The Victorian age was a complex and contradictory era: it was the age of progress, stability, great social reforms but was also characterized by poverty, injustice and social unrest. The Victorians want to mask the reality and promote a code of values based on personal duty, hard work, respectability, and charity. During this time it was very important to work hard to improve the society. The idea of being respected
distinguished the middle from the lower class. The idea of respectability was a mixture of morality and hypocrisy, severity and conformity to social standards. It meant possession of good manners, the ownership of a comfortable house with servants and carriage, regular attendance at the church, and charity activity. Philanthropy was a widespread phenomenon and turned to every kind of poverty: children, fallen women, and drunk men. The family was patriarchal: the husband was the authority and the key role of the woman was the education of children and the managing of the home. Victorian society was concerned with female chastity, and single women with a child were emarginated as "fallen women." Sexuality was generally repressed in its public and private forms, and this led to the denunciation of nudity in art and the rejection of words with sexual connotation from the daily vocabulary.

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