Social Class And Social Differences In The Victorian Era

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From elegant dresses to the scraps on their back, the people of the Victorian era were separated by their social differences. Standing at the top of the social ladder stood the aristocracy; those within the aristocracy could be distinguished by their elaborate, expensive clothing, manner and company. Children of the upper class were well-educated and were brought up to impress and carry on success. Next came the most diverse and complex class, the middle class. Those within the middle class with the highest social appeal were the professionals, often called the upper middle class. This upper middle class included “Church of England clergymen, military and naval officers, men who were in the higher-status branches of law and medicine, those …show more content…
Due to their privileged position in society, the social life of the upper classes revolved around itself and a predictable set of activities—social gatherings. Despite the restrictions and strict rules of behavior and appearance during dances or balls, the aristocrats enjoyed the highest class of décor and entertainment. As the women enjoyed musical and social entertainment such as playing the piano dances, the men of the aristocracy would enjoy social clubs, gathering with other members of the upper class. The great difference between the leisure activities of the aristocracy and middle class was money. As the upper class enjoyed dances, so did the middle class. Instead of hosting the dance in an elaborate manor, the middle class enjoyed dancing at their common homes excluding the elaborate décor present in the events of the upper class. Playing the piano was another leisure activity enjoyed by not only the upper class but the ladies of the middle class as well. Combining resources and money allowed the middle class to purchase grounds and buildings (clubs) for leisure activities; golf, cricket, rugby, and tennis clubs. Therefore, not only did the aristocratic gentlemen enjoy clubs, but so did the middle class. These similarities in leisure activities suggest the hidden desire of the middle class to rise on the social ladder as they …show more content…
The development of middle class leisure was based on the influence of productivity and a new moral view of respect and self-justification. Therefore, leisure for the middle class had to be respectable, productive, and rational. As they were suspicious of moral temptations or lowly influences in the leisure world, they learned to assimilate leisure into their culture by creating brisk and purposeful recreations, such as athletics. A contemporary sociologist described middle-class leisure as "conspicuous consumption" — a form of keeping up with the "Victorian Joneses" that bolstered middle-class moral authority while acting as a transforming agent for the rest of society (Clark, “The Development of Leisure in Britain after 1850”). With these views and the added effort of money, the middle class used its business and organizational skills to establish clubs. During the Victorian era, clubs signified wealth and status, therefore, the middle classes’ desire to rise in society is reflected by their association with the formation of clubs, which as stated before, were enjoyed by the upper class. For the ladies, piano playing was past time that was looked up upon, an essential accomplishment not only enjoyed and forced upon in the upper class, but the middle class as well. This activity alone reveals how the middle class aspired their ladies to become

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