British History 2:
From the French Revolution to World War II
Topic: "Majesties and Royal Highnesses"
by Laura Cenicola & Mareike Aumann
- During the Victorian area lots of bias coexisted next to eachother which makes the Victorian Era seem like an era of many contradictions today. Social movements for example, which were concerned with the improvement of the public morals, existed next to a class system which imposed harsh living conditions on many people. Furthermore dignity and restraint coexisted with prostitution and child labour. Advances in science, medicine and technological knowledge were opposed to strict moral standards and prudery.
- Victoria's and Albert's opinion on morality were effected by the public's perception of monarchy. Before Victoria took the throne the popularity of the Royal Family had suffered enormously by the escapades of George IV. Albert himself, in addition to that had suffered from the divorce of his parents, who had both been involved in public sexual scandals. The queen and her husband never caused any scandals and proofed to be a rather moral couple, living a happy marriage.
- As already mentioned the Victorian Era was an era of many contradictions. Victorian etiquette is often confused with a lack of knowledge today, as well as with prudery and prepression. People however simply had a different understanding of appropriateness and modesty. Therefore they would refer to 'limbs' instead of 'arms' or 'legs' in mixed company. Though verbal and written communictaion about emotions and especially sexual feelings were discussed in the language of the flowers, explicit erotica writings out of that time do exist. Furthermore even the Queen enjoyed to draw and male nude figure drawings. Consequently the Victorian Era certainly was different to the time we live in but it was not necessarily prude and repressive.
- The saying 'spare the rod and spoil the child' means that a child can only become a good and moral adult if it receives punishment physically or otherwhise for any wrongdoing. The parents of the Victorian time thought of the upbringing of their children as their most important task and believed in the saying by all means. Children were taught their place and to always act respectful and morally acceptable. Boys were expected to work hard while for girls it was most importantly to stay home and marry early.
- The Great Exhibition of 1851 was very important for the United Kingdom, because it symbolized its industrial, military and economical superiority. The newest technological achievements of the Empire and its colonies were presented there to people coming from all over Britain and other European nations. The most important exhibit was the Crystal Palace, which housed the exhibition. It was a special construction, designed by Joseph Paxton, a huge iron goliath built out of steal and over a million feet of glass.