The novel was born in the 18th century but it was not until the 19th century when it reached its perfection and became closer to what we call nowadays a novel. In fact in the 1900s it became the genre of the age. This was due to many social factors. For example literacy rates improved and with the Industrial Revolution we have a better economic situation so this meant that middle classes began to rise sharply and the concept of free time or leisure time became more important than ever.
This implied some changes of topics in the published novels. The audience wanted to read for fun so we can say that the didactic purpose of the previous literature changed a little bit. People became addicted to novels, some of them were published in installments, weekly, monthly and some famous authors such as Dickens, Thakeray, and so on published some of their most well-known novels like that.
The main features of the Victorian novel are:
- Powerful voice of the omniscient narrator. They provided a comment on the plot and they established a strong barrier between "right" and "wrong"
- The most typical setting was the city, a symbol of the industrial civilisation. It was the perfect setting to write about lost identities and anonymous lives.
- Plots were quite long and complicated. Lots of twists.
- Characters were very important. There is a deep analysis of the characters' inner life.
- In the final chapters everything had to be explained and justified. No open ends. There are always rewards or punishments for the different characters depending on their actions.