Analyzing Progress in Victorian Literature

Classified in History

Written at on English with a size of 3.84 KB.

Theme: Progress

Text analysis: Persuasion


  • Logical appeal: this technique uses reason and evidence to support a position.
  • Emotional appeal: This technique creates strong feelings, such as fear and anger, to influence readers' opinions.
  • Ethical appeal: This technique refers to values and principles which the reader is likely to believe in strongly.

Reading skill: Recognize ideas

Victorian writers use complex sentences filled with phrases, clauses, and modifiers.


  • Clarify meaning by identifying the main subject and verb of a sentence.
  • Watch for patterns in the text, such as repeated sentence structures, that the author uses to organize thoughts.
  • Once you identify the idea of a passage, reread it. Consider the details you initially skipped over.

Debase: v. To lower in value, quality, or dignity; to cheapen.

Prophesy: v. To predict (something) by or as if by divine guidance.

Defray: v. To furnish money for.

Lucrative: adj. Producing wealth or profit.

Countenance: n. Face; facial expression.

Stoicism: n. Indifference to pleasure or pain.

Evidence of Progress

  • Critical commentary by Thomas Babington Macaulay

Background: Industrialism brought sweeping changes to Victorian society. The invention of the steam engine in the 1780s helped create a new kind of workplace--- the factory. The development of railways in the 1830s led to the growth of large industrial towns, where hundreds of thousands of workers migrated in search of work. Critics of industrialism focused on the plight of these workers. But other commentators celebrated the economic growth enabled by these technological advances. Macaulay, writing in 1830, found reasons for optimism in the midst of these rapid and unsettling changes.

Purpose for reading: To determine its author’s view on the validity of this statement: “Progress has its price.”


  1. A war that makes others insignificant: Revolutionary and Napoleonic France (1792-1815)
  2. Sussex and Huntingdonshire… West Riding of Yorkshire: two former counties in southeastern England, and the western section of Yorkshire, a large county in northern England.
  3. Ben Nevis and Helvellyn: mountains in Britain. Ben Nevis is located in Scotland; Helvellyn, in the Lake District of northwestern England.
  4. Crash in 1720: The financial crisis known as the Sea Bubble, caused by the overvaluation of stock in the South Sea Company.
  5. More into the exchequer… customs: More into the treasury than taxes on domestic and imported goods.
  6. Charles the Second: king of England from 1660 to 1685.
  7. Sailing without wind… ride without horses: Traveling on steamships and beginning to travel on railroads.
  8. Gulliver’s Travels: The fanciful satire by Jonathan Swift, published in 1726.
  9. Fee-simple...Plantagenets: complete ownership of the Plantagenet estates. The House of Plantagenet was the royal dynasty that ruled as Lord Protector from 1653- 1658.
  10. Elizabeth… Cromwell: Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled England from 1558 to 1603, and Oliver Cromwell, who ruled as Lord Protector from 1653 to 1658.
  11. Forty shillings… voter: In Macaulay’s time, only males with a certain minimum income were able to vote in Britain. A shilling was a unit of currency equal to 1/ 20 of a pound.
  12. Junius… Lord Chatham: William Pitt the Elder, the politician who led Britain into the costly Seven Years’ War with France, was named Earl of Chatham in 1766. Junius was the pen name of a political commentator who usually supported Pitt.
  13. Pitt, Fox, and Burke: William Pitt the Younger (Second son of William Pitt the Elder), Charles James Fox, and Edmund Burke, British political leaders of the late 18th century.

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