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The 1800s: The Cultural Context

Mainstream culture
The family was ruled by the father and became the focus of Victorian middle class society and the value of the period: good manners, social and economic improvement, a sense of duty and respectability towards society.

Education
The upper and middle classes sent male children to expansive schools and to college to become the future ruling class.
Upper and middle-class girls were guarded by their parents till marriage and were educated at home by a governess. They read novels and learn singing and playing the piano as they role in life was to marry, have children and become the figured described in The Angel in the House (Patmore).
The spread of literacy had a strong impact on the cultural development of the age and culminated in the Education Act (1870) which provided primary education all over the country.

By the end of the century women’s position changed: there were school and colleges for women and they had new right to enter professions.

Books and the reading public
The spread of education caused a request of books. Some families had their own libraries and every member of the family read novels, included the servants. So novels became a favourite form of entertainment for the middle class.

Periodicals
The literacy caused the spread of newspapers, magazines and reviews. They were a form of entertainment and moral teaching for political, social, literary and philosophical.
Fictions were published as shot stories or serialised novels.

General trends
Victorian Age can be divided into two periods:
1. Up to the 1870s: faith in progress and an optimistic outlook on life;
2. Last decades of the century: Some intellectuals still think that it's not possible to understand the very values of the Victorian Age because of the many differences it had.

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