Life in the Late Victorian Age Society in the time of Oscar Wilde Mr. Ambrose English 10 Victorian Life • Victorian life was relatively structured. • Social classes were well-defined. – Presumably all individuals accepted their station in life and were happy within their level of society. – When an individual did move outside his/her class, he/she was generally shunned. – Even if you earned money, you would not necessarily be accepted by upper social strata. Victorian Society • Victorian society was democratic, but featured many more restrictions than modern America. • Lower classes actually had more freedom. – People perceived the lower class as merely existing to serve higher classes. – Society frequently ignored them. Young Men in the Victorian Age • Young men in the upper classes received an education, but spent much of their life in leisure pursuits. • First sons would inherit the family wealth, and had little to worry about. • Second and subsequent sons could choose to go into the service (army) or to become a clergyman. – These were respectable positions, but lower on the social scale. Young Women in the Victorian Age • They were encouraged to marry. • Sometimes had an inheritance, but rarely controlled their own finances. • Ladies were permitted to enjoy pleasurable pursuits: parties, balls (galas), horseback riding, croquet. • They were allowed to go to the beach, but they would need to wear very conservative bathing suits… Victorian Bathing Suits Young Girls in the Victorian Age • Young girls were taught to supervise a household. • Daily routine included consulting with housekeeper and cook and planning meals. • Free time activities: – Painting china, needlework, music, literature Four O’Clock Tea Time • A daily routine that became a tradition. • Everyone stopped all activities for tea time. – Analogous to a siesta in Europe, South America, and Central America. • Tea was usually poured from a silver or china tea pot. • Sandwiches and sweets (biscuits, tarts) were served. • An important social interruption. • Dinner was not usually served until 8:00 pm. Tea Time in America • Do you believe a tradition like this would have any place or advantage in contemporary America? • Is tea time observed anywhere on this continent? • Do Americans have a substitute for this custom? Host your own Tea Time • For extra credit, you can host your own tea time! • Bring in a photo and a short description of your event. • Good times! Evening Entertainment • In the evening, people during the Victorian era usually watched Family Guy on their televisions. Evening Entertainment • J/K • Evenings included a formal dinner (8 PM). • Families then might move into the Drawing Room to enjoy musical entertainment, provided by younger girls in the family. • Gentlemen might retire to play billiards. • On festive occasions, families might play games or have dances at the country estate. Homes in the Victorian Era • Some members of the upper class kept an apartment “in town” (London) • If they did not own there, they rented during the “season” so that the young girls could be presented to society and the young men could find brides. • These apartments would be called “flats,” which is the English word for “floor.” After the Victorian Era • For the upper classes, this style of living continued until WWII. • After WWII, social structures underwent great changes and the balance of power among nations shifted. • Despite changes in home life and industry, the Victorian tradition of tea time can still be enjoyed in homes, hotels, and parks.