Conduct Books in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism: English Behavioral Literature: Defining A Middle Class - Essay

Patricia Branca (essay date 1975)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Branca, Patricia. “Do's and Don'ts for the Mistress of the House.” In Silent Sisterhood: Middle-Class Women in the Victorian Home, pp. 22-37. Pittsburgh, Pa.: Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1975.

[In the following essay, Branca discusses English Victorian conduct books, suggesting that they were critical in tone; they implied that women were impractical and under-skilled due to their overly “ornamental” education and they denigrated the social aspirations of middle-class women.]

As mistress of the house, the middle-class woman gained a new position in society. Her personal influence grew greatly, as overnight she became an important decision-maker in...

(The entire section is 6651 words.)

Elizabeth Langland (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Langland, Elizabeth. “Material Angels: Wings of Clay.” In Nobody's Angels: Middle-Class Women and Domestic Ideology in Victorian Culture, pp. 24-61. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1995.

[In the following excerpt, Langland maintains that English Victorian etiquette primarily provided a means for displaying wealth and social status, for delineating social class, and for preventing the social advancement of undesirables.]

Victorian etiquette manuals, management guides, and charitable treatises cannot be taken as straightforward accounts of middle-class life: these nonliterary materials did not simply reflect a “real” historical subject but helped...

(The entire section is 8557 words.)