The Impact of Social Class Divisions on the Women of Victorian England

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The Impact of Social Class Divisions on the Women of Victorian England Two hundred years ago, during the reign of Queen Victoria in England, the social barriers of the Victorian class system firmly defined the roles of women. The families of Victorian England were divided into four distinct classes: the Nobility or Gentry Class, the Middle Class, the Upper Working Class, and lastly, the Lower Working class . The women of these classes each had their own traditional responsibilities. The specifics of each woman’s role were varied by the status of her family. Women were expected to adhere to the appropriate conventions according to their place in the social order . For women in Victorian England their lives were regulated by these rules and regulations, which stressed obedience, loyalty, and respect. The highest social class in Victorian England was the Nobility or Gentry class. The members of this class were those who inherited their land, titles, and wealth . Popular opinion at the time asserted that the noble class women led lives of lavish luxury and wedded bliss. "Ladies were ladies in those days; they did not do things themselves, they told others what to do and how to do it." It is apparent as to how this notion that the women of the noble class led lives of fortune. Social parties and balls were common festivities, which these women regularly attended. For many, dancing was a favorite pastime. To an outsider, it seemed that a lady of the gentry class had nothing short of an enviable existence. The lavish way of life these women exhibited was outwardly apparent in the fashions of the time . Noble class women were adorned in ornate dresses, extravagant jewels, and the finest accessories. The best way to describe the look of upper class women in Victorian England is to say that she looked like a porcelain doll . However, the lives of these women were not as easy as it may have seemed. In retrospect, their roles, although seemingly wonderful, were actually oppressive. They were taught to be obedient and loyal to their husbands . Their opinions were devalued, and they were thought of as nothing more than an accessory to their husbands. Furthermore, there was little security in terms of financial stability . Land, titles, and money were inherited by the closest male relative; typically the older son, but if there was no older son then the estate would go to a more distant relation.

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