Globalization and economics
Facing rapid capitalist expansion in the nineteenth century, Britons reflected on the webs of commercial exchange in which they were embedded. Focusing on John Stuart Mill’s notion of the perpetual reproduction of capital alongside literary forms and tropes (Gothicism, mythological imagery, the theme of speculation, and treasure-hunt plots), this essay explores Victorian global consciousness. The past employment of slave labour in the colonies haunted the Victorians, who were also increasingly alarmed by finance capitalism’s reliance on abstractions. Cosmopolitan sympathy for the nation’s trading partners flourished in literature alongside the effort to obscure the foreign sources of the nation’s wealth.