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Leisure in Victorian and Edwardian England - Essay Example

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This paper shall analyse the emergence of the novel as the main form of literature during the Victorian era and its consolidation in later ages, including the Edwardian era. Apart from this, the emergence of department stores and their significance in the new disposition shall also be analysed. …
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Leisure in Victorian and Edwardian England
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Download file to see previous pages Travel and tourism as a form of entertainment shall also be looked into. The perspective that shall inform these readings shall be that of class and its ramifications, its importance in shaping the consciousness of a society and communities within it.  Leisure in the Victorian and Edwardian Eras Forms of leisure in most societies are an important indicator of the class identities of the people who practice them. Access to certain forms of leisure is denied to people of the lower classes and this serves to demarcate them from the upper classes. In popular representations of the Victorian and the Edwardian eras, this demarcation is clear and is used, on most occasions to distinguish between the upper and lower classes. Conversely, this also affects the way the class consciousness of a particular community is formed. The activities of leisure that a community indulges itself in is something that is formed by its class consciousness, but at the same time, also forms the class consciousness of that community. The Victorian and Edwardian eras in England were marked by an opulence that was based on the wealth earned through the imperial endeavours of the British state. This paper shall seek to analyse the development of the consciousness of communities belonging to different classes, through an analysis of different social institutions. The different institutions shall be analysed in different paragraphs. The rise of the novel as the main form of entertainment during the Victorian age says a lot about the changing social structures of this age. Social mobility was a major feature of the Victorian age. This came about as a result of the increase in trade during this age and the dismantling of the social hierarchies that privileged the gentry, to a certain extent. This was partially a result of the French revolution that questioned the sanctity of these class-relations (Hobsbawm). This mobility gets reflected in the features of the novel of this period. Not only was the novel considered a means of entertainment for the lower and the middle classes, they were also considered as the suitable form of entertainment for women, thus being a proof of the social turmoil that was characteristic of the period. The novels of this period showcased the rise of men and women from positions of social inferiority to high ranks within the society. This was a result of the readership of the novel which consisted mainly of the emergent bourgeoisie and also the larger context of the novel, the upwardly mobile lower and middle classes of England. For instance, in Jane Austen’s famous work, Pride and Prejudice, apart from the heroine’s rise from a lower position in the society to that of a high ranking lady, it is also interesting to note that case of the Bingleys. Having acquired wealth through trade and commerce, Mr. Bingley is an extremely eligible bachelor and a nice ‘catch’ even for the Bennets, who essentially belong to the aristocracy. The social mobility of Mr. Bingley is one of the most interesting features of this book and forms a part of its significance for a study of the Victorian age (Austen). Not only does the novel talk about social mobility, it also influenced the way people thought about themselves and their position on the social ladder. The ideas given in novels also resulted in a lot of people of the middle classes actively trying to improve their lot. The situation was thus, one where the emergence of the novel influenced the bourgeoisie and vice-versa. This proves what leisure historians like J.A. Mangan has argued, where they talk of the “ways in which differential types of leisure and the values embodied in them are linked to social ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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