Today is my turn for Tuesday ten. I am, however, sick with yet another cold and my computer died last week. The new one I have has a super-sensitive touch pad that makes writing difficult. Of course I’ll have to fix it, but it may take some time. Between those two things, I am not going to be as good a Tuesday-tenner as I would like. No references this time. This is more discussion time than information.
All right, on to ten things I love/hate about the era.
1.)Clothes–I love the clothes, from the beginning to the end of the era, most especially the ones for formal affairs. Silks and satins and velvets. . . .long dresses and lace. People dressed differently for different occasions, unlike today where unless someone specifically says “semi-formal attire” jeans and sandals are acceptable.
2.) Manners–People actually had them. Granted the U.S. has always been a little more, um, we’ll call it independent in the manner category. In other words, we tend to dis things that are viewed as “prissy”. I’m pretty certain that in the Old West, this occurred a lot more often than in the cities. Still, people said please and thank you, and held doors open and in most cases tried to be more polite.
3.) Furniture–I admit I wouldn’t have it in my house, but I still love the furniture of the time, with all the swirls and roses carved in it. In my house though, which is constantly in chaos, it would just get lost in the mess.
4.) Wallpaper–These days our walls are generally painted–it’s just easier. But in the Victorian period wallpaper was cheaper and everyone used it. Again, it was pretty intricate and in my chaotic house would just make the mess look messier. But if I could afford someone to clean my house–or could somehow learn to love cleaning it myself–I would have lots of Victorian wallpaper.
5.) Formality–In the Victorian era people said ma’am or sir, and used Mr and Mrs, even when referring to their own spouses. (I recently read something–don’t remember where though–in which a woman was berate for not calling her husband Mr.). The only time people these days say Mr. or Mrs is when referring to an old friends’ parents. Sometimes that’s not even true. In the town we lived in when my kids were born, everyone referred to their friends’ parents by their first name. Me, I like the formality. Yes, it does create distance, but it also shows immediately how close people are. I like it.
This may, by the way, be different in other sections of the U.S. (and other countries, of course). I believe people in the South are far more likely to use formalities, but I suspect even there it’s relaxing.
6.)Dancing–Yes, we do still dance, but not nearly as much as I believe they did back then. In the Victorian era dancing, specifically the waltz, was the best way for a man to “get close” to a woman. Thus men were far more inclined to want to dance. And dancing was “easier” in that there were set dances, The Cotillion, the Waltz, The Quadrille, etc. You learned the steps, and you could dance. Today, it’s mostly free-style, and those of us without rhythm (me!) do not dance. It’s far too embarrassing. I would have back then, though!
7.) Food–The Victorians liked to eat. A lot. And, as I have blogged on before (I think) as the era progressed and the eating became more ritual, the fashions changed to allow for extra weight. By the end of the era women who had a good 10-15 extra pounds on them were envied. I have an extra 10 pounds on me. No one envies me for it.
8.)Travel–yes is took much longer, was expensive and often filthy, and uncomfortable for people without a certain financial means. But for others if wasn’t–just look at the steamships being built at the time! All manner of luxury! I think slower travel allowed people to see more, and forced them to talk more to each other, to compel people to get to know people from different backgrounds. Today we take cruises for the purposes of vacation, which duplicates Victorian overseas travel to some extent. As for land travel, thought, well it’s all about the plane or the car, isn’t it? Few people take overnight trains. I think it’s a real shame.
Two things I hate:
9.) Corsets–While they sort of “equalized” women, allowing the larger ones to squish their waists so that they too, looked wasp-waisted, I think they did women a great deal of damage. From what I’ve read women started wearing them in the early teen years, and I suspect they created the same sort of malformation that binding feet did in Chinese women. This sort of malformation would have created, I believe, a great deal if difficulty during child-bearing years. I wonder how many women might not have suffered or died in childbirth if they hadn’t been forced by society to wear these things.
10.)Treatement of women–Of course I’ve discussed this a number of times, and how the laws were so unfair to women, even to the point that were a wife to divorce her husband (assuming she could actually get a divorce) she lost everything, including her children. Even if those children were from another marriage. The laws, though, were not special to the era, they were just more obvious because of the women who fought against them.
Well that’s it. What about you? What do you love or hate about the era?