Morality in Victorian and Neo-Victorian Novels Essay

4239 Words 17 Pages
Morality in Victorian and Neo-Victorian Novels

An essay on Jane Eyre, The Mill on the Floss,

The French Lieutenant's Woman, Possession and The Dress Lodger

The Victorian era is one bound to morality. Morality is also defined through the traditional and religious standards that structure the way of life for many Victorians. Morality is defined as the proper principles and standards, in respect to right and wrong, which are to be practiced by all humanity. Ideally, these include obtaining decent careers, being sexually inactive prior marriage, and being faithful when married. Who defines proper behaviour for Victorians? Mainly, the idea of what is right or wrong is based upon the traditions practiced by one's forefathers, along with
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However, these issues are presented in their immoral state to display the moral right. This is furthered enhanced by the difference between the social classes and genders; what is genuinely wrong for one class or gender is not always wrong for the other.

The issue of class warfare is presented through many aspects, mainly occupation and sexuality. Surprisingly, both aspects intertwine and reflect Victorian ideas about such issues. Both authors chose to demonstrate the expected morality within labour (if one is so unfortunate to possess one) through the immoral characters of prostitutes and the men who come to them. Contradicting Victorian notions, Neo Victorian novels present prostitutes as not rootless social outcasts but as poor, independent, working women - they are unfortunate females just trying to make ends meet. They are primarily young, single women, few of whom support illegitimate children. Prostitution offers young women more independence, economically and socially, than would otherwise be available to them. The only condition that seems to dispose women to prostitution is economic relocation. However, no matter the independence or money, prostitutes are seen as necessary evils because they offer their services willingly to different men, many whom are from the higher class. The feelings commonly thought of as Victorian attitudes towards

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