• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Victorian moral values applied equally to all. Discuss this statement in relation to the lives of women as described in mid-Victorian texts.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

'Victorian moral values applied equally to all.' Discuss this statement in relation to the lives of women as described in mid-Victorian texts. Moral values can be defined as the principles or standards shared by a social group as to what constitutes appropriate behavior. What were the moral expectations of the British society during Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901) and did they affect everyone's lives in the same way? This essay will explore this question by analyzing the lives of Victorian women, drawing on the works of two prominent and influential thinkers of the time: John Ruskin and John Stuart Mill. John Ruskin, in addition to being an art critic, also produced writings dealing with the social issues of his time. In his book Sesame and Lilies, 1865 (Ruskin, p.58), he not only describes how the ideal Victorian woman should be, but also urges his female audience to abandon their trivial pursuits and actively apply themselves for the betterment of society. ...read more.

Middle

One could perhaps argue that Ruskin was purposefully embellishing the feminine role and qualities, not only to rally his female audience into action, but also to create a more balanced gender imagery. He might have felt that the woman's passive attributes did not measure up well against the image of the man who actively engages with the outside world. However, once the flowery language is stripped away, we are left with a decidedly less inspiring portrait: a virtuous, obedient wife whose is required to mind her home and husband and undertake charitable activities in her free time. If Ruskin's is an idealized account of womanhood, then we must turn our attention to the writings of John Stuart Mill to get a dose of reality. In Chapter II of his controversial essay The Subjection of Women, 1869 (Mill, p.66), he highlights the extremely circumspect legal standing of married women and in hopes of restoring some justice to the situation, advocates granting women the right to choose whom they marry. ...read more.

Conclusion

In short, legislation saw to it that a woman was utterly subservient to her husband and she had to count on his compassion and goodwill to receive a decent and fair treatment. Taken together, the accounts of Ruskin and Mill provide a vivid picture of what it must have been like to be a woman in the Victorian era. Despite Ruskin's plea to women to do more within their capacity, the foregoing evidence makes clear that this capacity was entirely different than a man's and confined by rigid boundaries brought about both by social norms and the rule of law. Although some women from privileged backgrounds might have had more legal freedom, society would have still seen to it that they conformed to the 'ideal' values of domesticity, obedience and dependence. In conclusion, because Victorian society believed that men and women were inherently different in character, they subjected women to different moral standards than men and this attitude was also reflected in the laws governing women's rights. At least with respect to gender realities in Victorian England, it would be a great oversimplification to claim that moral values applied equally to all. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 1800-1899 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree 1800-1899 essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    To what extent did the idea of a separate sphere(TM) of life for women ...

    4 star(s)

    household or the neighbours on her.'23 A seemingly insignificant connective factor was that the increased popularity of cycling led to a change in woman's fashion. 'The substitution of knickers for thick petticoats...came about in 1890...it began cautiously, the earliest knickers being long and frilled at the bottom; so that if

  2. Did Kaiser Wilhelm II at any time exercise real power?

    In many other aspects of foreign policy, Kaiser gave power to his chosen foreign ministers whom he trusted and again appeared to take a step back from power. B´┐Żlow, Alfred von Kiderlen-Waechter and Gottlieb von Jagow all had terms in the foreign office under the Kaiser and he rarely exercised

  1. Why did the 'constitutional, gradualist route' of Gladstone's Liberal ministries fail to achieve his ...

    Hammond has remarked, "Gladstone found in the nationalist spirit in revolt in Ireland something akin to the Italian movement."8When Russel had despatched his famous telegram to Hudson in Turin in 1860, Gladstone was deeply affected by the Austrian reply, which compared their actions in Italy with Britain's action in Ireland.

  2. Liberal Divisions and the 1870 Education Act

    On 12 June - with the fate of the bill still uncertain - Forster submitted to Gladstone a memo of the rivalling amendments that had been proposed by the representatives of the many sections of the Liberal Party. Jacob Bright, Member for Manchester favoured limiting 'the rights of discretion given

  1. Book review- Harriet Ann Jacobs autobiography "Incidents in the life of a slave girl"

    174) On the contrary, she was relatively well-treated. She had the opportunity of learning to read and write with her first mistress, which was extremely rare among slaves, work inside the house of her second master, Dr. Flint -in contrast of other workers outside at diverse plantations.

  2. The hierarchical society that was present in the American South was deeply rooted in ...

    In Louisiana, the belief in African voodoo flourished with rituals, storytelling and songs of freedom, as Eudora Welty puts it, ?southerners loved a good tale... {Slaves were} history tracers and debaters?[8]. This time in the south was greatly important to slaves, these customs and beliefs allowed slaves, if only temporarily

  1. Total War is as much a myth as total victory or total defeat - ...

    So it will be today.? Goebbels is not letting the birth of Modern Warfare have an influence; he is not interested in weapons or technology, but securing his people into the ideology that they must be retained in. Black[9] (2006 p.

  2. It didnt happen here. Why didnt socialism prosper in the USA in the period ...

    Many of the most successful businessmen of the day, who justified there wealth as the product of ?Social Darwinism? [60]`, were maligned by many as ?Robber Barons? who profited through immoral or illegal work practices and who exploited employees. While these sentiments were reflected in increasing union membership during the

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work