Brainstorm everything you know about the Victorian Era

Victorian Attitudes and Values
Queen Victoria (1819-1901) was the first English monarch to see her name given to the period
of her reign whilst still living. The Victorian Age was characterised by rapid change and
developments in nearly every sphere - from advances in medical, scientific and technological
knowledge to changes in population growth and location. Over time, this rapid transformation
deeply affected the country's mood: an age that began with a confidence and optimism leading
to economic boom and prosperity eventually gave way to uncertainty and doubt regarding
Britain's place in the world. Today we associate the nineteenth century with the Protestant
work ethic, family values, religious observation and institutional faith.
For the most part, nineteenth century families were large and patriarchal. They encouraged
hard work, respectability, social deference and religious conformity. While this view of
nineteenth century life was valid, it was frequently challenged by contemporaries. Women
were often portrayed as either Madonnas or whores, yet increasing educational and
employment opportunities gave many a role outside the family.
During the Victorian heyday, work and play expanded dramatically. The national railway
network stimulated travel and leisure opportunities for all, so that by the 1870s, visits to
seaside resorts, race meetings and football matches could be enjoyed by many of this now
largely urban society. Increasing literacy stimulated growth in popular journalism and the
ascendancy of the novel as the most powerful popular icon.
Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary states:
MOD'ESTY, n. [L. modestia.] That lowly temper which accompanies a moderate estimate of one's
own worth and importance. This temper when natural, springs in some measure from timidity, and
in young and inexperienced persons, is allied to bashfulness and diffidence. In persons who have
seen the world, and lost their natural timidity, modesty springs no less from principle than from
feeling, and is manifested by retiring, unobtrusive manners, assuming less to itself than others
are willing to yield, and conceding to others all due honor and respect, or even more than they
expect or require.
2. Modesty, as an act or series of acts, consists in humble, unobtrusive deportment, as opposed to
extreme boldness, forwardness, arrogance, presumption, audacity or impudence. Thus we say, the
petitioner urged his claims with modesty; the speaker addressed the audience with modesty.
3. Moderation; decency.
4. In females, modesty has the like character as in males; but the word is used also as
synonymous with chastity, or purity of manners. In this sense, modesty results from purity of
mind, or from the fear of disgrace and ignominy fortified by education and principle. Unaffected
modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of their
Web Research Questions
1. What was life like for a middle class family during the Victorian Era?
2. What were some of the cultural beliefs, attitudes, or values at the time?
3. What kind of education would most middle class children receive (be sure to mention any
distinctions between boys and girls)?
4. What occupational choices were available for middle class men and women?
5. What role did politics, religion, or science play in most middle class families?
6. What would a typical middle-class family do for entertainment?
Art and literature
Law and justice
Music and dance
Role of women