Blacks in Victorian England

834 WordsJun 22, 20184 Pages
The Othered Victorians Introduction The Victorian period was a time of great hypocrisy. Despite the fact that the Protestant work ethic was gaining popular support amongst the Victorians and myths such as Samuel Smiles' "rags to riches" became part of mainstream Victorian culture, the Victorians were greatly divided into their respective social classes. Works like Thomas Carlyle's "The Irish Widow" and Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "The Cry of the Children" exemplified the blatant disregard of the upper classes to that of the lower class. If the Victorians were divided amongst themselves, imagine what it was like for people of different religions and races. The Blacks of this period was one such race that suffered tremendously…show more content…
The presence of black servants within the household also represented a sign of wealth (it meant that you had enough money to keep a servant; it also signified a sense of acculturation because of the exploration and discovery of new lands-home of the black slaves). Differences Many Victorians not only looked upon blacks as slaves or booty in war but they truly believed there were physical as well as mental differences between them. The Victorians believed that blacks were uncontrollable and salacious. The life of Sara Baartman (The Hottentot Venus) was used as evidence in support of these allegations ("The Life and Times" 1). Sara Baartman was a black woman from South Africa during the 1800's that had a steatopygia or enlarge buttocks ("Exhibiting" 1). She was displayed naked first in France and then throughout Europe because of this. Many other parts of her body were said to larger than the "normal" size. When she died at age 26, scientists dissected her body and found that, "Baartman's oversized primitive genitalia was physical proof of the African women's primitive sexual appetite'" ("Exhibiting"). This contributes to the belief that there were no virtuous black women, which meant they could not be gentlewomen like the ladies of the Victorian period. The science of phrenology, "[t]he
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