The Victorian Woman

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Profesor îndrumător / Prezentat Profesorului: Maria Ciolacu

Cuprins

Introduction.1

The Life of a Victorian Woman.2

Ideals of Womanhood in Victorian Britain.3

The Ideal Woman.4

At Home.4

Wife and Mother.5

Social Responsability.5

Social diffenrences between Classes of Woman.6

Victorian Delicacy.7

Woman and Urban Life in Victorian Britain.7

Woman’s Mission.9

Domestic Sphere.9

The City.10

Ordinary Women.10

Famous Victorian Women.12

Queen Victoria.13

Florance Nightingale.16

Elisabeth Garrett Anderson.18

Kate Greenaway.19

Christina Rosetti.22

The Victorian Wedding.23

The Victorian Family.30

The Victorian Parents.31

The Victorian Children.33

Bibliography.35

Extras din document

Introduction

The Victorian era of Great Britain is considered the height of the British industrial revolution and the apex of the British Empire. It is often defined as the years from 1837 to 1901, when Queen Victoria reigned, though many historians believe that the passage of the Reform Act 1832 marks the true inception of a new cultural era. The Victorian era was preceded by the Regency era and came before the Edwardian period.

The Victorian era refers to Queen Victoria's rule which began in 1837 and concluded in 1901. Under her rule, the British people enjoyed a long period of prosperity. Profits gained from the overseas British Empire, as well as from industrial improvements at home, allowed a large, educated middle class to develop. It was a tremendously exciting period when many artistic styles, literary schools, as well as, social, political and religious movements flourished. It was a time of prosperity, broad imperial expansion, and great political reform. It was also a time, which today we associate with "prudishness" and "repression". Without a doubt, it was an extraordinarily complex age, that has sometimes been called the Second English Renaissance. It is, however, also the beginning of Modern Times.

The Victorian era was a period of dramatic change that brought England to its highest point of development as a world power. The rapid growth of London, from a population of 2 million when Victoria came to the throne to one of 6.5 million by the time of Victoria's death, indicates the dramatic transition from a way of life based on the ownership of land to a modern urban economy.

'...the Victorian era of Great Britain is considered the height of the British industrial revolution and the apex of the British Empire...'

This flourishing age was also a time of tremendous scientific progress and ideas. Darwin took his Voyage of the Beagle, and posited the Theory of Evolution. The Great Exhibition of 1851 took place in London, lauding the technical and industrial advances of the age, and strides in medicine and the physical sciences continued throughout the century. The radical thought associated with modern psychiatry began with men like Sigmund Feud toward the end of the era, and radical economic theory, developed by Karl Marx and his associates, began a second age of revolution in mid-century. The ideas of Marxism, socialism, feminism churned and bubbled along with all else that happened.

An art movement indicative of this period was the Pre-Raphaelites, which included William Holman Hunt, Christina Rossetti, and John Everett Millais. Also during this period were the Impressionists, the Realists, and the Fauves, though the Pre-Raphaelites were distinctive for being a completely English movement. As stated in the beginning, the Victorian Age was an extremely diverse and complex period. It was, indeed, the precursor of the modern era. If one wishes to understand the world today in terms of society, culture, science, and ideas, it is imperative to study this era.

The social classes of England were newly reforming, and fomenting. There was a churning upheaval of the old hierarchical order, and the middle classes were steadily growing. Added to that, the upper classes' composition was changing from simply hereditary aristocracy to a combination of nobility and an emerging wealthy commercial class. The definition of what made someone a gentleman or a lady was, therefore, changing at what some thought was an alarming rate.

These major changes in all fields of life had made a major contribution in England’s future history.

I have chosen to write about this period because I consider the Victorian Age a time of challenges, reforms, significant changes and prosperity, but also it is a magic period that hasn’t been exploited by each of us. Because the Victorian Age is a very comprehensive topic, I mainly focused on women’s issues and family aspects. I think that women in that period were a simbol of purity but also they were surrounded by mistery. So, please take a few minutes now to step back in history. Slow your clock to Victorian time, measured by the soft flutter of a lady's feathered fan, the gentle billow of lace curtains lifted by the welcome breeze, the drowsy hum of insects on a hot summer afternoon...

The life of a Victorian Woman

During the reign of Queen Victoria, a woman's place was considered to be in the home. Then the mood changed, as charitable missions began to extend the female role of service, and Victorian feminism began to emerge as a potent political force.

Ideals of Womanhood in Victorian Britain

During the reign of Queen Victoria, a woman's place was in the home, as domesticity and motherhood were considered by society at large to be a sufficient emotional fulfilment for females. These constructs kept women far away from the public sphere in most ways, but during the 19th century charitable missions did begin to extend the female role of service, and Victorian feminism emerged as a potent political force.

The transformation of Britain into an industrial nation had profound consequences for the ways in which women were to be idealised in Victorian times. New kinds of work and new kinds of urban living prompted a change in the ways in which appropriate male and female roles were perceived. In particular, the notion of separate spheres - woman in the private sphere of the home and hearth, man in the public sphere of business, politics and sociability - came to influence the choices and experiences of all women, at home, at work, in the streets.

' ... Victoria became an icon of late-19th-century middle-class femininity and domesticity. '

The Victorian era, 1837-1901, is characterised as the domestic age par excellence, epitomised by Queen Victoria, who came to represent a kind of femininity which was centred on the family, motherhood and respectability. Accompanied by her beloved husband Albert, and surrounded by her many children in the sumptuous but homely surroundings of Balmoral Castle, Victoria became an icon of late-19th-century middle-class femininity and domesticity.

Indeed, Victoria came to be seen as the very model of marital stability and domestic virtue. Her marriage to Albert represented the ideal of marital harmony. She was described as 'the mother of the nation', and she came to embody the idea of home as a cosy, domestic space. When Albert died in 1861 she retreated to her home and family in preference to public political engagements.

The Ideal Woman

Apart from the queen - who was the ideal Victorian woman? She may have resembled Mrs Frances Goodby, the wife of the Reverend J Goodby of Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire, of whom it was said at her death that she carried out her duties as mistress of a small family with 'piety, patience, frugality and industry'. Moreover,

'... her ardent and unceasing flow of spirits, extreme activity and diligence, her punctuality, uprightness and remarkable frugality, combined with a firm reliance on God ... carried her through the severest times of pressure, both with credit and respectability ...' (The General Baptist Repository and Missionary Observer, 1840).

Mrs Goodby exemplified the good and virtuous woman whose life revolved around the domestic sphere of the home and family. She was pious, respectable and busy - no life of leisure for her. Her diligence and evident constant devotion to her husband, as well as to her God, identifies Frances Goodby as an example to other women. She accepted her place in the sexual hierarchy. Her role was that of helpmeet and domestic manager.

'... domesticity was trumpeted as a female domain.'

By the time that the industrial era was well advanced in Britain, the ideology that assigned the private sphere to the woman and the public sphere of business, commerce and politics to the man had been widely dispersed. In popular advice literature and domestic novels, as well as in the advertisement columns of magazines and newspapers, domesticity was trumpeted as a female domain.

The increasing physical separation of the home and the workplace, for many amongst the professional and commercial classes, meant that these women lost touch with production, and came to fashion an identity solely within the domestic sphere. It was through their duties within the home that women were offered a moral duty, towards their families, especially their husbands, and towards society as a whole.

However, as the example of Frances Goodby shows, the ideal woman at this time was not the weak, passive creature of romantic fiction. Rather she was a busy, able and upright figure who drew strength from her moral superiority and whose virtue was manifested in the service of others.

Thus the notion of separate spheres - as lived in the industrial period - was not a blind adherence to a set of imposed values. Rather it was a way of living and working based on evangelical beliefs about the importance of the family, the constancy of marriage and woman's innate moral goodness.

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