William Shakespeare: A Victorian Hero-Poet
This paper intends to show Shakespeare in a Victorian context as the forefront of literary activities. It will try to show what Shakespeare meant to the Victorians at a time when all the traditional institutions were challenged from every corner. The Victorian audiences respected Shakespeare, reclaiming him as the nation's Bard. This reverence of Shakespeare has since been named Victorian 'Bardolatry'. Victorians, trained by novel reading, welcomed Shakespeare as a write of characters and appreciated his insights into the mind of his characters.
The major Victorian writers lived in an age of profound spiritual unrest brought about mainly by the new discoveries of science and "higher criticism". The writers of the period were severe critic of their times and of life, and all attempted, in one way or another, to establish new spiritual bases for their modern life. Carlyle, a great thinker of this era, assumed his role of prophet before Victoria came to the throne. He believed that Great Men were profitable company, the leaders of men, modellers and patters. A great man as a living light-fountain enlightens the darkness of the world. What unites a great man to other men in all times is divinity. So these men are the real 'heroes' and one class of these heroes is the hero as poet. Of this class, Carlyle mentions two names Dante and Shakespeare and later prefers Shakespeare to Dante.