The actions of Victorians upon a death is a intricate web of rituals and etiquette. In Vanity Fair, William Thackeray gives modern readers a brief glimpse into deep mourning through Amelia Sedley-Osborne.
The idea of deep mourning was introduced by Queen Victoria upon the death of her husband, King Albert, who died of typhoid in 1861. At that time and for forty years after(the time of her death), the Queen mourned the loss of her beloved husband. She commanded her court to dress in mourning with her for the first three years post-mortem. Because of the Queen's extreme actions, the Victorians elected to mimic her ethics. After her death, the world came out of mourning and began to change fashion, which began the Edwardian Period.
Death was a commonplace occurrence in the Victorian Age. "Three of every twenty babies died before their first birthday, and those who survived infancy had a life expectancy of only forty-two years" (Douglas) Death would take place most often in the home. When a death occurs, the entire house stops and takes up deep mourning. Windows are closed. Clocks are stopped. Mirrors were covered. Mirrors were covered because it was believed that a mirror, or reflective surface, could because trapped in it. Bodies would be stored in homes until they were buried. Poor families in their small houses would have to kept the dead in the same quarters as the living until the time of the funeral had arrived. Even children were not sheltered from the deaths around them. They were instructed at all ages on the meaning of death and its rituals. As the Industrial Revolution developed, Middle Class and proper etiquette were defined. Rules and regulations of what was proper was decided...
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"Death: the Last Taboo." Victorian Era. Australian Museum. 2004.
Douglas, Anne. Victorian Mourning Customs. Pagewise, Inc. 2002
Hell, Kyshah. "Victorian Mourning Garb." Morbid Outlook.
"Victorian Mourning." Webster Dictionary. 1931.
Weston, Pauline. Mourning Fashion History. Fashion-era.
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