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Single Women in Victorian England - Essay Example

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Footnotes should be used in the following style: Name of Author, Title of Work, Publication Place, Publisher, Date of Publication, Page Number. For example: Gleadle, K. British Women in the Nineteenth Century, New York: Palgrave: 2001, p. 38-39.
The society of Victorian England was, as we know, very class-riven…
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Single Women in Victorian England
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Single Women in Victorian England

Download file to see previous pages... The lives and fortunes of single women in Victorian England.

The society of Victorian England was, as we know, very class-riven. Thus the lives and fortunes of single women in that society depended largely on the class they were born into and on the resources available to them. Some, like Mary Carpenter, were fortunate in those resources.1 As H Schupf points out, 'Traditionally, the options available to the middle-class spinster without resources were commonly limited to governessing or authorship; but for those who were both financially independent and unencumbered by relatives, there existed the additional possibility of charitable work.'2
Clearly, for the working classes, the situation was quite different. Yet unlike their middle-class and upper class counterparts, working-class women had job opportunities as domestic servants and in factories and, though both these occupations were lowly paid and demanding. As Jeffreys writes, 'unmarried women from the working class did have access to work and the vast majority of them were absorbed in the domestic servant industry which relied almost entirely on unmarried women.'3 Becoming a domestic servant had its appeal for many young women of the time, as they were thus enabled to break free from the immediate constraints of their background: 'The discomfort of poor, overcrowded homes and the problems of family life, beset by high birth rates, high mortality rates, and the emigration of men overseas, may have rendered domestic service in more prosperous houses [initially at least] an attractive alternative'.4 Attractive, perhaps, but not always reliable, for such work was casual and often seasonal, depending as it did on the shifts and movements of the upper classes.
Not...
Clearly, for the working classes, the situation was quite different. Yet unlike their middle-class and upper class counterparts, working-class women had job opportunities as domestic servants and in factories and, though both these occupations were lowly paid and demanding. As Jeffreys writes, 'unmarried women from the working class did have access to work and the vast majority of them were absorbed in the domestic servant industry which relied almost entirely on unmarried women.'3 Becoming a domestic servant had its appeal for many young women of the time, as they were thus enabled to break free from the immediate constraints of their background: 'The discomfort of poor, overcrowded homes and the problems of family life, beset by high birth rates, high mortality rates, and the emigration of men overseas, may have rendered domestic service in more prosperous houses [initially at least] an attractive alternative'.4 Attractive, perhaps, but not always reliable, for such work was casual and often seasonal, depending as it did on the shifts and movements of the upper classes.
Not surprisingly, working-class single women were more sexually vulnerab ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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