Victorian Ideas About Morality

Written by breann kanobi
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Victorian Ideas About Morality
Flowers often stood in as a substitute for adult language. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

The Victorian era was a time of chastity, religion and moral etiquette. People considered class important and worked hard to increase their social standing. Most people behaved prudishly and were expected to avoid any adult language or situations. Despite the attitude of the time, examples of sexual writing and paintings arose from the Victorian era.

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During the Victorian era, England lived under the Anglican church. The Bible was considered the foundation of moral behaviour and people took its words literally. Much education focused on religion and many games made use of religious themes and ideas. People in Victorian England believed that universal acceptance of religious beliefs would lead to the end of suffering and poverty. Science and religion were considered harmonious but any science that contradicted the Bible, such as the findings of Charles Darwin, were considered abhorrent and radical.


Chastity was one of the keys of Victorian morality. Men and women were not to use profane or suggestive language in mixed company. Even the word "leg" was substituted with the more neutral "limb." Women wore long dresses that went from their neck to the floor to avoid flaunting their body. They kept their hair in a bonnet. Premarital sex was considered immoral as was adultery or any public displays of affection. Homosexuality was considered illegal and people often used flowers as a euphemism for intimate regions and actions in writing.


The Victorian upper class put emphasis on the values of family heritage and history and believed that preserving the value of their line was key. They viewed themselves as protectors of society and believed it was their place to take care of society and defend traditions. As with Christianity, Victorian morality implied that people in an advantageous position must help their fellow man. The very rich saw no problem with lives of leisure. People in the middle and lower class believed that working hard would lead to wealth and prosperity.


Manners were considered critical to people of the Victorian era. Though much Victorian etiquette deals with basic manners, such as responding when someone speaks, others were more specific. People were expected to stand during introductions. It was considered rude to turn your back to another person or to move your gaze to another object. Emotional displays were considered rude and could lead to gossip or rumours. Men were chivalrous and opened doors for women.

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