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The Victorian Age

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on 26 September 2013

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Transcript of The Victorian Age

The Victorian Age
Social Classes
Three main social groupings
Divided by:
Living conditions
Middle class growing

Science & Technology vs. Religion
Upper Class
Servants to care for the household
Women had time to socialize
England: aristocracy
US: "old wealth"
Victorian Era

Middle Class
Moderate education
Sent sons to get an education
Typically had stronger family bonds
Working Class
Struggled to survive
Kids worked from a young age
Mainting the household extremely difficult
Fewer moral expectations
Social Classes in "Tess"
Middle class had very strict behavioral expectations
Women expected to have sexual morality, more than men
"I can't bear to let anybody have him but me! Yet it is a wrong to him, and may kill him when he knows!"
"In the name of our love, forgive me!" she whispered with a dry mouth. "I have forgiven you for the same!"
Middle class men waited until financially stable to marry
Their marriage is already unusual
"Don't you think 'twould have been better for us to wait till you were quite settled in your midland farm?" she once asked timidly.
Being part of the aristocracy is a necessary part of joining the upper class
Wealth alone is not enough to have power

"He felt the necessity of recommencing with a name that would not too readily identify him with the smart tradesman of the past."
Social Classes in "The Awakening"
Women considered their husband's possession
The wife's duty to create a happy household
Divorce was impossible for the wife
"She would, through habit, have yielded to his desire; not with any sense of submission...but unthinkingly."
The actions of the upper classes were recorded in the newspaper
Wealthy people compared to each other based on this information

"Furthermore, in one of the daily papers appeared a brief notice to the effect that Mr. and Mrs. Pontellier were contemplating a summer sojourn abroad."
Fancy possessions were a measure of people's wealth
It was good to have a house cluttered with decorations
"The softest carpets and rugs covered the floors; rich and tasteful draperies hung at doors and windows."
The US
Specifically in New Orleans, a big mix of languages
French Creoles set themselves apart with French
Edna did not really fit among the Creoles and struggled to understand French
"Mrs. Pontellier, though she had married a Creole, was not thoroughly at home in the society of Creoles."
"It was impossible for her to guess how much of it was jest and what proportion was earnest."
Differences in language not as obvious
Dialect and speaking style showed level of education
"His influence over her had been so marked that she had caught his manner and habits, his speech and phrases."
Agricultural Advances
The "Crystal Palace" at the Great Exhibition in 1851

Improved machinery: mechanical threshers, sowers, reapers, mills, cotton gin, power looms and more
Improved transportation with the steam engine as well as steam driven machines
Increased selective breeding of livestock and crops
better farm buildings
greater spread of general farming knowledge
"but for Tess there was no respite; for, as the drum never stopped, the man who fed it could not stop, and she, who had to supply the man with untied sheaves, could not stop either, . . ."(338, Hardy)
Trains and the Revolution in Railways
In England between 1820 and 1850, 6,000 miles of railway were opened, changing the economy of the country as well as social perception of time.
Foundation of capital goods production
Similar changes in America as the first transcontinental railroad was built in 1869
Steam Boats
Allowed the shipments of cotton as well as other goods up the Mississippi, which made New Orleans, and its businessmen, rich.
"A few days later a box arrived for Mrs. Pontellier from New Orleans. It was from her husband. It was filled with friandises, with luscious and toothsome bits - the finest of fruits, pates, a rare bottle or two, delicious syrups, and bonbons in abundance." (15, Chopin)
Natural History and Theology
up until the 1860's the idea that nature showed signs of intelligent design was accepted if proof of God and creationism was needed at all
even evangelicals did not take the bible as literal in all aspects, those who did were rare
By the middle of the century however there were changes. . .
Idea of natural Theology
The idea that nature shows intelligent design because life is too complicated to have originated spontaneously and it cannot have created itself
William Paley
John Tyndell and T.H. Huxley
Part of the growing "professionalism" of science
Huxley was "Darwin's Bulldog" yet disagreed with him on some points, claiming evolution was not gradual, but happened in "leaps"
Tyndell called for power of science over religion and rationalism over faith in his Belfast Address
though these new ideas were mostly confined to the intellectual elite, they were growing
Charles Darwin & Natural Selection
On The Origin of Species challenged the way scientific truth was accepted according to "Herschel's and Whewell's framework for legitimate science"
Prompted Scientific Naturalists to claim "it was impossible to find any true knowledge of any reality which lay beyond or behind our sense perceptions"
Also paved the way for Herbert Spencer's Social Darwinism

"'Of course,' continued the unwitting Clare, 'I should have been glad to know you to be descended exclusively from the long-suffering, dumb, unrecorded rank and file of the English nation, and not from the self-seeking few who made themselves powerful at the expense of the rest.'"(194, Hardy)
The Church of England
The Prayer Book and Importance of Scripture
The Prayer Book was inextricably tied to every day of life and upheld not just the scripture, but the social respect to aristocracy and the King
The Growing Gap Between the Working Class and the Clergy
By the 1880s cultural, economic, and political differences between the working class and the clergy contributed to the decline in working class attendance at church
The majority of clergy was upper middle class, conservative, and better educated than common English people; this alienated many working class
Church was an inescapable part of life, yet the working class also remained tied to nature and superstition in many ways
"Tess then stood erect with the infant on her arm beside the basin, the next sister held the Prayer-Book open before her, as the clerk at church held it before the parson; and thus the girl set about baptizing her child."(96, Hardy)
Presbyterian History in America
In Pre-Victorian times Presbyterians had experienced slow growth
Helped some by the Plan of Union with Congregationalists
By the Victorian era Presbyterianism had undergone many fractures and revivals
The North-South schism was of particular importance in the late Victorian era between the New School North and the Old School South
Basic beliefs of Presbyterianism during the Victorian era
Protestant, Calvinists origin
led by a General Assembly of presbyters of "equal ecclesiastical rank" with a minister
at the time focused on theology, not emotions
seen as more strict methodology than other Protestant faiths
often ministers were school teachers as well
"'Likely as not it was Sunday,' she laughed: ' and I was running away from prayers, from the Presbyterian service, read in a spirit of doom by my father that chills me yet to think of.'"(30, Chopin)
Catholicism among Creoles
History in Louisiana
"The lovers, who had laid their plans the night before, were already strolling toward the wharf. The lady in black, with her Sunday prayerbook, velvet and gold-clasped, and her Sunday silver beads, was following them at no great distance."(55, Hardy)
The Church was where people gathered for dances, celebrations, holidays, and other social gatherings, not just mass
Familial feasts and ties over Catholic holidays are essential
So are the traditional religious observances and elements such as rosaries, crucifixes, and statues of patron saints often found in Creole homes
The official Roman Catholicism has blended with local traditions and superstitions
Catholicism was and is the majority religion and came to dictate not just spiritual relations, but relations between different ethnic groups
Catholicism has even influenced common architecture, and the calandar
Victorian Era :
Victorian era dates back to the time when queen Victoria became the new ruler of England. This period known as the Victorian era in England from 1837 to 1901,witnessed such polarized gender roles that it can also be analyzed according to the different functions assigned to men and women more commonly known as the ideology of separate spheres.

Role of men in society during the Victorian age
The separate sphere framework of men included the
Possession of capacity for reason.
Self interest.
Men in general considered themselves as the “superior ones” in society and had an active role.
Role of women in society during the Victorian age
Dominated by class system
Lower class women were treated at par with slaves
Had no place in decision making and intellectual opinions
Used to further the race and raise families
No ownership and had very less or no legal rights
Legal rights of the men
Dominant members of society
Had the complete ownership of resources and wealth
Men were decision makers at family and political level
Always had custody of the children

Legal rights of the women during the Victorian era
Women had little and in some cases no legal rights
Every aspect of women life was dependent and dictated by her father, guardian or husband when married
Could not follow their own free will.

Women’s fashion and its role in the Victorian society
“lace” became a symbol of status for women
Rich women used laces in their dresses while the poor used crochet pieces.
They used parasol for coverage from rain
They wore layers of clothing which made their dress very impractical to wear.

All these clothing's and sense of fashion foreshadow the idea that women in those era were a symbol of beauty and sexual attractiveness. They did not have any other labor or work especially the women of upper class, but to entertain the men of the society and keep their homes.
Examples of the gender influences in the novel “Tess of the D’Urbervilles”
“double moral standard” in sexuality applied to men and women pervades Tess’s life pilgrimage.
After sexual violation, the rigid society gives her no chance for regeneration.
As Hardy suggests in the novel,patriarchal society .the habitat of the heroine, is the root of her tragedy, shaping her miserable fate.
The male dominance can find expression in the novel when Tess tells Alec after his seduction, “See how you’ve mastered me!” and her complaint to her mother also helps apprehend men’s manipulation over women, “Why didn’t you tell me there was danger in menfolk?”

It is also reflected in Alec’s warning to Tess, “Remember, my lady ,I was your master once; I will be your master again”.
Hardy's wonderful description of their conversation, crystallizing the rigidity of ethical prejudice towards womanly virginity and chastity, “in the name of our love, forgive me,” she whispered with a dry mouth. “I have forgiven you for the same.”And as he did not answer, she said again; “Forgive me as you are forgiven. I forgive you, Angel.
”“You- yes, you do.” “But you do not forgive me?” “O Tess. Forgiveness does not apply to the case. You were one person; now you are another…………”

Examples of Gender Influences in The Awakening
Edna is being awakened and her transition from a traditional woman to a free and awakened person
“looking at them reminded her of her of her rings which she had given to her husband before leaving for the beach. She finally reached to him and he understanding, took the rings from his vest pocket and dropped them into her open palm. She slipped them upon her fingers.” Edna being portrayed as a traditional house wife
“I would give-up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children bust I wouldn't give my self “
“Yes” she said “the years that are gone seems like dreams if one might go on sleeping and dreaming – but to wake up and find … oh! well! Perhaps it is better to wake up after all even to suffer rather than to remain a dupe to illusions in ones life”


Led to Hardy’s loss of faith in his Orthodox religion.
Idea of extinction of species which couldn’t adapt to change.
Hardy’s pessimistic view of Nature based on Darwin’s theory
Fallen Women
Loss of innocence
Victorian view of sex
Related Literature

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
a) Inferiority to men
b)Double standard
c) Victorian view of sex


Formulated by Emile Zola
Darwin, Marx, and Engels
Naturalism v Realism
“Hereditary and environment are the major sources that shape human beings.”


Tess as Working Class
Tied cottage system
Marxist viewpoint on Tess’s downfall

Dominant Themes in Visual Arts in the Awakening
Distinct music representation of characters

Adèle Ratignolle
Madaemoiselle Reisz
Farival Twins
Influential Trends in Literature in The Awakening
New Woman
Victorian Era ideals of a woman
Characteristics of a “New Woman”
“Shift in social attitudes regarding gender relations
Dominant themes in Visual Arts in Tess of D’ Urbervilles
Bird Symbolization
Representation of women symbolized by nature
Symbolization of this society
Related "New Woman" Works
Contrast-Ideal Womanhood
a) William Makepeace Thackery’s Vanity Fair- Amelia Sedley
b) Charles Dickens’s The Bleak House- Esther Summerson
Olive Schreiner- Story of an African Farm
Thomas Hardy- Jude the Obscure
- oppressive Victorian double moral standard

Influence of Segmund Freud
Human psyche
Consciousness and unconsciousness
Regression to infancy
Naturalistic ideas

Imagery of Nature

Colors- black and white
- “the white muslin figure…everything else was blackness”
- “The sun, on account of the mist, had a curious sentiment, personal look, demanding the masculine pronoun for its adequate expression”
-spring and summer
Nature as a Character

“villian character”
Nature as Deceptive
Symbol of Art
Freedom and failure
“The very first chords Mademoiselle Reisz struck upon the piano sent a keen tremor down Mrs. Pontellier’s spinal column.”
Representation of how women should act

Piano Pieces

Chopin Impromptu
Isolde’s love song from the opera Tristan and Isolde.

Influential Trends in Literature in Tess
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