By Julia Prewitt Brown
1985 Macmillan Publishing; Hardcover w/Dust Jacket (Sealed in Brodart)
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Additional info for Readers Guide to the Nineteenth-Century English Novel
Several of Jane Austen's characters make the traditional visit to the poor bringing food, while the wife of a clergyman in Middlemarch draws up plans for new tenant cottages. The rise in philanthropic attitudes and organizations was an important factor in reducing the power of the Church as the central agent of Christian charity. Each parish has one or more living (or house and land connected to the church), which the patron or advowson of the area bestows upon the clergyman of his choice. As the English novel shows, nowhere is the Church's power more concretely displayed than in its access to these livings.
In this way social change is recorded by the novelist, and we are able to trace its course by comparing early and late fiction 25 A Reader's Guide to the Nineteenth-Century English Novel by the same author. The character of the great proprietor undergoes significant change from Austen's first to her last novels, in everything from how he manages his holdings and conceives of his relation to national affairs to what he does with his time at a fashionable resort. 18 Dickens's mid-career fiction, such as Domhey and Son, register the end of the first phase of the Industrial Revolution in showing the shift from cotton to steel in the occupations of working-class characters.
By the Second Reform Bill of 1867, the majority of the urban voting population in England was made up of the working class, but it was not until 1893 t n a t this class was sufficiently well organized politically to establish a labor party. In the course of the century, the social scale stretched and the pyramid became thinner and higher, a change that did not always benefit the lower class. There was a great increase of wealth at the top while three-quarters of all families had to share less than two-fifths of the available resources.
Readers Guide to the Nineteenth-Century English Novel by Julia Prewitt Brown