Describe the social background of Victorian era in 19th century in England

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Victorian era is considered to extend from 1837-1901 during the reign of Queen Victoria.  This era is characterized by the great expansion of the British Empire, a period also that was one of extended peace, interrupted only by the Crimean War and the conflicts of the Zanzibar and Boer wars.  In English society there was a growing liberalism which brought about social reforms, reforms in which author Charles Dickens great involved himself.

The family was considered of paramount importance during the Victorian Age.  Women's main purpose in life was to find a husband and to manage domestic affairs; while doing so, they were completely repressed by their husbands. In short, the society was clearly patriarchal.  Religious faith was also paramount; there was an exaggerated morality as well as an exaggerated adherence to form and manners.  With the Industrial Revolution coming, there was also an emergence of people into the burgeoning middle class, a class that aspired to raise itself to that of the upper class because social ranking was so important.  This admiration of a rather frivolous aristocracy is one of the attitudes that Dickens often satrizes in his works such as Great Expectations

is00 | Student

Please go through the introductory paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens to get the answer of your question. It begins--

'It was the best of times,it was the worst of times------------'

Secondly,Tennyson's In memoriam will provide you a few unique Quotes on the Topic--such as

"Man for the field,women for the hearth;

Man to till and for the needle she:

Man to command and women to obey

-----All else confusion.

Then again,Thomas Hardy's novels,poems and stories like -----Tess,Return of the Native,The Darkling Thrush,The Withered Arm,The distracted Preacher etc. will give you the exact picture of the social background of the Victorian Era in England.