VICTORIAN CULTURE

I. Victorian Culture: Private Transformation, Public Reform (Named after Queen vjctona ; 1837-1901) A. Problems of the Market 1 . Changes in the market caused a good deal of anxiety 2. Surface impression that Americans are enormously optimistic about the state of the U. S. a. Laying beneath bragging is a high level of insecurity 1 . Uneasy and afraid of aspects of the market revolution a. Fear of social chaos 1. Market society of struggling individuals creates chaotic society of self-interest b. Fear of one another 1. In a market, how do you trust anyone 2. “The Confidence Man” becomes omewhat of a legendary figure a.

Herman Melville publishes book by this title in 1857 c. Fear of the loss of moral values 1. In a market, values such as social gain and material advancement paramount 2. Does anything but money have value? 3. Loss of morals 3. By 1830s middle and upper class Americans uneasy about cultural ramifications of the market a. Find a cultural system labeled Victorianism 1 . Middle-class ideal; explicitly designed to counteract fears 2. Self-control and domesticity B. The Domestic Ideal 1 . Victorians first create domesticity a. Vision of American home as a refuge or haven from public apitalist world b. Home dominated by American women 1 .

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Domain of wives and mothers 2. Both practically and morally d. Implicit separation of public and private different from earlier periods 1. Public is for men; private is for women e. Examples 1 . Catherine Beecher’s Treatise on Domestic Economy, 1841 a. Bible for middle-class women D Argues tnat moral center 0T American home US. Is In tne 1 . Should create national ethic of domestic virtue a. Deference, counteract brutal public competition 2. Responsibility of American women 3. (Read excerpt below) 2. A. J. Downing’s Victorian Cottage Residences . Published in domestic magazines b. Put these into book in 1842 c.

Talked of domestic beautification 1. Both physical and mental 2. Need to be arranged to be warm; comfortable places for family intimacy d. Argues that there is a larger social responsibility connected to this for the purpose of social order 3. Celebration of Xmas with a tree and Santa Claus part of Victorian emphasis on the home C. Self-Control 1 . Written injunctions to exercise self-control a. In a market, demand for success on the individual 1 . Victorians talk about inner direction 2. Fear society of cutthroats . To be a good citizen you need to repress desires 1. “Advice Literature” had been written for men and women 2.

Focus on sex; tell men to squelch sexual appetite a. Connected to work; if you expend energy chasing women your work will fail 3. Example a. Sylvester Graham wrote advice literature 1 . Diet reformers; invented Graham cracker 2. Vegetarian wrote on sexual abstinence a. Insists it is necessary for unmarried man b. Also argues that even after marriage they should limit to 12 times a year 4. For women message is similar a. Women staying in home is part of self-control b. Biggest temptation for females was fashion 1 . Don’t give in to temptations of fashion 2 Modest Ideal 0T Deauty emerges c.

Sexually, moral women seen as not having interest in sex 1. Warnings not to succumb to sexuality 2. Cannot mention arms and legs; only limbs d. Examples 1 . Godey’s Lady’s Book 2. European male visiting Victorian parlor drinking tea a. Notices grand piano with trouser legs to cover piano legs 3. The Lady’s Book is best selling magazine a. Domestic ideology; moral center of the home, etc… e. Child rearing advice 1. Instill notion of self-control in children 2. Horace Bushnell’s Christian Nurture (1847) a. Argues need for fostering selfcontrol D. The Reform Impulse 1. Began around the end of the War of 1812 2.

Crusades against consumption of liquor, violence, sexual impropriety, bad behavior 3. Reformers talked about need for reform in all these different areas 4. Sources a. Second Great Awakening 1 . Movements are expressions of morality; come from middle-class 2. Aimed at the South and the working classes 3. Victorian crusade for social control 4. The sisterhood of reforms 5. Prison reform a. Suggest a new system b. Institutions to remove them from ociety totally and rehabilitate them c. Different prison systems 1 . Auburn System (NY) (1820s) a. Steep alone; put into workshops during the day; forbidden to converse 2.

Pennsylvania System (1820s) a. Totally isolated; 24 hours 6 Notion 0T Internallzlng morallty to acnleve self-control 7. Temperance reform a. Want to decrease consumption b. American Society for the Promotion of Temperance (1826) c. Consumption was a visible sign of losing self-control d. Temperance literature 1. Ten Nights in a Barroom, 1854, T. s. Arthur a. Fictional tale with moral lesson 1 . Second only to Uncle Tom’s Cabin in sales for the 19th Century b. Family life amidst alcohol consumption c. Drunken father kills daughter e. Aimed at working class people 1 . Consumption decreases efficiency 8.

School Reform a. Public school movement 1. Horace Mann was state superintendent of schools in Mass. 2. Wanted to promote an American educated citizenry a. To make democracy work 3. Catharine Beecher pushes for women as teachers due to role as moral protectors; women hired in large numbers (also cheaper) 3. Also talks about shaping certain habits (discipline, punctuallty, soorlety) 4. Aimed at children of working eople; creating selfcontrol 9. Abolitionism a. By 1830s and 40s abolition becomes movement that sweeps the field of reform movements 1. William Lloyd Garrison demands immediate abolition b.

Not opposed for equality reasons, but instead they believed slavery was a contradiction of Victorianism; a temptation and an enemy of the domestic ideal 1 . Violated the work ethic E. The Total Institution 1. Bringing reform to industry 2. Lowell Mill constructed in 1822 3. Wants to make a profit but also has a moral dimension a. Go into country side to get young women 1. Wants upright and moral atmosphere . Dormitories are built with a Victorian matron c. Weekly schedule of moral instruction d. Compulsory chapel attendance e. Funds newspaper titled “Lowell Offering” 1 . Women write virtues of morality 4.

Trying to create a total institution Excerpt from Beecher’s Treatise: The woman, who is rearing a family of children; the woman, woman who labors in the schoolroom; the woman, who, in her retired chamber, earns, with her needle, the mite, which contributes to the intellectual and moral elevation of her Country; even the humble domestic, whose example and influence may he moulding did forming oung minds, while her faithful services sustain a prosperous domestic state; each and all may be animated by the consciousness that they are agents in accomplishing the greatest work that ever was committed to human responsibility.

It is the building of a glorious temple whose base shall be coextensive with the bounds of the earth, whose summit shall pierce the skies, whose splendor shall beam on all lands, and those who hew the lowliest stone, as much as those who carve the highest capital, will be equally honored, when its top-stone shall be laid, with new rejoicings of the morning stars, and shoutings of the sons of God.

Jesse
from Nandarnold

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