Morality and Redemption in Orlando Furioso and The Princess and the Goblin

By L.M.

For my digital exhibit entry, I have chosen an excerpt from an 1869 issue of the Victorian periodical All the Year Round. This piece, entitled “The Wizard’s Castle,” is the fourth Canto of forty-six written by Lodovico Ariosto in his poem Orlando Furioso. “The Wizard’s Castle” describes two protagonists arriving at a castle and the battle that proceeds, with the maiden ultimately prevailing over the evil wizard. This is significant in the context of Victorian literature in how it goes along with certain characteristics of Victorian fairy tales. Even though Orlando Furioso is not from the Victorian era, the fact that it was published in All the Year Round shows it had some literary and cultural relevance. While morality and redemption play a role in both Orlando Furioso and The Princess and the Goblin, the pieces also display how much fantasy literature and fairy tales have changed over time.


Major themes in fairy tales were and still are morality and redemption. This is seen in Orlando Furioso through the resolution of love between various characters. This is also notable in how Bradamante, the main protagonist and heroine, prevails over the evil wizard. The success of protagonists against characters with lesser moral values Continue reading

Wilkie Collins and Distrustful Italians: The Effect of Foreign Influence in Victorian Fiction

By A. Saxby


“Italian Distrust” was published in the November 26, 1859 issue of All the Year Round. The article opens by noting the generalized view of Italians as “bigoted, superstitious, ignorant, lazy, and regardless of truth” (“Distrust” 104). The author rectifies this unflattering view when he claims the latest events of the Risorgimento have redeemed the Italian people. As Alison Chapman states, the goals of the Risorgimento were the trio of “unification, liberty, and independence” (3). These ideals, championed by the British, shifted English opinion of the flighty Italians, since they were now focusing on obtaining their independence (“Distrust” 105). However, this positive view is short lived. The remaining bulk of the article presumes that the “bane and poison of Italian nature…is Distrust” and that this distrustful nature is the Italians’ downfall (105). “Universal Distrust” is a hindrance to the Italian way of life; the author notes that Italians believe anyone who forthrightly believes what another person says is a dupe (106). Continue reading

The Mystery and Obesity of Isidor Ottavio Baldassare Fosco

By C. Fokkens

While Wilkie Collins was in the early stages of writing The Woman in White, the 36th volume of Punch, published in 1859, included an untitled cartoon portraying a plump man speaking to an even plumper lady in a sitting room while an average-weighted maid passes in the background. The inscription below reads: Stout Gent. “Dear! Dear! So he has formed an attachment that you don’t approve of! Ah! Well, there’s always something. Depend upon it, Ma’am, there’s a skeleton somewhere in every house!” (Punch 101). Within this cartoon, there is a double entendre in which both meanings pertain to the themes of obesity and secrecy in Woman in White and their relation to the character of Count Fosco. Continue reading

Status, Virtue and Bestowing Charity Beyond the Sea

By April Oldford

April's ScanCharles Dickens’ Bleak House is social problem novel, regarding the terrible conditions for those living in Victorian England and a scathing critique of those among society who remained indifferent on the subject, particularly those whom Dickens’ felt concerned themselves with “telescopic philanthropy,” that is, charity with a narrowed focus on issues external to Britain, rather than issues closer to home (Dickens 52). One of the charitable targets of Dickens’ criticisms was Caroline Chisholm, the founder of the Family Colonization Loan Society, a foundation that “transferred Great Britain’s poor, unemployed and starving from the slums of London, Liverpool, Manchester, and other Continue reading

Slim Chances in the Court of Chancery: Law in Bleak House and “The Oldest Chancery Suit in the World”

By Jessica Turvey

Chancery Suit

Punch, or The London Charivari, was a magazine established in 1841 by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells. Originally created for the British lower/working class, Punch became popular among all class levels. The main purpose of Punch was to add an element of humour to controversial topics including politics, the legal system, class and gender differences, the role of women, the lower class and poor sanitation (Allingham). The last issue came out in 2002 after a brief shut down in 1992 and attempted revival in 1996. Punch was the first magazine to create humorous political sketches and is responsible for creating the term cartoon (Allingham). Continue reading

The Problem with Charity: A Review of Charity and Race in Victorian England

By K. P.

Punch ScanIn 1841, Henry Mayhew and Ebenezer Landells founded a weekly satirical magazine entitled Punch, or The London Charivari. It was published from 1841 until 2002 and primarily focused on politics of the era (Punch Magazine). All of the articles were published anonymously under the title character “Mr. Punch,” which allowed writers and editors to share their opinions without any fear of judgment and produced a more unified voice that helped the paper successfully make its point (Punch Magazine). Since this magazine was released weekly, sold for three pennies, and included picture and text, its target audience would appear to be the middle class. Continue reading

I Cannot Hear You Over the Sound of How Awesome I Am: A Brief Exposition on Grandiose Figures in “Bullfrog” and Bleak House

By L. R.

BullfrogThe article “Bullfrog” was published in issue no. 243 of Household Words in 1854. Household Words was a weekly journal edited by Charles Dickens and each issue cost readers a mere tuppence (Allingham). New issues were published on Wednesdays, although they were dated as the Saturday prior, and they contained 24 pages divided into two columns. There were no illustrations or breaks in the layout; each article contained a small bold title followed by the text. Only the serialized novels received special treatment by having double sized titles. The articles in Household Words were published anonymously (except for novels); however, Anne Lohrli was able to ascertain the identity of each author through the financial records kept by the publishers (Allingham). Household Words ran in print from 1850 until 1859. Continue reading

Representations of Charity and Poverty in Bleak House and Household Words

By Lindy Carter

 pauperpalace_1 In 1850, three years prior to the publication of Bleak House, Household Words ran an article entitled “A Day in a Pauper Palace,” a narrative article describing a visit to a boarding school for poor children, most of them orphans. This boarding school, in fact a Tudor mansion, educated pauper children and prepared them for the working world. The article describes the school in a positive way, expounding on the particulars of the grounds, lessons, and pleasant nature of the children. The author is in favour of educating poor children, making the argument that they should not be punished for the “misdeeds” of their parents (“Pauper Palace” 361). This is consistent with evidence from Bleak House that shows, through the characters of Esther and Jo, the difference education can make in the life of an orphan. Continue reading

British Law in Bleak House and Punch

By Evan Read Armstrong

The work which I analyzed is the article “Torture of the English According to Law!” published in Punch volume 24 in 1853 (the same year Bleak House was published). This article appealed to me immediately not only because of its content but because of the derisive tone which the unknown author assumes.

Evan Read photoUsing superlatives and excessive metaphor, the author critiques the legal system in England. Specifically taking offense at the abuse of the English language that is manifested in the writing of English law and it’s “cumulative absurdities” which (according to the author of the article) only lawyers are able to understand. This directly mirrors the viewpoint of the disembodied narrator in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. The narrator has no patience for the hallowed institution of the law, and instead compares it to fashion which “are things of precedent and usage” (Dickens 20).  Mr. Tulkinghorn is the first legal authority introduced into the narrative and the narrators description of his physical appearance suggests much about the opinion of the man himself, “Mute, close and irresponsive, his dress is like himself” (Dickens 23). As the novel progresses, Mr. Continue reading

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and “A Word on a Difficult Subject”

By Keely W.

Scanned by Keely W.

Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal was a weekly penny paper magazine that was started in 1832 by William Chambers who was later helped by his brother Robert Chambers. The Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal was originally, as its title implies, produced in Edinburgh Scotland, until the late 1850’s where it was moved to London and taken over by James Payn as editor (“Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal“). Entries in the journal ranged from poetry, serial narratives, science articles, and many other topics. Since the journal was a penny paper, it was not only accessible for the upper and middle classes, but also to the working and lower classes. In the first edition of the journal the editor’s address states, “every Saturday, when the poorest labourer in the country draws his humble earnings, he shall have it in his power to purchase… a meal of healthful, useful, and agreeable mental instruction” (“Chambers”). Continue reading