Queen Victoria came to the throne at the age of 18 in 1837. Her very long reign made her a figurehead and “Victorian” is the adjective applied to all element of it. She married her cousin, the Prince Albert and they had nine children. Their modest family’s lifestyle made the empress the symbol of the family and respectability, two values in contrast with the protestant religion.
In that period the Whigs made same laws which kept them in power and avoided revolution. In fact, they reformed some social and economic bad conditions, especially of workers. At that time, in England, in particular in London were born the industrial town, created around the mines of cool called “slumb” or “Cocketown” by Dickens. There, poor people lived in a very bad hygienic conditions and most of the, died prematurely. So, this reform prevented children from being employed more than 48 hours a week and limited working hours to ten a day for all workers. At the same time were created the “Workhouses”, unpleasant places but where poor people and homeless could stay, eat and sleep in exchanged to their work and exploitation. In this way poors could help themselves: self-help was considered very important especially in a puritanical society of self-made men.
Although Britain avoided revolution during these years, there were still political crises because the middle class resented the dominance of land and agriculture in government and wanted more free trades. The Prime Minister was forced to free the price of corn and thanks to that British farming had its Golden Age and no competition with other Europe countries, while more and more people became urbanized. Steam ships, the clippers, carried half of the world’s trade: British had a great market in which to sell their manufactured good, but they exported also people like servants, soldiers to administer the colony, prisoners and engineers and doctors.The Victorians were great moralizers probably because they faced numerous problems, so they felt obligated to advocated some values which offered them solutions or escapes. This values reflected not the world as they saw it, but ad they would have liked it to be. In an age which believed in progress, it seemed natural to believe that material progress would emerge from hard work and to insist on the sense of duty. Schools placed emphasis on punctuality and a good behavior was generally rewarded by the gift of books. These values were shared by all strata of society though they were refined and given their essential Victorian form by the upper classes.
The idea of respectability distinguished the middle from the lower classes: it implied the possession of good manners, the ownership of a comfortable house with servants, regular attendance at church and charitable activity. Philanthropy addressed itself to every kind of poverty: to stray children, fallen women and absorbed the energies of thousands of Victorians for which good deeds marks out an outstanding personality.
The family was patriarchal where the position of the husband was dominant: his role was imposed by the divine providence and it was equally incumbent on the women to obey to him, but this is not to deny the key role of mothers in children’s education. The condition of women was of subservience and, in a society with an intense concern for female chastity, the “lost women” faced enormous difficulties because they cast aside the role expected of them, for example single women with a child suffered the worst of society’s punishment: they were exiled.
In the late 19th century expressions of civic pride and national fervour were frequent among the British. Patriotism was deeply influenced by ideas of racial superiority in fact, British started to accept that they stood supreme and that they have to lead their superior way of life, institutions, laws, politic throughout the world. This attitude, a kind of nationalism, came to be called Jingoism.