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Prosperity vs. Miseries, Contradictions, and the Question of Women

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Presentation on theme: "Prosperity vs. Miseries, Contradictions, and the Question of Women"— Presentation transcript:

1 Prosperity vs. Miseries, Contradictions, and the Question of Women
THE VICTORIAN AGE Prosperity vs. Miseries, Contradictions, and the Question of Women Image sources 1, 2

2 Outline From Romantic Quest to Social Reform
Prosperity and Miseries: Industrialism [& Imperialism] Home Sweet Home and the Question of Woman

3 April 19, 1824 was for Tennyson ‘a day when the whole world seemed to be darkened for me’. On a rock, close to his home, he carved the words ‘Byron is dead.’ (Cronin 105)

4 Romanticism vs. Victorianism
Nature & Human nature Emphasis on emotion/individualism Romantic Poets and Hero Victorianism Belief in Progress and Industrial Revolution Social Earnestness and Respectability Victorian Novelists as Moralists Victorian Poetry “Feminized”

5 Victorian Age: 3 periods
Industrialism, Scientific Progress The early period ( ) social reform and unrest The middle period ( ) Anti-Victorianism & religious controversy The last period ( ) Decay/ challenge of Victorian values Prosperity & Social Earnestness Decline of the Empire reference

6 Victorian Age: 3 periods
Lyrical Ballads 1st ed. 1798 Keats 1819 Odes Ode to the West Wind 1820 Casabianca 1826 Frankenstein 1818 The early period ( ) “Lady of Shallot” The middle period ( ) “In Memoriam” 1849 “Childe Roland” 1855 “Goblin Market” 1859 The last period ( ) The Darkling Thrush 1900 Convergence of the Twain 1912 Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre 1847 Bleak House Alice in Wonderland 1865 Middlemarch Dorian Gray 1890 Importance of Being Earnest 1895 Pygmalion 1916

7 Social Earnestness e.g. The Reform Bill of 1832 & 1867
Transformed English class structure Extended the right to vote to all males owning property Second Reform Bill passed in 1867 Extended right to vote to working class This painting by Sir George Hayter (now in the National Portrait Gallery) commemorates the passing of the Great Reform Act in It depicts the first session of the newly reformed House of Commons on 5 February 1833 held in St Stephen's Chapel which was destroyed by fire in (source)

8 Industrialism and Social Unrest
Industrial Revolution  Urbanization: e.g. London - - Population of London expands from 1 million in to 6.7 million in 1900 (and over 8 million today)  overcrowding, pollution, prostitution and disease (e.g. “London” “The Chimney Sweeper” & Jane Eyre) Increase in wealth and social mobility Displacement Anxiety

9 e.g. The Crystal Palace-- the 1851 Great Exhibition
In Hyde Park, a gigantic greenhouse erected to display the exhibits of modern industry and science, such as hydraulic presses, locomotives, machine tools, power looms, power reapers, and steamboat engines. One of the first buildings constructed according to modern architectural principles, symbolizing the triumphs of Victorian industry Inventions: Steam locomotion & railway, iron and steel ships and the telegraph source

10 BBC the Victorians: 1. Painting The Town
The modern city 6:00 – Queen Street Mill 9:45 – slums 26:00 – Derby Day Sewage system Manchester Town hall 1888 Glasgow International Exhibition 49:00 – London, East and West End

11 Ref. Queen Victoria (1819-1901) Reign: 1837-1901
She had the longest reign in British history Became queen at the age of 18; she was graceful and self-assured. She also had a gift for drawing and painting. Throughout her reign, she maintained a sense of dignity and decorum that restored the average person’s high opinion of the monarchy after a series of horrible, ineffective leaders 1840-Victoria married a German prince, Albert, who became not king, but Prince- consort After he died in 1861, she sank into a deep depression and wore black every day for the rest of her life Source

12 BBC the Victorians: 2. Home Sweet Home
-- opening, -- Queen Victoria’s Osborne House -- The other sides of a Victorian sweet home (adulteress, prostitutes) -- 33:20 governess -- 35:43 Children: dotted upon; infant deaths -- 40:00 Amelia Dyer baby farmer -- 44:00 Fallen women (women drowning themselves in Thames) -- 51:00 Women’s dress – with a corset in it -- 54:45 Victorian women fought back

13 The Social Roles of Women
The Woman Question –suffrage, property rights, marriage, etc. Child Custody Act, gave a mother the right to petition the court for access to her minor children and custody of her children Matrimonial Causes Act (legally separated wife given right to keep what she earns), 1857 First Married Woman's Property Act, 1870 Voting Act (Enfranchised all men over 21, and all women over 30) 1918 Equal Franchise Act (Equal voting rights for both men and women), 1928 Reference: 1, 2

14 Equal Rights for Women: Education
Lady’s education: piano, French, sewing, painting, etc. (Jane Eyre chap 10) First women’s college established in 1848 in London. By the end of Victoria’s reign, women could take degrees at twelve university colleges. Free public education for every child in England was not available until 1899 (Mr. Brocklehurst & Lowood Institution in Jane Eyre [1847] ) Reference: 1, 2

15 Angels in the House: Victorian Women and the Home
Victorian society was preoccupied with the very nature of women. Protected and enshrined within the home, she is expected to create a place of peace where man could take refuge from the difficulties of modern life. Reference: 1, 2

16 Famous Images of Women in the Victorian Age
Florence Nightingale (source) Queen Victoria (source)

17 Working Conditions for Women
Bad working conditions and underemployment drove thousands of women into prostitution. (8600 reported cases in London, and probably up to 80,000 sourcePygmalion) The only occupation at which an unmarried middle- class woman could earn a living and maintain some claim to gentility was that of a governess. Found Drowned by George Frederic Watts RA ( ) Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the Watts Gallery, Compton. (source) Reference: 1, 2

18 Governess in Victorian Society
moderate income for survival "no security of employment, minimal wages, and an ambiguous status, somewhere between servant and family member, that isolated her within the household" (Norton Anthology of English Literature, 2: 903). (source) e.g. Jane Eyre, Vanity Fair and The French Lieutenant’s Woman. ‘ Why can’t Jane Eyre go to college? no college before 1840 no career prospect with a college degree.

19 Quotes re. Education & Class Positions in Jane Eyre
Brocklehurst: "my plan in bringing up these girls is, … to render them hardy, patient, self-denying. . ., by encouraging them to evince fortitude under the temporary privation." Jane-- "poor, obscure, plain, and little," Jane: "if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you.“ (XXIII) Jane teaching at Morton: "I felt-yes, idiot that I am-I felt degraded. I doubted I had taken a step which sank instead of raising me in the scale of social existence. I was weakly dismayed at the ignorance, the poverty, the coarseness of all I heard and saw round me.“ (XXXI)


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