Victorian Era - Fashion, Morality, The Condition of Women

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The Victorian era of the United Kingdom marked the height of the British Industrial Revolution and the apex of the British Empire. Although commonly used to refer to the period of Queen Victoria's rule between 1837 and 1901, scholars debate whether the Victorian period--as defined by a variety of sensibilities and political concerns that have come to be associated with the Victorians--actually begins with the passage of Reform Act 1832. The era was preceded by the Regency era and succeeded by the Edwardian period. The latter half of the Victorian era roughly coincided with the first portion of the Belle Epoque era of continental Europe and other non-English speaking countries.
Victorian Period 
One of the most important passages of the history of Britain is the Victorian Period. Queen Victoria (1819-1901) was the first English monarch to see her name given to the period of her reign whilst still alive. The Victorian Period revolves around the political career of Queen Victoria and it started with her coronation in 1837. Many historians opine that the period should be named "Albertine", after the name of Prince Albert whom Victoria married in 1840. It was actually his rectitude that set the tone of the era. 
Though he did not live long (died in December, 1861), his philosophy was sacrosanct to Victoria and his wishes and way of life continued long after his death till 1901. There are some other historians who argue that the Victorian age actually begun in 1832 with the passage of the Reform Act 1832. The Victorian Period was preceded by the Regency Period and succeeded by the Edwardian period.
The Age was characterized by impetus change and developments in every sphere of life- from science and technology to medicine, from population, culture and literature to architecture; the period saw the beginning of a new economic dawn as a result of the Industrial Revolution. These rapid developments and transformations deeply influenced the British society in particular and the whole humanity in general. The Victorian Age also saw the emergence of a new literature that was more concerned with social reforms. 
Queen Victoria had the longest reign in British history, and the cultural, political, economic, industrial and scientific changes that occurred during her reign were remarkable. When Victoria ascended to the throne, Britain was primarily agrarian and rural (though it was even then the most industrialised country in the world); upon her death, the country was highly industrialised and connected by an expansive railway network. 
Historical background
The term Victorian has acquired a range of connotations, including that of a particularly strict set of moral standards, which are often applied hypocritically. This stems from the image of Queen Victoria--and her husband, Prince Albert, perhaps even more so--as innocents, unaware of the private habits of many of her respectable subjects; this particularly relates to their sex lives. This image is mistaken: Victoria's attitude toward sexual morality was a consequence of her knowledge of the corrosive effect of the loose morals of the aristocracy in earlier reigns upon the public's respect for the nobility and the Crown. The Prince Consort as a young child had experienced the pain of his parents' divorce after they were involved in public sexual scandals. Young Prince Albert's mother had then left his family home and she died shortly thereafter.
Two hundred years earlier the Puritan republican movement, which led to the installment of Oliver Cromwell, had temporarily overthrown the British monarchy. During England's years as a republic, the law imposed a strict moral code on the people (even abolishing Christmas as too indulgent of the sensual pleasures).
When the monarchy was restored, a period of loose living and debauchery appeared to be a reaction to the earlier repression. two social forces of Puritanism and libertinism continued to motivate the collective psyche of Great Britain from the restoration onward. This was particularly significant in the public perceptions of the later Hanoverian monarchs who immediately preceded Queen Victoria. For instance, her uncle George IV was commonly perceived as a pleasure-seeking playboy, whose conduct in office was the cause of much scandal. By the time of Victoria, the interplay between high cultured morals and low vulgarity was thoroughly embedded in British culture.
Politics and Ideology
Politics was very important to people of the Victorian Age. As in science and technology, the Victorians also created host of important innovations and changes in the field of ideology, politics and society. New ideas like democracy, liberalism, socialism, labour unions, Marxism, feminism and other modern movements that were to change the whole world in future, took form during this period. Darwin, Marx, Freud and other great thinkers not only experimented with modern social problems but they also attempted to find solutions to them. The Victorians were liberal in their hearts and wanted to spread their ideas throughout the British Empire.
The era is famous for great explorations and expansion of the British Empire in large areas of Asia and Africa. The British Navy went virtually unchallenged in whole of nineteenth century. But queen Victoria remained bothered about the Irish problem throughout her reign and faced humiliation as well failure at the Boer War.
Fashion
The term "Victorian fashion" refers to fashion in clothing in the Victorian era, or the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). It is strictly used only with regard to the United Kingdom and its colonies, but is often used loosely to refer to Western fashions of the period. It may also refer to a supposedly unified style in clothing, home decor, manners, and morals, or a culture, said to be prevalent in the West during this period.
Those who have studied the period in detail would protest vacuous generalizations. Clothing, decor, manners, and morals varied from year to year, country to country, and class to class. Whether or not there is a style or unified culture connecting a Scottish fisherwoman, for example, and an aristocratic London lady, might well be debated.


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