I’m not sure why, but I seem to be drawn to books and movies based on the Victorian age. Maybe because I don’t really enjoy suspenseful movies, mysteries or even westerns. I do like biographies, but people make such a mess of their lives that these films oftentime leave me feeling sad. Then again, it may be because Victorian Age movies are very plentiful. I have a feeling most of you can name a few of the movies based on the books by Jane Austen. And, like me, haven’t you found that the greater part of the story is taken up finding suitors and husbands for the family’s daughters? (While the girls are picking flowers?)
Some historians agree that the Victorian Age was the best of times in all human history. And perhaps that’s because It was a time of peace. So let’s take a look at it and I’ll let you be the judge. It was during the reign of Queen Victoria. She was monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain from 1837 until her death in 1901. People didn’t have television then, instead of TV’s it was pianos, and girls were expected to play them. To entertain each other, family members would dress up in outrageous costumes. If you lived in the city, you soon learned what “pea soupers” were. It was when the fog was so thick you could barely see through it. They say it was created by fog from the Thames River and smoke from coal fires.
Well let’s move on to more enjoyable features of the Victorian Age. For instance, food! They say turtle soup was a favorite and when sitting down to a meal they ate every part of an animal. Imagine a bowl of brains and hearts, not very appealing, wouldn’t you say?
The poor didn’t go to school. Those that did stood when the teacher entered the room and spoke only when spoken to. The rod was used frequently, and misbehaved children were sometimes put in stocks (until they were banned) or raised up near the ceiling in a “cage.” While reading a biography of C. S. Lewis he told about a mean, eccentric head master under whom he studied as a child. Believe it or not, orphan children were used as chimney sweeps. By the end of the Victorian age, all children under 12 had to go to school.
In Victorian days all girls were taught to sew, play piano, sing, paint, and be conversant in light literature. Rich families had governesses for their children and among their studies, as in schools of those days, were morals and religion. When girls came of age to begin courtship, strict rules of etiquette were in place. She could not attend a ball without an escort. A young couple had to be chaperoned and he could never call without permission. Upper classes held social events as are quite evident in the Victorian movies I spoke of.
A young woman never addressed a gentleman without an introduction. Although, she could flirt with her fan, and here’s how she’d do it.
Fan fast : “I am independent.”
Fan slow: “I am engaged.”
Fan with right hand in front of face: “Come on.”
Fan with left hand in front of face: ” Leave me.”
Fan open and shut: “Kiss me.”
Fan open wide: “Love.”
Fan half open: “Friendship.”
Fan shut: “Hate.”
Fan swinging: “Can you see me home?”.
Now that we’ve learned what all the fan motions mean, we may have to watch all
those favorite Victorian movies again, especially those that left us confused on who was who and which suitor would she marry?
There is much more to be told about the Victorian Age. But from what’s written here I wonder what you think of it? Could you be content in such an age? The apostle Paul, whose teachings have changed lives down through the centuries and who was both rich and poor, said he had learned to be content whatever the circumstances. When he was alive people like him faced persecution for their faith. I think it would have been easier to be content in the Victorian Age, then in biblical times, especially if you were a Christian. Now that you’ve read this rendition of “shirlandyou”. I’d love to her your comments on the subject.