Victorian Poetry in English Literature: Characteristics & Themes


Victorian poetry refers to the verses composed during the reign of Queen Victoria in English (1837-1901). This period was marked by tremendous cultural upheaval.

There were a drastic change and development in the form of literature, art and music. Although Victorian Poetry was quite different from that of the preceding era, yet there were some similarities that existed between the two periods.

  1. Questioning the Established Rule of Church
  2. Interest in myths and mysteries.
  3. Scepticism and Doubtfulness.



The Victorian Poetry was quite realistic in nature and quite less idealised as compared to the Romanic Poets who were idealists and believed in Art for the Art Sake. Nature, that was everything for the Romantics lost that idealised position in the Victorian era and became just a source of leisure and inspiration for the poets.

Focus on Masses

Romantic Poetry mainly focused on rural and rustic life. It is no way related to city life. On the other hand, Victorian poets used language as well as themes common to city life and thus wrote about the masses and for the masses.


As already discussed, Victorians were quite realistic and thus were more concerned about the reality rather than the ideal world. Due to the industrial revolution and advancement in science and technology, there was a drastic increase in the city population that gave rise to slums, poverty, unemployment, corruption diseases, deaths etc.

Thus, Victorian Poetry which focused on the pains and sufferings of commoners had a note of pessimism.

Science and Technology

The advancement in science and inventions was welcomed by the Victorian poets. It made them believe that a man can find all solutions to his problems and sufferings. They made their readers believe that they should use science for their betterment.

Questioning to God

It was an important feature of Victorian poetry. The development of empirical science, rationalism and radicalism led the people to give up religious thoughts and be more sceptic. Moreover, corruption in the Church, defining the morality of Priests, etc also led the people to question the religious institutions.

Sense of Responsibility

The Romantics believed in “return in nature”. A number of the Romantics did not like the city life and instead of giving voice to the victims of industrialisation, they left the city life. On the other hand, Victoria poets took the responsibility of social reform and gave voice to the commoners by living with them.


Though morality saw a steep decline in the Victorian Era, a number of poets tried to retain it by encouraging the people to be honest and noble.

Interest in Medieval Myths & Folklore

The Victorians showed great favour towards Medieval Literature. They loved mythical and chivalrous anecdotes of Medieval Knights, Courtly Love etc. This interest is on contrary to the of Romantics as the latter loved classical myths and legends.

Use of Sensory Devices & Imagery

The poets of the preceding era used imagery vividly. However, the Victorians also used sensory devices to describe the abstract scenes of chaos between Religion and Science.


The Victorians wrote about artistic creations thus giving way to deeper imaginations.


A number of poets wrote humorous and whimsical verses. e.g. Bad Ballads.

Dramatic Monologue