The Victorian era, from 1837 to 1901 witnessed many highlights in world history. It saw the Industrial Revolution, with the revolutionary invention of the railway system and remarkable progress in the sciences. The 63-year period also marked the contributions of the likes of Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens in the fields of science and literature, respectively, alongside the economic boom of factory work and work hours.
The Victorian era society can be divided into three classes: the noble upper class, middle class, and the working class. The upper class was made of dukes, nobles, and aristocrats owning businesses and working in the courts.
The divide between the upper and lower classes was quite huge, as nobles were given a higher standard of living conditions and authority. Even with this divide, traditional familial structures were fading, paving the way for nobles and wealthy middle-class sectors to ascend into prominence.
- Upper Class – Aristocrats and families in the upper class were wealthy — so wealthy, in fact, that they did not need to work, thanks to money saved from previous generations. They managed the growing industries of shipping, mining, and railway. Their privileges expanded to education, with rich families getting the best tutors for their children.
- Middle Class – The middle class took a slow yet prosperous growth at the beginning of the Victorian era. Middle-class people, like aristocrats, managed businesses and some sectors. Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, life for members of the middle-class society drastically improved, opening doors to employment opportunities and affording them of a decent standard of living and education.
- Working Class – The last class in the social hierarchy was isolated from progress and political dimensions. Even with the Revolution improving living conditions, members of the working class were exploited and had to work extra hard in order to survive. Children in families even had to work far from home only to earn a measly amount just to keep afloat.
The Victorian era, meanwhile, saw the return of traditional British designs and styles in buildings, structures, and art pieces. This was called the Gothic revival, wherein designers were inspired by their yearning for a romantic and comforting past.
Architectural styles were also inspired by Tudor and Italianate, with preferences for detail, decoration, and large, elaborate structures. This resulted in the building of mansions and gable conservatories around the UK.
Impact on Modern Society
It was not only the birth of the Industrial Revolution that paved the way to today’s railway transportation systems and 9-to-5 working hours, but also the works of Dickens and the Bronte sisters that have become TV series and films.
Artists from this era also have many of their works preserved in museums, works that feature the culture and historical significance of the Victorian era. Artefacts have also been preserved in museums like the V&A in London and Tate Modern. Today, several structures and buildings from the era still stand and remain to be constant symbols of elegance, simplicity, and beauty.