The Depiction of Victorian Progress in Waterland

Maya Rao '97 (English 168, 1996)

Calling the Atkinsons the "humble champions of progress" (Swift, 205), Waterland's narrator Tom Crick offers them up as models of Victorian progress. Fighting Nature, the Atkinsons attempt to shape the Fens' land and water in order to build a brewery empire. Crick dedicates the ninth chapter solely to the story of the rise of the Atkinsons and how they used technology to progress forward. Thinking only of the future and disregarding the past, each generation of the Atkinsons builds on the dying generation's ideas. Beginning with the first Atkinson's idea to grow barley, the family progresses to reclaiming the land and controlling the water by the Victorian period. Always moving forward, this progression constructs time linearly. Using the Atkinsons to establish this notion of Victorian progress, Crick presents the attitudes towards time frame he inherits and fights against.

United Kingdom