|Solitude by Frederic Leighton|
I once read that Victorians could be far more isolated and consequently much more eccentric than we are today. I suppose it isn't a surprising observation, simply because of huge relative differences in ease of communication and travel. No doubt these modern developments have in some respects, a social smoothing effect.
So Dickens’ characters may not be quite so overdrawn and improbable as we suppose. Take this quote from Wilkie Collin's Armadale.
Of the few resident gentlemen in the neighbourhood, none were ever admitted by Mrs Armadale to more than the merest acquaintance with her. Contentedly self-buried in her country retreat, she was proof against every social attraction that would have tempted other women in her position and at her age. Mr. Brock and his newspaper, appearing with monotonous regularity at her tea-table three times a week, told her all she knew or cared to know of the great outer world which circled round the narrow and changeless limits of her daily life.
Wilkie Collins – Armadale.
An obvious question is – are you attracted or repelled by such a degree of solitude? For my part, I don’t know. It isn’t such an easy option today though, is it?