The super-productive Dickens is the dominant figure of the Victorian novel, combining elements of the Gothic — a genre made serious by the Brontë sisters — with a vividly imagined account of the social institutions of Victorian England. The mode of his novels owes much to popular stage and melodrama, though language and character-creation are his own. His rival, Thackeray, is represented here by Vanity Fair. A less theatrical realism comes in with Mrs Gaskell and Trollope, and with the historian of imperfect lives in their fullest social settings, George Eliot.
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