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Historical Context A Christmas Carol
Transcript of Historical Context A Christmas Carol
Britain During the Victorian era Britain was the most powerful nation.
By the end of Victoria's reign, the British Empire extended over 1/5 of the earth's surface. This resulted in a number of colonial wars.
The gap between rich and poor was massive
The Victorian family was large due to high birth rates a increasing life expectancy - in 1870 the average family had five or six children
Life expectancy - the late 30s in 1837 - had increased to 48 by 1901
Working class families lived in squalor, deprivation, dirt and misery.
They barely had enough money to buy food.
Child mortality was very high.
There was no healthcare - if you got ill and couldn't work, your whole family was at risk of death.
A lot of children did not go to school (until 1880) and had to work to earn money for their family.
The workhouse was often the best option for working class families. Working class families Rich families lived in luxury, with large houses, plenty of money, food and clothes
The children were not required to work, and they had expensive toys and often went on holiday
Children from rich families were taught at home by a governess until they were ten years old. Once a boy turned ten, he went away to Public schools like Eton or Harrow.
There were very few schools available for girls, however, until near the end of the Victorian time. Wealthy girls were mostly educated at home.
Rich families The Industrial revolution promoted the
world's first industrial and consumer-oriented
society in Britain.
Canal, river, road and sea transport were all greatly improved. From the 1840s, railways revolutionised the speed of communication and the transport of passengers and, more gradually, freight.
The role of national and local government was considerably transformed. The dynamism of the economy shifted from agriculture to industry and trade.
By the mid 19th century, industrialisation had
altered the lives of women and children as
much as men. Ideas of gender
and ethnicity as well as class
had changed. The Industrial Revolution For most, the world was restricted to their village - where their family had probably lived for generations - and the nearest market town, not surprising when the fastest thing on earth was a galloping horse, covering 100 miles a day at best.
If you lived in Somerset, London was almost foreign, much as it had been in 1600. You wouldn't even have been using the same time - with the sun rising around ten minutes later than in London, Bristol clocks ran ten minutes behind.
Horizons were limited and life was slow. It was horsepower or nothing, and daylight and the seasons ruled the countryside.
But all that was about to change. Although the steam engine was first invented in 1769 by James Watt, for decades his monopoly had prevented significant development and kept prices high. It was only in the nineteenth century that the real impact of steam would be fully felt.
And what an impact. Steam changed everything. It was faster, more powerful, and could work independently of natural power sources, such as water.
It brought rapid change as town and villages grew at a fast rate. This caused issues such as poor housing conditions, long working hours, the ravages of infectious disease and premature death.
Although the Industrial Revolution did bring prosperity in some areas, it caused deprivation in others. In the poorer quarters of Britain's larger cities almost 1 in 5 children born in the 1830s and 40s had died by the age of five.
The main causes of death were polluted drinking water, damp and tuberculosis, which claimed between 60,000 and 70,000 lives in each decade of Victoria's reign.
Politics At the beginning of Victoria's reign, about a fifth of adult males were entitled to vote. That proportion increased, through parliamentary reform acts passed in 1867 and 1884, to one-third and two-thirds respectively.
No women could legally vote in parliamentary elections until almost 18 years after Victoria's death - and the queen herself was no suffragist. Women did, however, play an increasingly influential role both in locally-elected school and poor law boards and in local government from the 1870s onwards.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/victorians/launch_gms_cotton_millionaire.shtml Women's work Many young people, especially young women,
migrated to towns and cities in search of work as the possibilities of agricultural employment declined.
Although the male breadwinner wage was increasingly regarded as the ideal and even the norm, in practice many households were dependent upon female earnings, especially those households run by widows.
As the mid-Victorian boom got underway the demand for female and juvenile labour expanded, particularly where new technologies or patterns of work were resented by skilled men. Cheap female and immigrant labour was often used to undercut male workers.