threat? Then, share your thoughts on the discussion forum by clicking the link above and creating a (free) account, if you have not already done so. Read responses that other students may have left and leave any comments you have on their feedback as well.

    Posting and responding to comments should take approximately 1 hour.