The Victorian era named for Queen Victoria, lasted about 64 years during 1837-1901. Described as the domestic age, a Victorian woman's life was centred on the respectability, motherhood and family. The Queen became an icon of the 19th century woman, by surrounding herself with her family in a warm and respectable home. Society believed and expected women to emulate this idea in every aspect of their lives by present a perfect picture of domesticity and motherhood.
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The Ideal Woman
Throughout Victorian society, the view of the women was one of piety. The ideal Victorian woman was one who was pious, never worked, married young, ran her home and cared for her husband and children. Adornment was only what a father or husband gave her. The ideal woman wore no make-up or displayed pleasure in anything except home, children and husband. Her role in society centred on getting married, having children and running a household. Victorian women were viewed as an "ornament of society" and subordinate to their husbands.
The Victorian woman had no legal rights until she was married. Then her rights as a married woman were the same as those of her children. She could not vote or own her own property. She could not own her checking or savings account. The Victorian view was that women did not have the intellect to handle such problems or to make decisions about money.
Managing a respectable home was the main purpose of a Victorian woman. Her duties would include organising, instructing and delegating to servants. She was expected to organise parties and dinners whereby she could provide the prestige and status to her husband. These parties were a way for her, as an obedient wife, to make it possible for him to establish new economically or politically important relationships.
Victorian society expected women to have children and be great mothers. It was believed that women as a pure and clean entity did not like sex. Although, she was not expected to like or request sex, having children was a requirement of her marriage. As a mother, she devoted time to her children's schooling and ensured they were in good health. She also had the role of nurse when one of the family members became ill.
The Victorian attitude was that a woman's education was to prepare her for her duties as a wife. Society thought it was unnecessary for women to attend colleges as her role was strictly a domestic one. Society also believed that the woman did not have the intellect or stamina for learning. She learnt history, geography, literature, drawing, dancing, music, embroidery, French and about household accounts from a governess or tutor at home. After marriage, it was her responsibility to improve herself on cultural activities.
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